Featured photo: Toro Irrigation’s Lynx Central Control system was installed at the course for grow-in and watering efficiency. Photo: David Doguet
As the design and building of the Olympic Course is a milestone in the careers of the many people involved in constructing it, it is the same for the companies that have equipment involved in maintaining the course, including Toro Irrigation and Bernhard and Co.
The Olympic Course features an irrigation system from Riverside, California-based Toro Irrigation and mower blade sharpeners from Warwick, England-based Bernhard and Co. Both companies have had successful and enduring runs in the golf course maintenance industry.
“It has been over 100 years since they have had golf in the Olympics, so to be on the first course built specifically for an Olympic event in the modern era is an honor for us,” said John Dalman, the senior product manager for golf control systems for Toro Irrigation.
“Golfing history is being made in Brazil,” said Steve Wilson, Bernhard’s Asia Pacific business development manager. “And Bernhard’s team is on-site to provide tournament support.”
Dalman said Toro Irrigation has experience providing its equipment to high-profile courses around the world for events of such calibre.
“But it’s never a given that you are going to be chosen,” he added. “We had to earn the customer’s trust and let the customer know that we would be the best partner for them.”
The Olympic Course features Toro Irrigation’s Lynx Central Control system, the company’s newest software, which has been on the market for a few years. The Lynx is known for its precision and ease of use, which Dalman said made the system a good fit for the course considering that its superintendent, Neil Cleverly, was limited in using pesticides and fertilizer.
“So [Cleverly] is able to precisely control how much water he puts down,” Dalman says. “Overwatering can lead to a lot of issues, such as disease. “The Lynx system helps him put water where he needs it most.”
Dalman said Toro Irrigation’s Turf Guard Wireless Soil Monitoring System, installed on the Olympic Course’s greens, also enables Cleverly to water more efficiently.
The Olympic Course also features Toro Irrigation’s GDT 2-Wire System, which is installed underground. With the course’s links-style design, there were no trees to hide control boxes, which was a reason the GDT 2-Wire System made sense. Another reason was that it was simple to install, an important facet considering there weren’t a lot of people on-site who had experience with installing an irrigation system.
In the mid-1990s, Bernhard’s Wilson was a Japan-based group superintendent for Pacific Golf Management when he first met Milt Engelke, who helped develop the Zeon zoysiagrass on the Olympic Course’s tees, fairways and roughs with Poteet, Texas-based Bladerunner Farms. Engelke was traveling Asia and collecting samples of zoysiagrass, a hardy, native grass species that he felt would be ideal to withstand the climate extremes of North America. Having worked extensively in the region, Wilson was familiar with the many benefits of zoysiagrass and how to maintain it. When he and Engelke met, there was an instant connection.
So, 20 years later, it’s no surprise that Wilson and Bernhard are playing an important role during the men’s and women’s Olympic golf tournament.
Wilson said zoysiagrass has many positive attributes, including heat and drought tolerance, a dense leaf canopy to help it resist footfall and weed invasion, and it requires fewer inputs.
“But, ironically, sometimes you can be too tough for your own good,” he adds. “Blades blunt much quicker with zoysiagrass, so a regular and effective blade-sharpening program is essential to ensure consistency of play. Due to its dense leaf canopy, zoysiagrass is also more susceptible to thatch and insect infestation, meaning sharp blades and frequency of cut are more important than ever for general turf health.”
Wilson said Bernhard’s blade-sharpening system is a perfect match for the Olympic Course’s Zeon zoysiagrass.
“It guarantees a quick and easy setup, and a superfast grinding turnaround,” he added.