Back to list

Victoria, Sandringham host first VGCSA meeting for 2020

Thursday 05, Mar 2020

The Victorian Golf Course Superintendents Association (VGCSA) kicked off its 2020 meeting schedule with a visit to Victoria Golf Club and Sandringham Golf Links on Tuesday. In yet another strong turnout, 130 members and industry representatives attended the day which was co-sponsored Glenmac Sales & Service (John Deere) and Nuturf.

The day began at Victoria with a presentation from Dr Mark Walker (Nuturf), before host superintendent Steven Newell and assistant superintendent Jacob Burridge led a course walk. It has been 12 months since Victoria reopened the course after undergoing a major revamp between July 2018 and February 2019. Under the auspices of Ogilvy Clayton Cocking Mead (now Ogilvy Cocking Mead), the project saw all greens reinstated to their former glory and sown with Pure Distinction creeping bentgrass. In addition, six hectares of cool-season turf surrounding greens and tees was sod cut out and replaced with Santa Ana.

With the greens, 12 were reinstated to their original contours, while three – 6, 11 and 13 – maintained their contours but had the severity of slope adjusted. The biggest changes were to holes 5, 12 and 17 where greens and bunker complexes (both greenside and fairway) were significantly altered. The tour took in holes 6-9 and 16-18 with Newell discussing the construction process, some of the challenges they faced and the performance of the greens and their ongoing management. The course is set to host the Men’s Australian Open in 2022 and will also be the stage for the 2020 Toro ASTMA Golf Championship to be played prior to the annual conference in June.

Following Victoria, attendees then headed across Reserve Rd to the Royal Melbourne Golf Club (RMGC) maintenance facility for morning tea and a quick tour before heading to Sandringham Golf Links to inspect the ongoing course redevelopment works. RMGC has held the lease on the Sandringham site for the past 10 years and maintains the public access facility along with the famed East and West courses. The course redevelopment is part of a major overhaul of the site which will eventually see it become the new home for Golf Australia, Golf Victoria and the PGA of Australia.

The Sandringham Golf Links Redevelopment Project has been a number of years in the making after those three entities received funding from the Victorian Government to develop a high-performance training and administration facility back in 2014. After an involved two-year scoping process, Sandringham Golf Links was identified as the preferred location with works approval finally granted last year. The project incorporates;

  • Full redevelopment of the 18-hole golf course staged across two nines (nine holes to remain open at all times). Ogilvy Cocking Mead (OCM) appointed as course architects with Waypoint as project consultants and managers.
  • Increasing existing water storage capacity from 15ML megalitres to 30ML, reducing the course’s reliance on potable water.
  • Upgrading the irrigation system.
  • An extensive revegetation programme to increase the number of indigenous trees, vegetation and overall biodiversity value of the site.
  • Construction of a new two-storey ‘clubhouse’ facility incorporating office administration space for Golf Victoria/Golf Australia and Sandringham Golf Links staff, meeting rooms, education spaces and new public amenities/changerooms. Public café. Indoor high-performance golf training facilities.
  • Construction of a 350m-long, covered, 30-bay public access driving range, public short game practice area comprising a chipper and 3000 square metre putter. continued...

Stage one course works began last May with RMGC staff playing a key role. Led by construction superintendent Nic Staff  and foreman Darcy Jones, the RMGC team undertook preparatory works including setting up a nine-hole temporary course and all tree removal. During construction, they assisted OCM in preparing greens, tees and surrounds for grassing and the subsequent grassing and grow-in. Stage one works included the expansion of the course’s water storage to 30ML, a new irrigation system (installed by Superior Green) as well as utilising land that had previously been unused to locate some of the new holes.

In order to maintain consistency, and in a unique move which will be a boon for Sandringham’s regular golf patrons, the decision was made to use Royal Melbourne’s famed Suttons Mix bentgrass on the new greens, as well as a fine fescue mix for the surrounds. Time will tell whether the varieties will stand up to the increased traffic, but to date the surfaces are performing well since opening in January. Works have now begun on the second stage with an expected completion this October.

The Sandringham site tour ended with a presentation from sponsor Glenmac before lunch in the RMGC clubhouse. The ASTMA congratulates the VGCSA on another great meeting and strong turnout from its members. The next VGCSA meeting will be the 93rd Annual General Meeting to be held at Woodlands Golf Club, the home of incumbent VGCSA president Barry Proctor, on 1 May.