It’s all on course thanks to Ivan’s awesome team4th Apr 2022
Meet the course specialists who keep the 18 holes of Kingswood Golf Estate in tip-top shape – come torrential rain or scorching shine …
When questioning Kingswood green keeper Ivan van Heerden about what it takes to maintain the golf course, his response is highly revealing in terms of the skills, equipment and manpower required for this purpose. Ivan’s sterling career in the maintenance and manicure of top-level courses was highlighted in a profile piece included in the October 2021 edition of The BUZZard.
‘We are very happy with the performance of the course throughout the festive season and first months of this year. My staff has worked extremely hard to ensure that we keep up the high standards expected by management and members.
‘January and February were tough months in terms of the drought and water restrictions experienced throughout the region, but we managed to keep the course in great condition with good definition, considering how few rainy days occurred,’ says Ivan.
‘Our biggest challenge was to keep the course alive, and we had to bat cleverly when planning our water programme. This involved irrigating at night, and being particularly selective when choosing where to water, and when.’
At the time of this interview, Ivan was concerned about the town’s ever-dwindling water supply and expressed the sincere hope that rain would replenish the water level of various dams on the estate.
‘Up to now, the water in our dams ensured that we could irrigate wherever the course needed it most, concentrating on those areas most frequently traversed by golfers during the course of the game.
‘But we’ve had cause for celebration when inundated by compliments from foreigners and local players alike. Many of these folk are familiar with other Garden Route courses, but choose Kingswood because we’re looking much better than many courses in the vicinity.’
It never rains but it pours
When revisiting the subject of the substantial flood damage sustained during the final months of 2021, Ivan says that the intensive and continued remedial efforts of his team resulted in the remaining points of bother being nearly non-existent.
‘The course bears no more evidence of flood damage, other than repairs required on a dam wall close to the sixth and seventh holes. We hope to tackle these final fixes in the very near future.’
Ivan adds with a wry smile: ‘It’s rather mind-boggling – from our position today where losing the fight against the drought is a constant concern – when remembering the carnage caused by record-breaking downpours just a few months ago.’
Team work supreme
The 20-strong staff contingent that reports to Ivan on a daily basis includes workshop mechanics Gary Geduld and Henry Kortjee. This duo ensures that the machinery is maintained to a tee, with emphasis on the equipment used to cut and mow the course into a state of perfection.
‘Byron Buys is my right-hand man and shares the responsibility for all operations on the course – my eyes and ears when it comes to the progress of required fieldwork when I’m embroiled in admin, or the research required to inform our best-practice decisions.’
Supervisor Gloria Mazaleni is a hard taskmaster who oversees the care of the fairways while ensuring that all team members efficiently do those jobs assigned to them on a daily basis.
Ivan says he kicked off 2022 with a novel division of labour involving three two-man teams, each of which takes responsibility for six holes – and the system is surpassing all expectations.
Brush cutting, watering, the filling up of divots, cleaning of signage, positioning of hazard stakes, and directing of cart traffic are just some of the tasks performed by each of these three crews.
Team 1 comprises Bradley Ruiters and Garin Solomons, responsible for holes one to six; Team 2’s Linden Rondganger and Philamon Manzini manage holes seven to 12, and holes 13 to 18 are maintained by Kaya Senthile and Grant Buys of Team 3.
The fabulous five-strong ladies team of Agnes
Thabaneng, Nomawhetu Mlaka, Nontembiso Plaatjies, Cynthia Adams and Elizabeth Muller is responsible for the edging of sprinklers, tee and distance markers, and the repair of pitch marks on the greens. They also cut the greens and tees of their assigned holes, while maintaining the immediate surrounds.
‘Japie Muller and Jonas Kafile take care of the roughs, Jonas on his trusty tractor and Japie on his Sidewinder 3500, which also tackles the greens and tees. Finally, Sydney Ramphisa is our irrigation specialist. He ensures that all pipes are maintained, fixing leaks and cleaning sprayer heads for optimum output.
‘These are my people, and I couldn’t do the job without them. We deal with the water dearth daily, crossing our fingers for much-needed rain but pulling out all the stops to make the best of the current situation.’