A picturesque, brand new golf course and stunning clubhouse.

Sep 4, 2014

A picturesque, brand new golf course and stunning clubhouse? What more could a golfer want?

Alan Greatorex from Densal is the course superintendent at the new Gardiners Run Golf Course (previously Chirnside Park Country Club).

Alan Greatorex

Alan first started in the industry by doing an apprenticeship in turf management before working at Kingston Heath Golf Club in Melbourne as a greenkeeper.

He then moved to Western Australia as a construction superintendent at Dunsborough Lakes Golf Resort. From there he moved back to Melbourne and took a position at Chirnside Country Club as their grounds manager during the construction process of Gardiners Run.

When the club decided at a late stage to outsource the maintenance contract to Densal, who were the construction company of the golf course, Alan transitioned into working for them as the course superintendent.


Alan first got the job at Chirnside four years ago, particularly so he could be involved with the construction side of things.

“Basically this construction has been on the drawing board with the club for ten years, they have sat back and watched every other course in the country being built and heard every bad story about everything that could possibly go wrong, so they wanted to try and guarantee that that wasn’t going to happen to them.”

The new golf course site for Gardiners Run was originally the clay mine site for CSR’s roofing tile operations.

Due to this, there was a delay of two months on finishing the back nine because of mining operations.

“So that delay pushed us into winter for construction, which made it difficult for us to meet that September deadline from a growing season perspective.

“The back nine is a little bit immature compared to the front nine, but the club decided to come out here because the other club had to be shut down from a sub-divisional point of view.

“They couldn’t maintain a golf course out here not being utilised and still maintain an existing nine holes.”

When Alan first started working at Chirnside, they were still running 18 holes at the old site as well as the two bowling greens, the tennis courts and grounds.

Then once the construction started on the new site, he was overseeing the construction side of things for the club.

The next step was that nine holes on the original site were closed down to be sub-divided.

“So, golfers were playing nine holes twice for their 18 holes on the original site.

“The construction progressed at the new site, with the original plan to open in September 2013, but that was delayed due to the mining operation so it ended up opening on the 1st of May 2014.”

Alan says that the members are very happy from a golfing point of view.

In fairness, there were some issues up at the original site, as housing surrounded it, so expansion was not possible.

Now the members have a brand new golf course, which is fully drained, fully irrigated and has a brand new clubhouse.

Alan is proud to say that the club has been fully open with all their members in explaining the circumstances of the golf course.

“We are using the rule of preferred lies throughout the entire course to keep it simple, so a card length of where the ball lands, so that helps to speed up play and makes scoring a little bit easier initially as well.

“The members have been very accepting and understanding of all that.”
In terms of maintenance of the new course, Alan says that he and the seven guys on staff find there are many challenges, particularly as they are still in the ‘grow in’ phase.

This is especially prevalent given the disparity between the back and front nine holes having been completed at different times.

“That is difficult to manage because all the greens are in varying stages at the moment.

“They are still a little bit immature and inconsistent and trying to maintain a golf course for play while still trying to establish it is a challenge.

“Over winter it has been especially difficult, so the greens have not been cut as low as what you would normally do purely to manage the play through this first winter.

“The members are accepting things are a little bit slower than normal being cut at 4mm, but come spring/ summer things will improve over time.”

The course has Santa Ana couch on the tees, fairways and surrounds, Pen G2 bentgrass in the greens and seeded couch in the rough.

There is a fully irrigated auto system, the Toro Links, with satellite controllers out in the field as well as recycled class B water from the Lilydale Treatment Plant.

“We have had some issues with high Ph levels in the water, so we have invested in a sulphur burner to be installed, similar to what Kingston Heath have already installed.

“It is ground-breaking technology. This compared to acid injection, which with OHS is an issue, straight away, acid generally eats away all your equipment, so in 15 months you would have paid for that system with the amount of acid you would buy anyway.
“Apart from one other system in Queensland, which is an older system, I believe ours and Kingston Heath’s are the only ones in the country. It is American based and there are only a handful around the world.”

  Phil Ryan and Paul Reeves at
  Pacific Coast Design  
  designed the course.

  The club gave them a specific
  brief are very satisfied with
  what has been delivered.

  “The club wanted a member
  friendly golf course with
  bunkers that were challenging
  but not too punishing, ie
  they’re not deep craters,
  they’re fairly shallow,"

“The layout of the holes is pushing your ball back into play.

“It is suitable for every level, there are three tees on every hole.

“In terms of designing a course to push your ball back into play, you have to be careful when designing drainage and irrigation that the water isn’t all being pushed into the middle.

“There have also been about 18,000 trees planted throughout the old quarry site.”

Alan says it is very rewarding to get a brand new golf course up and running and it is safe to say that it has the potential to look amazing!

Article courtesy of Turfmate