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ESSMA Pitch Management Workshop: How to maintain one of the most prestigious golf clubs in Europe

Interview with Eugenio Escribano, Head Greenkeeper at Real Club de Golf de Sevilla.  

ESSMA-members participating in the Pitch Management workshop visited the Real Club de Gold de Sevilla on 22 November.

On 21 & 22 November, 56 ESSMA-members from all over Europe gathered in Sevilla to learn more about the latest evolutions in pitch management. With presentations on biological pest disease control, sustainability in pitch management and working with data to improve the quality of your pitch, the agenda was filled with some inspiring best practices. Of course, it is always important to see the theories put into practice, which is why the 2-day workshop also included 3-site visits. Participants of the ESSMA Pitch Management Workshop got to visit the Ciudad Deportiva José Ramón Cisneros Palacios (Sevilla FC Training Center), Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán (Sevilla FC Stadium) and the Real Club de Golf de Sevilla. 

The Sevilla golf course is celebrating its 30th birthday this year. Having hosted the 2004 WGC-World Cup of Golf and Spanish Opens in 2008, 2010 and 2012, it is known as one of the best maintained golf courses in Spain. 

ESSMA interviewed the man who has been responsible for maintaining 61 hectares of land that hold this prestigious Golf Club, Eugenio Escribano to find out more about his approach to pitch maintenance. 

ESSMA: Thank you for hosting us at the wonderful Real Club de Golf de Sevilla. One of the most important things in maintaining this huge surface area must be to have a good organisation and a string team behind it all. How many people are in your grounds management team and what are their responsibilities? 

Eugenio: “We have 25 people in our team including the groundkeeper who are all on internal payroll. This team is made up of 1 greenkeeper, 2 assistants, 2 mechanics, 2 irrigation technicians, 2 spray technicians and 16 gardeners. Besides this internal team we also consult external specialists from the company Acttua. This company oversees the greenkeeper's job with 2 visits per month. They are turf grass management programme-cerificated and work with golf clubs across Spain. For all of this, we have an annual budget of around 1.2 million.” 

ESSMA: What materials do you use for day-to-day pitch maintenance? 

Eugenio: “Basically we use a Pogo device to measure salinity and humidity, and a TDR 3000 device for controlling the humidity locally. These materials are very easy to use, lightweight and very intuitive. We do not use any grow lighting and because of the European guidelines and directives on herbicides and pesticides, we can not use a lot of herbicides and pesticides.” 

ESSMA: Pitch management is evolving quickly and the use of data seems to become increasingly important in the industry.  How does working with data influence your groundskeeping team? 

Eugenio: “We measure humidity and salinity with the Pogo device on a daily basis as well as the clippings volume. All three of these factors are important for us. The Pogo device’s data provides us very useful information of how much water we should apply to keep the optimal percentage of humidity in the root zone of our turf. The clippings volume data shows us how our grass is growing, if we should apply growth regulators or fertilizers and if it directly affects the green’s speed, which is of course important for our golfers.”

ESSMA: What is the influence of climate change on groundskeeping for you?

Eugenio: “We have continuously gathered data over the last 12 years, and you can clearly see how the weather has been changing over the past few years… Winters are getting warmer, there is less rainfall, there are higher temperatures overall… And that of course effects our approach. It means that we have to use more water, that we (almost inevitably) get more diseases on our turf and that more pests develop in the soil. we try to prepare as best as we can using weather predicting websites but we still see these effects.”

ESSMA: ESSMA visited your golf course with a group of professional pitch managers from the stadium industry. What do you think grounds managers from football clubs could learn from greenkeepers at golf course and vice versa?

Eugenio: “Well, I don’t think there is a lot of difference between golf grass and football grass. Besides some obvious differences, the approach is largely the same in my opinion. The use of mowers, fertilizers, herbicides…. Everything is very similar, we all want to deliver the best quality pitch.”

Want to discover more about our pitch management workshop in Sevilla? Go to our knowledge platform to discover all the presentations!