Since 1986, the 18-hole golf course has been located in the Smitsschorre nature reserve on the edge of Axel. This is between creeks and forests, which is bordering the typical Zeeland polders with dikes and poplars. One of the holes is nearby the striking landmark, Axel water tower. For ten years the golf course have been maintained by a golf course contractor.
Paul Mannaert has been the head greenkeeper of this A-status, 18-hole course for two years. He says that the golf course at De Woeste Kop golf club was built on reclaimed soil from the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal, which was widened in the 1960s:
“The course is largely built on pure sand. Below is a loam-sand mixture that adversely affects water permeability, and it often remains a bit damp after heavy rain. Furthermore, the course is about 7 meters higher than its surroundings.”
“I really like it here"
About seventeen years ago Mannaert started working at the De Woeste Kop golf club and the last two years has been as the head greenkeeper.
“It's a beautiful golf course and I really enjoy it here. And I can honestly say that the quality of the golf course has improved considerably thanks to the outsourcing of the maintenance. In those ten years we have made a considerable improvement. This is also reflected in the number of members: in 2012 there were 450 members; now there are 1100. About 44 percent of this comes from nearby Belgium: we are the only 18-hole course in this area.”
Proportion of bent grass on the greens has increased to almost 80 percent
Mannaert says that regular overseeding plays a big role. “I overseed the greens five times a year with creeping bent grass (Agrostis Stolonifera). I do this as soon as most of the night frost has passed: shortly before the start of the competition, after the competition, at the beginning of September and again at the end of September/beginning of October. I divide the amount of grass seed, which I sow, over five sowings. This way I spread the risks that the overseeded grass will have a bad establishment. This approach has led to an increase in the proportion of bent grass on my greens from 20 percent to almost 80 percent in eight years. Moreover, I change varieties to avoid a monoculture. In 2021, I sowed with Cobra Nova, this year with CY-2 and in 2023 I will use Independence again.''
Different equipment is used for overseeding. Mannaert overseeds the greens with a Maredo seeder: “The contractor H4A purchased two Vredo machines. One large for the fairways and tees and one smaller Vredo for smaller surfaces that are more difficult to access.The fairways and tees are overseeded twice a year with 4turf®, a mixture of tetraploid perennial ryegrasses (Lolium perenne) known to have a higher drought and salt tolerance. I plan to overseed the fairways and tees with red fescue (Festuca rubra sp). I think this is even more resistant to drought, although 4turf® is resistant to heat. We will all have to deal with those changes in the future.”