GC Mannheim-Viernheim: Top sport plus nature conservation

When you talk about GC Mannheim-Viernheim, the first thing that comes to mind is sport. The Bundesliga club has made a name for itself as an education and training location for top players, which is why the topics of the golf course and golf and nature are often only noticed at second glance. One thing is inevitably linked to the other, which quickly becomes clear when you follow head greenkeeper Mark Timberlake and club manager Vincent Weinzettel around the course.

Fescue grasses as a supporting element

“Here on the old nine holes we have this great character of a course like in Surrey,” enthuses the Brit Timberlake. “However, we also see here that the dryness and the sandy soil lead to a lot of worn spots on the fairway and bunker crests. Here we are now trying to work out this classic character more strongly, possibly sowing heather and increasingly relying on Fescue as grass because it saves water, is robust and looks good.”

New irrigation concept

While Timberlake is committed to drawing this vision of the future, it becomes clear that resource-saving and site-specific care has many advantages here: The sandy soil absorbs water immediately, so that the fairways can only be kept continuously green with the existing single-row sprinkler system with a very large amount of water. “It’s our turn, the sprinklers will be successively replaced by models with individual controls,” notes Weinzettel. This year alone, 68 sprinkler heads were installed to reduce water consumption when irrigating the semi-rough. “We are expecting cost savings in the five-figure range and at the same time we can save a lot of water, which is good for the environment,” summarizes Weinzettel.

The 70-hectare golf course, which holds a total of around 44,000 trees, has always been a target for storms in recent years. Tree planting programs are continuously supported by management and greenkeeping, because 50 to 100 dead trees occur every year and traffic safety on the hiking trails has to be established. “Our goal now is to create better playability along the fairways under the trees by using shredded deadwood on the one hand, but also to save on transport and disposal here,” says Timberlake. A tree register is planned for the future.

The GC Mannheim-Viernheim 1930 eV has been involved in the certification program Golf & Nature of the German Golf Association since 2013. Environmental protection and nature conservation are anchored in the statutes, numerous measures to increase biodiversity are part of the program. Bird boxes are hanging, perches for birds of prey were set up, but on the other hand the numerous wild boar had to be controlled with a fence around the site.

Creation of flower meadows

In the meantime, the club is also considering hard rough grazing by sheep along hole 14, where a large area stretches. In recent years, as part of a cooperation with the local group of the BUND, perennial flower meadows have been planted on an area of more than 3000 m². A classic in the area of the measures of the “Habitat golf course” program, which is well received by all players. Regardless of whether you are a hobby player or a Bundesliga club.