Golf Course Superintendent - West Cliffs Golf Links
As the future greenkeeper of West Links, what was your role in the building of the course?
During the building of the golf course, I was always following the construction works. I attended all meetings related to the project, bringing my 15 years of local experience as the Praia Del Rey Golf and Beach Resort's Golf Course Superintendent. I was a part of the typical day-to-day changes and the key decisions that were taking place.
How have you set the course up to play and what will the players experience be like when they come to West Cliffs Golf Links?
West Cliffs is a unique golf experience. It has been a privilege to on a great master piece, designed by Cynthia Dye and her team. Golfscape/Progolf have done a great job on the construction work, and the natural beauty of the site is breathtaking.
The course set-up preserves the challenge set out by the architect, as well providing an enjoyable experience in a way that players can experience the best aspects of this jewel.
What are the main points that you see were unique about the way in which West Cliffs Golf Links was designed, constructed?
It was the respect for the natural site and the concern given at an early stage to sustainable maintenance. I feel both these things add a great deal to a unique golf experience.
What were your own main considerations around sustainability and responsible golf course management during construction and how will you be applying them to the future day-to-day management?
I was concerned with making as minimal an intervention as possible into the existing site. During the process we tried to restore and preserve the natural place by eliminating all the invasive species and making the most of the existing natural assets. Essentially, we wanted to have the least impact possible on nature.
We made sure to use the best adapted grass species to local weather conditions, diseases and pests. We also implemented a significant investment of time and money on the water storage capacity and the recuperation off all sources of water available to us, including surface run-off water, drainage water and the treated effluent water when it is possible. An efficient choice of pump station and irrigation system was taken in conjunction with different types of software and hardware that included a weather station and complete online water management system.
The purchase, whenever possible of electric and hybrid equipment was made. Then, I have created a Best Managing Practices (BMP) approach to the the day-to-day maintenance of the golf course, this requires annual planning, with a monitoring plan and water and soil/tissue analysis. That plan informs our balanced fertilization program, which is based on slow released products and spoon feeding, to avoid nutrient loss, and excess grow which in turn has an impact on lowering our overall fuel consumption. The use of a specialised sprayer machine gives us the most accurate and efficient results.
Finally, the information and education of our staff is essential in order to have a complete sustainable approach and understanding. Bernardo Almeida is the new Head Greenkeeper at West Cliffs and he is managing a good and motivated team.
Alongside the work on the playing surfaces themselves, a lot of work is also put into the preservation of the wider nature and to increasing the site's biodiversity levels. We remain entirely aligned with the OnCourse® sustainability practices, which helps us to remain focused and become better and better.