Q & A: Keeping Earth Course in check at Jumeirah Golf Estates ahead of DP World Tour Championship

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The DP World Tour Championship (November 16-19 2017) is played on the Earth Course.

Only the best will do for the world’s top golfers – and you could say Mark Tupling has the hardest job on Earth.

Tupling is agronomy manager on Jumeirah Golf Estates and is tasked with ensuring that some 160 hectares of golfing goodness is fit for purpose all year round despite those unforgiving summer months.

The European Tour’s Race to Dubai concludes with the DP World Tour Championship at Earth Course in two weeks and below, Sport360 learn just how intense the upkeep is.

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Q) With the DP World Tour Championship soon upon us, how far out do you start preparing for the tournament?

Mark Tupling: We start planning for next year the week of the previous event – so now we’re looking at 2018. All we can do now is get the green surfaces tournament-ready, but all the other work is just fine-tuning.

So now we’re looking at how we can make 2018’s tournament better.

That sounds intense. What are the key stages?

Firstly there’s a planning stage, where we review the tournament we’ve just done, then we can get into the spring time and I’m a facilitator for the department to make sure all the communication is being sent to the members about what we’ve got to do for the summer. We put all the right fertility products, plant protection, pesticides in place so when we do carry out our main work it’s smooth running.

How much water and manpower does it take?

We use about 10,000 cubic metres per 24 hours for the two golf courses. That irrigates not just the grass but the landscape, trees and shrubs like that. We have on the golf course 160 hectares of irrigated land. Top to bottom we have 73 staff to manage all that. Our busiest period for work is the summer when it’s the hottest and we have less working hours with the water restrictions that we have.

Just how hard is it to manage a golf course in the UAE?

The design dictates how intensive it is, not just the region. The other courses in the region are all intensively managed but especially Earth, we have 99 bunkers that are very steep-faced. To hand rake those bunkers we need eight to ten people on a daily basis, and then we’ve got all of the landscaped areas. So it’s a really intensive golf course that demands high maintenance.

Master of the Earth: 2016 winner Matthew Fitzpatrick.

What are the biggest problems that crop up?

Anything to do with irrigation! This year there have been city-wide restrictions in Dubai during July and August simply to do with residency levels. We’re using treated sewage effluent as our irrigation water and if there aren’t enough people living here to produce foul water, there isn’t enough irrigation water to going forward. That’s one issue we had this summer. Other than that if you have a pump station breakdown and don’t get water, you’re really on borrowed time.

What’s it like when it’s all over for another year?

It’s the week after that the staff goes into shock really – you’ve got the adrenaline of the tournament with the TV cameras on your course, and then you’re in on Monday morning again. You get the tournament blues for a bit!

The DP World Tour Championship is once more a free event to attract a crowd of both golf and non-golf fans. To register for Free Fast Track Entry, visit www.dpwtc.com.

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