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Jeff Segol

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Sand Greens in Australia
« on: February 20, 2024, 08:01:48 PM »
I just finished working through The Golf Courses of Vern Morcom, and one of the things that struck me is the number of courses there that were still using sand greens (or scrapes, as they're known there) into the 70s and 80s, and perhaps even today. I was just wondering from our Aussie friends why that was? My theories:


Australia does not appear to have the equivalent of the USGA Green Section, or any help from the equivalent of the USDA in doing turfgrass research. It's basically whatever the Russell/Morcom/Crockford lineage could figure out that worked.


In reading the histories of the course, there doesn't seem to me to be much effort to look for well sources of water. Never having been to Australia, are there no aquifers like we have in the U.S.?


Seems like courses in Australia were just not as well capitalized as the ones here, so the founders had to make do with what they could afford.


Again, I'm pleading ignorance and curiosity here, knowing very little about the golf experience there before doing this reading. Please enlighten me if it's not too much trouble. Just starting on Crockford. Great book with good explanations and excellent photos and drawings.

Mike_Clayton

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Re: Sand Greens in Australia
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2024, 01:54:28 AM »
Jeff,


I can only speak for Victoria but there are still quite a few sand scrape courses left here.
They are all in small country towns at clubs with fewer than 200 members. All the labour is voluntary and they exist on "the smell of an oily rag" as they say down here. Water is a big issue and keeping greens alive takes both water and labour - both of which are problematic in many places.
It's very rudimentary golf run mainly by local farmers but last year Mike DeVries and I were driving from Port Fairy to Horsham (probably the best inland course in Victoria) and we drove past one - the name of which escapes me.
We pulled over, jumped the fence and walked a few holes but it was closed because it was summer.  Apparently it's only open in winter - but the trees and wispy native roughs were beautiful.


The greens are tiny and you can't land a ball on them and have it stop - but it's easy putting.. 24 putts is an average day.

Thomas Dai

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Re: Sand Greens in Australia
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2024, 05:01:55 AM »

Lots of variables in putting surfaces.
Where thereís a will to play golf thereís a way.
Sand, baked mud, carpet, lino, concrete, glass etc. If itís smooth(ish) and doesnít break-up or have a weather issue itís likely puttable.
Hit ball have fun.
Atb

Matthew Delahunty

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Re: Sand Greens in Australia
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2024, 07:14:49 AM »
Jeff, most of the courses with sand scrapes were built between 1910 and 1940.  Australia's population at that time was maybe 5 million, most of which was concentrated in the 7 capital cities.  Most country towns were quite small and didn't have water infrastructure that may have existed in American regional centres due to much lower populations.  Most of the sandscrape courses which exist today were early courses which never transitioned most likely due to budgetary constraints of getting water.  Most are in small towns where the population is 2000 people or less..  The courses in larger towns switched to grass greens or new courses were built with grass greens from the 1940s.   

James Bennett

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Re: Sand Greens in Australia
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2024, 02:10:12 AM »
Peterborough is a Vern Morcom design in South Australia's mid-north.
It used to have railway work and a meat works but I expect both have disappeared.
There were banks, and schools (which required staff) but they have generally reduced significantly as population fell.
Rainfall might 10 to 15 inches a year, principally in winter.
There are no rivers, no significant water basins and any water would probably cost $3 a kilolitre (a cubic metre).

!
Irrigation is uneconomic for both water and piping/electricity.


Golf is a winter game, and the scrapes might be sand or slag (from mineral processing plants).


James B


ps  Remember that Australia has a population of less than 10% of the USA despite having a similar land mass.  It is also a very dry continent (Antarctica is drier :) ), so population and water is lacking in may places.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2024, 11:46:33 PM by James Bennett »
Bob; its impossible to explain some of the clutter that gets recalled from the attic between my ears. .  (SL Solow)

MKrohn

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Re: Sand Greens in Australia
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2024, 09:13:48 PM »
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=682548636993134&set=pb.100057140123725.-2207520000&type=3


One of my mates is a member at a "sand scrape" course in the Snowy Mountains region of NSW. It's not the traditional type of scrape which I have seen where it was sand mixed with oil. These things are rock hard, hopefully the link above works.


The town has about 1800 people, probably only 50 are golf playing members, they have a legacy clubhouse which requires maintenance and all work is done by the membership. Water is no issue, just cash.

Scott Warren

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Re: Sand Greens in Australia
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2024, 03:51:34 AM »
I visited a scrapes course in Broken Hill, far western NSW today while Iím visiting for work.


13hr drive west of Sydney (I flew - 2.5hr) and a 6hr drive south west to Adelaide.


Lots of sand scrape courses have decent grass on fairways and tees but the greens are sand. This place is red dirt outback all over, with the exception of some synthetic grass tees.


These pics and videos will be up for the next 24hr before they expire:
https://www.instagram.com/stories/australiangolfpassport/3311052556313994149?utm_source=ig_story_item_share&igsh=MTJnbmx0MW1iZDl2OA==


Pics that will stay up:
https://www.instagram.com/p/C3zPC_zPHfM/?igsh=ZHZuYThrdG8wem5t

Mike_Clayton

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Re: Sand Greens in Australia
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2024, 04:30:49 PM »
Scott,


How many members - and how much is the green fee?

Thomas Dai

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Re: Sand Greens in Australia
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2024, 07:01:55 PM »
ďThe spirit of golf is undefeated.Ē Nicely put Scott.
Atb

Scott Warren

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Re: Sand Greens in Australia
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2024, 02:45:21 AM »
I didnít see the green fee, Mike, but it has 50 members.


Broken Hill GC across town is a pretty good all-grass course in tidy condition and with 5-6 standout holes.

Matt Schoolfield

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Re: Sand Greens in Australia
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2024, 04:45:13 AM »
It's very rudimentary golf run mainly by local farmers but last year Mike DeVries and I were driving from Port Fairy to Horsham (probably the best inland course in Victoria) and we drove past one - the name of which escapes me.
We pulled over, jumped the fence and walked a few holes but it was closed because it was summer.  Apparently it's only open in winter - but the trees and wispy native roughs were beautiful.
Okay, I went across the map looking for courses, and it looks like there are four sand scrape courses (that seems like a lot!) between Port Fairy and Horsham:

Macarthur Golf Club

Parklands Golf Club

Hawkesdale Golf Club

Balmoral Golf Club

Any of these locations jog the memory?
« Last Edit: February 28, 2024, 06:08:35 AM by Matt Schoolfield »

Mike_Clayton

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Re: Sand Greens in Australia
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2024, 01:30:13 PM »
Matt,


Very impressive!


It was Balmoral - which from the maps looks like the best of them.


Thanks.

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