The masters of keeping it green

01:07, Feb 28 2013
Keeping it green
At 6.45am golf course superintendent Brendan Allen meets with 23 staff in the maintenance buildings smoko room to discuss the maintenance schedule for the day. For the duration of the NZPGA staff briefings begin at 4.30am.
Keeping it green
Joel Pollock rolls the practice green in front of the club house – a daily task with the objective of leaving it as smooth as a billiard table.
Keeping it green
Mike McKenna cuts the first fairway. The stripes are known as ‘‘tournament stripes’’ and are prepared about two weeks before the tournament to give the course an extra sparkle in the sunlight for television viewers and spectators.
Keeping it green
Craig McFarlane sits astride a surrounds mower, for mowing green surrounds and approaches. Most large golf courses such as The Hills hold between $1.5m and $2m worth of machinery.

New Zealand's biggest golfing tournament begins at The Hills today but the work of the course's greenkeepers began many months before.

In fact, golf course superintendent Brendan Allen says the demands of owner Michael Hill and the members of this high-class club are such that it is kept close to NZPGA - perfection every day.

That means 20 staff mowing and rolling greens raking bunkers, hand watering greens, tees and fairways, cutting tees, green surrounds and fairways and mowing the bunker faces every day.

It all intensifies for a tournament: Staff numbers have increased to 23 and, for the duration of the NZPGA, work will begin at 4.30am and finish at 8am, then start again at 3pm until 9 or 10pm.

"Ideally when you come to the tournament you don't have to do a lot more. We're as close as we can be to perfection," Allen says.

The excitement of a major tournament is loved by some while others, focused on the perfection of the course, are not keen on seeing it trashed.

Players too expect perfection on the course - after all their livelihood is at stake, Allen says.

"This is the biggest event in New Zealand golf at the moment. It's pretty exciting to be involved in."

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