Royal Guernsey Golf Club invests in SALSCO

Above: Course Manager Oliver Pennington (right) with Deputy Course Manager Martyn Savident.

Early bird golfers make sense of a Salsco

Time is everything for busy golf courses like Guernsey’s side-by-side pairing of the Royal Guernsey and L’Ancresse where a small groundkeeping team takes on some big challenges. The purchase of a Salsco roller from Lister Wilder was, therefore, a key decision given that it immediately cut the hours needed for one important task in half.

Such is the popularity of the holiday island course that the courses place no restrictions on tee times, so that in summer golfers can turn up as early as 5am. That in turn puts the joint greenkeeping team under pressure to stay ahead of play with its cutting and rolling programme.

New to the club early in 2021, Course Manager Oliver Pennington says the course had previously used only a vibration roller. “I had heard a lot of good things about Salsco rollers from courses along the South Coast,” he says. “I also knew I didn’t want to have two staff out there first thing in the morning rolling when one could do the job with a Salsco while the other tackled other jobs.

Oliver quickly spoke to Lister Wilder’s Sales Director Phill Hughes and on his advice invested in a Salsco HP 11-III which includes three driven oscilating rolls that travel over the ground, following the undulations designed into the turf and smoothing the surface without changing it. It operates at a ground speed of up to 11mph over a 1,854mm rolling width while applying a weight of 535.3 kg.

“It does a very good job,” says Oliver. “The weight is ideal – we generally roll twice a week but more often than that if we have a tournament coming in order to maintain a nice smoothness in the greens. I have been very impressed with it and will certainly look to replace it when the time comes.

“We don’t have the luxury of being able to hand-cut because we don’t have the staff, so the extra man hours we get from a greens roller really does help our cause. Given our early starts, we have invested in the lighting kit, and we also have the brushes that stop debris sitting on the roller. It is very effective and means it can go out after top dressing without leaving piles of sand everywhere.”

Oliver joined the Royal Guernsey and L’Ancresse from Les Ormes in neighbouring Jersey early in 2021. The Royal Guernsey dates from 1890, though the current course was laid put by Philip Mackenzie Ross (of Turnberry fame) in 1949 when one of the challenges was to repair war damage. It operates side-by-side with the L’Ancresse Golf Course on an island that is in fact closer to France than it is to the ferry terminal that serves it in Poole.The two clubs also share L’Ancresse Common at the northern end of the island with a racecourse which runs an annual flat meeting that involves a year of planning and four weeks of building. Together, the three sporting users work in harmony with the community and the grazing cattle reintroduced in 2017 to help control invasive species.

With rolling beaches on two sides, the 6,200-yard par-70 Royal Guernsey takes full advantage of the natural undulating beauty of the environment. Facilities supporting the impressive 18-hole course include a driving range, two putting / chipping greens, a pitching green, a pro shop, and a bar / restaurant.
The 6,215 yard par-70 L’Ancresse Golf Club began life in 1895 as an Artisan Club based on top of The Doyle near what is now the 14th green. It has played on the L’Ancresse Links almost continuously since then, with just a short interruption due to the occupation of the islands during the last war.

The spacious infrastructure allows the two courses to absorb many golfers at any one time but that in turn places extra demands on the team of five greenkeepers and two apprentices. The Salsco roller is a tool they are very happy to have in their shed in staying on top of the challenges. “It really does come into its own for tournaments,” says Oliver. “The golfers now comment on how true the greens are running.”