Home Golf Meet Mark Kirkby, Anahita Golf Club superintendent

Meet Mark Kirkby, Anahita Golf Club superintendent

by Anahita Mauritius

Anahita’s manicured greens and fairways require meticulous and continous maintenance. Behind this thorough work hides Mark Kirkby, the golf’s superintendent, who explains to us the changes implemented over the last months and those planned for the future. He also shares his inspiration for the improvement of Anahita’s golf course.

How is Anahita’s golf course at the moment?

The golf course is good condition considering that we have just finished with the fairways’ renovation. We are also making the most of this quiet period to undertake works which are not easy when running normally, such as spraying and turfing out foreign grasses, doing a full irrigation audit and painting areas of the maintenance facility. The renovation of the fairways lasted only 2 weeks this year due to the smaller number of golfers as opposed to 4 to 6 weeks in normal times, and the course will probably be in peak condition by the end of September.

What works did you undertake on the course during the lockdown and why?

During the lockdown, we were primarily concerned with maintaining the golf course’s playing surface (tees, greens and fairways) to be ready to welcome guests as soon as we would open again. In the beginning, we only had 3 staff but luckily we got  help from many homeowners, which allowed me to keep the maintenance works on track according to my planning. Without their support, the conditions of the golf wouldn’t have been the same.

Additional work permits for the staff also made it much easier to keep the course in good shape and we made the most of this period to renovate the greens to avoid carrying out these disruptive works when guests are playing.

What is your vision for the future of Anahita’s golf course?

My vision for Anahita is to continue to present the best conditioned course in Mauritius! However, to remain steady in the face of new golf courses being opened, we should look at ways to enhance our product, such as:

• Installing continuous cart paths so that we do not have to restrict cart usage during rainy periods.

• Renovating and re-lining the bunkers to ensure that the sand remains contamination free and that we have less work to repair bunker wash outs after heavy rain events.

• Changing the tees’, fairways’, and roughs’ grass from bermudagrass to paspalum grass. Paspalum is greener and generally improves the aesthetic appeal of golf courses.. This variety is also better suited to our growing conditions and will provide better playing surfaces throughout the year, especially during winter. The new paspalum varieties have been developed since the past few years and compared to performs better than our bermudagrass, developed in the 1960’s.

• Renovating the range tees which includes adding undercover hitting bays for hot and rainy weather.

• Adding new tees to shorten the course for some players and junior golfers.

• Upgrading the irrigation delivery system to make efficient use of the available water and improve the playing conditions.

We also aim at implementing an organic turf maintenance programme which will deliver top quality playing surfaces while being more environmentally conscious.

As superintendent do you have an inspirational golf course as a reference worldwide?

My inspiration comes from watching tournaments around the world and to keep an eye on what is being presented locally, the general condition of  courses in Mauritius being very high.

I generally prefer more manicured and highly maintained courses compared to the more natural links style courses. Just like most superintendents around the world, Augusta National is the benchmark I dream to achieve but without the stress involved. Generally, any well presented and landscaped courses are an inspiration to me because I understand what is involved to achieve these results.

Does knowing a golf course perfectly help you to perform well when you play on it?

I think that having a good idea of the layout and the challenges of the golf course, helps any golfer to plan their way around, but having a good idea of how to play each hole to your strengths is probably the best way to play well. Also try to keep out of trouble as far as possible! This is generally far easier said than done.

What is your favourite hole at Anahita and why?

I have a few favourite holes at Anahita, but I would say hole No.4. It is a reminder of the setting in which you are playing golf and that Anahita is a very special place. My next favourite would be hole No.13. I like the way it is shaped and generally, it is possible to make a birdie or even an eagle which is always appreciated during a round of golf.

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