Top golf course battling to fix its ‘scorched earth’ greens

The first green at the Hilton Templepatrick Golf & Country Club, Co Antrim, is among those affected
The first green at the Hilton Templepatrick Golf & Country Club, Co Antrim, is among those affected

Staff at one of Northern Ireland’s top golf courses say they are working hard to try to repair damaged greens that were “scorched” following the application of a “growth regulator” chemical.

The grass on many of the greens at Hilton Templepatrick has turned brown and died in places, leaving the course playable, but nowhere near its usual high standard and far from aesthetically pleasing.

Green shoots of recovery: The 18th green at Hilton Templepatrick. Pic by Arthur Allison, Pacemaker

Green shoots of recovery: The 18th green at Hilton Templepatrick. Pic by Arthur Allison, Pacemaker

According to a spokesperson for Hilton, the problems with the greens began following the application of the “plant growth regulator” chemical in mid to late April.

The condition of the course has been criticised by members and visitors, and the Golfing Union of Ireland was forced to reschedule a qualifying competition that had been due to take place there last month.

Stressing that everything possible is being done to rectify the problem with the greens, the Hilton spokesperson said: “A number of greens at Hilton Templepatrick have been affected by scorching following a dosage of plant growth regulator and the recent drought has not helped in their recovery.

“An expert consultant from STRI, Europe’s leading sports turf research institute, has visited the course and is providing advice and support to aid recovery on the greens.

“The course remains open for play and will continue to be whilst treatment is under way.”

She continued: “The results of tests show that the chemical has worked its way through the system. The damage has been done and the greens are definitely in recovery now.

“We haven’t got a timeline for treatment as yet, but we are hopeful that they will soon be back to the superb greens that players here are used to.

“All the staff are working hard to make sure the greens are back in top condition as soon as possible.”

In the meantime, the club is offering reduced green fee rates while work to repair the greens is ongoing.

One regular at the course, who didn’t want to be named, told the News Letter that the greens are looking “a lot better” than they did just a few weeks ago.

“The back nine isn’t too bad now and the place is definitely starting to look better, but it will take a while yet,” he said.

“Some of the greens on the front nine look like they’re still dead, but to be honest it’s getting better.”

The championship course at Hilton Templepatrick opened in 1999 and is renowned as being one of the best resort golf courses in Northern Ireland.

The award-winning course, where the annual full membership fee is just over £1,000, has previously hosted the Ulster Championship – the oldest PGA tournament on the Irish calendar.