In Golf & Turf

Nick Van Leeuwen, Head Greenkeeper at Motueka Golf Club gives us a small insight on the upkeep and planning that goes on.

How long have you been in the industry for and at Motueka Golf Club?
I have been green keeping for 18 years – 7 at Green Acres under Dennis Beggs and 11 years at Royal Motueka, where I have been head green keeper for most of this time.

Can you give our readers a bit of history about the Motueka Golf Club?
Motueka golf club has just had its 100 year anniversary. It’s an 18 hole tree lined beauty with 450 members.
We won NZ club of the year in 2018 which was huge for our little club.

Motueka Golf Club is renowned to be in superb condition year round, can you let us in on a couple of your own special things that you do around the course?
We have worked really hard to get the wildlife back at the club with good trapping and eradication controls and creating native environments for these birds to live in. The bird call on calm evenings are amazing.

Motueka hosted the 2022 Freyberg Masters can you outline any changes in your maintenance schedule for the tournament?
The Freyberg was a great event for the club which they all embraced with not a blade of grass out of place.
A lot of work was done prior – cleaning around trees, pruning trees and extra turf maintenance. The weeks of the tournament were a grass cutting fest!

What requirements did New Zealand Golf have for the course preparation – stimp meter readings, length of course hole placements etc?
There weren’t too many requirements from NZ golf.
We as a club wanted to have a fair and fun playing experience for the guys for the whole week so we left Phil to his tee and green placements and we just tried to have the greens at a nice true 10/11 feet – which i think we achieved.

The good bits of the job?
The good things about this job are the early starts and the product you see at the end of a good week. The biggest thing for me would be some of things that don’t happen overnight, like our sanding program that we have now been on for four years. The greens prior to this were soft, untrue and disease ridden. but we are now enjoying the rewards – firm, smooth and lots less disease.

And the bad?
The bad things in this game are the uncontrollable – ie the weather – this can get to you in so many ways .

Motueka Golf Club has always been a loyal John Deere supporter, what machinery are you running in the shed?
We have a very green shed here – greens mowers, fairway mowers, surrounds mowers and tractors.
John Deere provide good gear and D&E an even better service.

What changes have you seen at Motueka since you started?
The changes at the club since I have started have been huge – all the trees have been lifted off the ground for speeding up play, better air flow and a cleaner look.
Thousands have been spent on drainage as we are low lying so winter can be a challenge.

What do you do in your spare time?
Spare time is spent with my little humans. Me and the boy love being out on the water fishing and if we are not there we are out testing my work out on the course. We both love golf!

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