Column: Port Royal Events, Growing & More

January 29, 2024 | 2 Comments

[Opinion column written by Kim Swan & Jayson Jackson]

In this our second collaborative article called The Doghouse Series discussing the Bermuda Government Golf Courses, we talk about successfully hosting international events while battling the annual emergence of a dreaded weed on golf greens that spends the winter but dies out when warmer temperatures arrive.

We are most proud to continue the legacy of Port Royal Golf Course, now celebrating 54 years as a Bermuda Government-owned and operated public golf course.

Ironically, when Port Royal Golf Course was first opened on October 29th, 1970, it coincided with the opening of the Southampton Princess Hotel. The advent of “South P” introduced group business to Bermuda like never before and Port Royal was there to meet that golf demand.

We are so thrilled to finally see the movement towards the redevelopment of that property on  2024 – it will provide a rising tide of economic fortunes in Bermuda- once again we are here to meet the demand.

Port Royal Golf Course Hosts Several International Events

Our profile on the international stage has seen a great deal of activity in the past three months.

Port Royal Golf Course has successfully hosted five major international golf tournaments since November 2023 to present day. They are as follows:

  • The PGA Tour Butterfield Bermuda Championship
  • The Goslings Invitational
  • The Bermuda Goodwill
  • The AJGA Butterfield Bermuda Junior Championships

The golf course met international standards, hosted top professional and amateur golfers from overseas and in doing so, participated in promoting Bermuda as a world class tourist destination

Notwithstanding, it is also important to appreciate the stress that is placed on our green complexes preparing for international events. Hosting high profile international events comes at a cost – both economic and agronomic that can be detrimental to our green complexes.

The Growing Season

We know that we must grow visitor arrivals in the winter months especially and hosting marquee golf events between November and April support that initiative. But it is necessary for us to share that during those same months Bermuda’s soil temperatures are much lower and the grass on the greens do not grow at the same pace as in warmer months.

Continuing to meet international standards on our putting surfaces during the non-growing season for TifEagle Greens, created a thin turfgrass canopy. Fast. Smooth. Consistent. To meet this mandate, we had to increase cultural practices tremendously and lower turfgrass green heights to sub .120”. These are very stressful undertakings as the turfgrass plant is not actively growing and causes the turfgrass canopy to thin.

Saying No to Poa Weed

While Port Royal Golf Course has successfully hosted five major international golf tournaments since November 2023 to present day 2024. It is noteworthy, we’ve endured less viable weather conditions and limited access to post emergent herbicides due to Environmental Protection Regulations; our nemesis poa annua has returned and will lurk until spring.

Poa annua is an intrusive weed and in our sub-tropical climate it becomes an undesirable hinderance on our green complexes until spring. However, the agronomy department is committed to seeking and implementing creative solutions with restrictions to enhance our playing conditions during this period and creating a healthy environment for turfgrass to thrive in abnormal circumstances.

Notwithstanding, the challenges we soldier on to provide a quality golf experience year-round at a public golf course featured on the PGA TOUR.

- Kim Swan is the Chairman of Bermuda Government Golf Courses and Jayson Jackson is the Acting Operations Manager & Superintendent of Bermuda Government Golf Courses.

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  1. 365 says:

    Nice, 5 major events since November, I trust the books will be looking good and profitable this year! Mr. Swan, with all due respect, Port Royal Golf course and Ocean View Golf Courses should be in much better shape. The pros at MOC, Belmont, Southampton Princess, Tuckers Point and St. Regis are fighting the same bugs and weeds but somehow those courses manage to get the job done and probably spend less doing it. How is this possible you ask? Because the membership and the management demand that they keep on top of things and are ever evolving. The bulk of the improvements would cost little to no money and involve the existing staff. The amount of overgrown and evasive trees creeping onto the fairways and tee boxes as well as breaking up the cart paths and walls is mind blowing. There are many broken and missing signs, busted trash cans and even abandoned golf equipment visible in the tall grass at OV the last time I played there. It’s the small things that make a GC great, not how many events you have.

    • Golfer says:

      I think it’s great that Bermuda is hosting such great events year after year. Golf tourism is a great way to expose our island to golfers who will hopefully put us on their travel itineraries. Between the 5 international events, the exposure we have received is fantastic!

      Congrats to the team that secures these events and brings them to our shores. I’m sure there are a lot of moving parts that go into this, well done to the team.

      365, I agree with your point that the other courses find a way to not have those same issues year after year. Upon reading this article, I only see reasons as to why the poa has been a problem and not a single word directed at a solution. If I was a member there, I’d be embarrassed to see the state of the greens at the moment. Talking to some member friends of mine, the poa has been a problem for years, and it predates any of these listed events. So what is the reason as to why it keeps happening? Is there only one solution to get rid of poa? Environmental Protection has blocked every single item that kills poa? Or did they just not budget for it….again. Enquiring minds want to know.

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