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Andermatt Swiss Alps

From cross-country meadow to fairway

A golf course at 1,440 metres a.s.l. needs a little longer than a course in the lowlands before it is playable again in the spring. “At Easter the last cross-country skiers made their rounds on the golf course site. In certain spots, snow was even on the course until the end of April,” tells Head Greenkeeper Daniel Speer. “Nevertheless, my work started already in early April. There were many administrative tasks to take care of, and our machines had to be prepared again for use. We also cleared snow off some of the greens with a snowblower.”

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Daniel Speer has been on the golf course at Andermatt since 2013 and knows the tricky peculiarities of the place. The ice that forms in winter causes damage, and some of the spots don’t grow back for a long time. “In places where a lot of ice has accumulated, we spot check for damage. We check whether the vegetation nodes of the grass are still healthy. Because if the ice remains on the greens too long, the grass doesn’t get any oxygen and it suffocates. New grass must then be sown in such spots.”

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All the fairways are groomed after the long winter so that the grass can properly breathe again. This stands the grass up again and gives good air exposure. “Grooming also removes the weeds. With some winter diseases a paper-like layer, almost like felt, forms on the grass. Grooming opens this up and lets the air circulate again.” But all in all, Daniel Speer is very pleased with the condition of the course. “Luckily, we had almost no Typhula mould, and the fungus was only topical, so it will grow out. These two diseases are common on golf courses.”

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The spring work also includes checking the drainage. “Especially where the trails cross peat or boggy soils, the soil must be drained. The machine we use to lay drainage pipes in the ground makes a trench about 60 cm wide. The pipes are covered with coarse gravel.” Because the pipes are relatively small, they must be checked regularly. Daniel Speer and his team know exactly where such drainage systems must be placed.

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If you go by the golf course during these days, you can clearly see the work of the greenkeepers. One of the highlights is the first cut. “The cutting height is 6 mm. Only then do you really see how the greens survived the harsh winter. When the lush green colour appears, the greenkeeper is delighted – and later the golfers too.” And that means: Get your golf clubs ready. The golf course at Andermatt will open May 29th, and this year it will thrill golfers once again, with its good condition and its stunning views of the Urseren Valley.

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But there is still plenty of work to do for the six-member greenkeeping team before the first tee off.

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