‘The heroes before the heroes’ at KAEC

‘The heroes before the heroes’ at KAEC
‘The heroes before the heroes’ at KAEC

We show you our most important and recent visitors news details ‘The heroes before the heroes’ at KAEC in the following article

Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - JEDDAH — The Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers golf tournament tees off Thursday, with 132 superstar golfers setting out in pursuit of championship glory and a share of the event’s $3.5m prize-purse.

But while their work is only now getting under way, for those tasked with keeping the award-winning course a lush green desert paradise — the hard work just continues.

The agronomy team at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) have been working tirelessly the last fortnight ensuring no stone has been left unturned in making sure the 40-hectare Red Sea course is at its pristine best — and greenest of green — for Thursday’s opening rounds.

In its two weeks of preparation, the course has received a mammoth 4,000-man hours in greenkeeping — grass cutting, gardening and general maintenance — from a staff of nearly 50 people, from eight different countries.

Between them, they’ve used 20 lawnmowers — alternate types for different areas of the course — two rollers, two tractors, and two blowers. The work has involved trimming and then maintaining the golf course’s 18 immaculate fairways to an ultra-precise eight millimetres –— a job that’s seen the team’s seven fairway lawnmowers drive more than 150 miles going over the grass every day of the week; the equivalent of taking a lawnmower from Jeddah to King Abdullah Economic City...and then almost all the way back again!

For the greens — where the players will be putting to complete each hole — the cut is even finer. At a mere 2.4mm long, the grass on the green is shorter than the hair left from a No. 2 shave. To make sure it is perfect everywhere, greenkeeping staff have even used scissors to cut the grass around the course’s 18-holes, ensuring each and every surface offers no unexpected bumps or turns to perfection-seeking players.

And in seeking that perfection, the grounds team will be on-hand to repair any divots – damage to the fairway turf caused by players striking the ball — made during play. To make sure they won’t be caught short, they are armed with no less than a tonne of green-sand growth mix.

Royal Greens’ most famous hole is the stunning 16th: the picture-perfect par three where the Caribbean-blue waters of the Red Sea run parallel to the hole.

But if you think that’s all the water involved on the course, think again. When designers European Golf Design (EGD) were tasked with sculpting the golfing paradise that is Royal Greens, it meant transforming desert sand into, well, grass. The course is now lush with Pure Dynasty Paspalum grass — and it takes a lot of H2O to keep it that way.

In fact, the course is equipped with 2,195 sprinklers, which together soak the course with an extraordinary 4,000m3 of water each day — enough to fill nearly two Olympic-size swimming pools, every day!

The excess of this water is recycled into the course’s three lakes, which come into play on six different holes, prompting players to take caution to avoid the penalty stroke that comes with losing your ball to the water.

Another “try to avoid” for every golfer is any of the course’s bunkers. On Royal Greens, that is really put to the test, as there are 70 of them in total, all lovingly cared for by the greens team. Filled with sand, bunkers can prove difficult to escape – and as a result, damaging to a player’s score. To have them primed and ready, the team has had 12 associates charged with raking the course’s bunkers over the last week.

There has been no question that the course preparation at Royal Greens has been a team effort. And from today, that team grows again — and at nearly ten-fold.

As well as the world-famous golfers, their caddies, match officials, thousands of fans and hundreds of international media, the greenskeepers will welcome 467 marshals to the course, to ensure the smooth running of the golf over the next four days. They’ll be tasked with everything from guiding spectators, to making sure they stay still and quiet during shots.

Ben Stimson is Director of Golf at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club. He said: “It has been a monumental effort, as always, by our incredible agronomy team here at Royal Greens. They have worked tirelessly in the pursuit of perfection and have the course in pristine condition, ready to welcome the best golfers on the planet. They are without doubt the heroes before the heroes.” — SG

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