Royal Troon Golf Club

Fairways open for play at Royal Troon

Royal Troon Golf Club

In 2016 Royal Troon Golf Club hosted the 145th playing of the Open Championship, the ninth occasion this revered Ayrshire links has welcomed the greatest golf tournament of them all.

Millions around the globe witnessed one of the finest spectacles of major golf history unfold on the afternoon on Sunday July  the 17th, as Henrik Stenson held off Phil Mickelson to become the first Scandinavian major winner with a record low score of 264; an astonishing 20-under par!


A few months previous, such a successful week was difficult to imagine for Course Manager Billy McLachlan, as his beloved golf course was emerging from an horrifically wet winter, even by the fairly substantial standards set by the west coast of Scotland!

“It was wet - VERY wet,” says Billy. “As with most links courses we have fantastic natural drainage, but the water table was so high, that large areas, mainly lower lying fairways, lay under water for long periods. There was simply no-where for the water to go, and as a result we lost turf cover in places.”

With the Open just four months away, there was obvious concern at the predicament and a solution was needed. “The question was whether to re-turf or seed these areas,” continues Billy. “Turfing would have guaranteed a playing surface, but myself and Richard Windows, our STRI agronomist, were concerned the “turfing lines” would be very visible to players and fans alike. I was, however, sceptical that the areas could be grown in from seed at that time of the year.”

Contact was made with Dave Greenshields to see if a seed solution was possible. Dave takes up the story, “Ryegrass was the only option given the time of year and speed of establishment needed, but is not viewed by many as a “traditional” grass for links golf. Fortunately, a new cultivar, Barolympic, ticks every box that was required by Troon. Its fineness of leaf, tolerance to close mowing and pale colour are simply unparalleled amongst other ryegrasses.”

Billy sowed the grass seed (supplied by Greentech (Sportsturf) Ltd.) in March and was astounded by the results. “It did more than we could have wished for, and transformed the areas from brown to green very quickly. What amazed me most was how well it blended with the surrounding sward, which is made up of fescue and bent. You genuinely couldn’t see where the work had taken place. It’s safe to say the seed saved us a lot of hassle and stress leading up to the Open.”

Billy is not the only one who has been impressed. “I’ve shown the areas to other course managers, pointed to the grass and asked them what they think. They haven’t really known how to respond. When I have then told them it’s ryegrass, they haven’t believed me. Even when they are down on their hands and knees, they can’t tell!”

Dave concludes, “A solution is out there for most problems – our breeders do an amazing job, and our sales team understand our portfolio of grasses and what they can do. It’s obviously extra special when you get to see your grass play its part in a grand sporting occasion like the Open... or in the case here – NOT see it. I knew where to look and even on the overhead TV shots of the affected holes, I couldn’t make out the Barolympic. It really is a special grass!” 

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