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How Well Do We Know People in our Community?

March 12, 2024 March 2024, Regular Features No Comments

Michael Bing talks to Lyle Griffiths

Michael was raised in Auckland, attending St Peters College where he loved playing both

cricket in the summer months, and rugby in the winter.

But there were always connections to Martinborough. 

“My father had relatives here, and as children we used to return frequently to help Robert Bing with the fruit and vegetable store and the Fish and Chip shop. 

As children we thought there was little about Martinborough that was enticing. But we did enjoy roller blading down the main street.

When I was about to marry Chloe, a position for a pharmacist opened up in Martinborough.

Chloe flew down, was interviewed, and won the position. Our wedding took place shortly

after, and for our honeymoon we cruised the Baltic sea visiting Russia, and Scandinavia. It

was magical.

In Auckland I had completed my training in turf management before working at the Royal

Auckland Grange Golf Club in Papatoetoe, Turf management is the science of managing

the grass, understanding the agronomy, learning the interaction of the roll of the ball on the

grass, and the impact of the bounce and speed, and how it affects the play of the game.

We moved to Martinborough, Chloe to the pharmacy and I worked for a contracting firm

named Vine Managers managing Luna and a number of other smaller vineyards.

Then an opportunity arose for me to become the Greenkeeper of the Martinborough Golf

Club. Turf grass management is comprehensive, It encompasses mowing, seeding,

fertilising, coring, weather variations, determining the best variety of grass for each situation,

maintaining equipment, as well as managing bunkers.

One of the hardest aspects of my job is to maintain the coverage of the grass. On the greens

we aim for the length of the grass to be just 3millimetres. In Martinborough one of the most

pesky grasses is Poa. To counteract it we try to promote Brown Top by seeding the greens

twice a year. Additionally, in either in spring or autumn we core once with sand.

On the tee boxes different problems occur. On the short Par 3 holes players are more likely

to use wedges to play their shot. Divots are a frequent result. Par 4 and 5 tee boxes are

easier to maintain. We fill the divots with sand, aerate the soil, sand top-dress and sow seed.

Bunkers can easily be affected by high winds, so they need to be kept moist. Water holds

the sand, preventing it from being blown away.

On the fairways we try to make them look attractive as well as functional. When the

temperature drops, and the grass begins to make a comeback we stripe the fairways with a

diamond cut.

When fertilising we use a liquid fertiliser which activates the microbials in the soil. After

cutting the grass there is always a proportion of residual grass waste which is helpful for

reuse of nitrogen and nutrients.

Of course this is only the tip of the iceberg. Maintaining equipment is equally important.

Weather can have critical impacts on course conditions. Frost can play havoc in winter. Dry

conditions necessitate a greater use of water yet must adhere to limited water restrictions.

Very wet conditions require aerating the soil, creating better drainage.

I never thought I would return to being a greenkeeper, but I love it. Every day is different.

Every day is a challenge.. It is absorbing, and when I have time off I can always play golf.


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