On tour with Keegan Powell, Superintendent of The Sands Golf Course since mid 2017.

Keegan Powell, a Sunbury boy who played footy for the Belmont Lions and a passionate Geelong supporter, is the Superintendent of The Sands Golf Course. Keegan and his team are responsible for the vast improvement we have all seen in the golf course over the past 12 months.

Keegan completed his four year apprenticeship from 2007-2011, under Andrew Casey (now GM at Royal Canberra) at the Northern Golf Club. He then went travelling.

  • He worked for six months at Plainfield Country Club in New Jersey which holds the Barclays Classic, a PGA Tour Event (held every 4th year).
  • He then moved to the Isleworth Golf Club in Orlando, Florida for six months where Tiger Woods lives and plays and holds the Tavistock Cup.
  • From the US to London, he worked at Sunningdale Golf Club for the next two years in a Foreman’s position. Sunningdale has two 18 hole golf courses, both being ranked in the world’s top 100 golf courses in Golf Digest magazine with the Old Course 28th and the New Course 43rd in the world.
  • To complete his overseas jaunts, he spent 12 months as Assistant Superintendent at the Al Badia Golf Course in Dubai.

Finally he returned to Australia, where he worked at the Riversdale Golf Club for six months before joining The Sands as Assistant Superintendent in January 2016. He was promoted to Superintendent mid 2017.

Keegan manages a team of 11 permanent staff with two further casuals employed over the summer period. He has three serious golfers in his staff, with his Assistant Superintendent, Brendan Dooley playing off a handicap of 3.

Keegan and his team have achieved the following over the past 12 months:

  • The coring of the greens, which had not been done for a number of years, which has improved them substantially. This upcoming renovation won’t be as aggressive as last years but will still be taking a substantial amount of material out of the greens
  • Adding “Primo” applications which shortens the distance between the shoot nodes and suppresses the vertical growth. The plants energy is diverted and has lateral growth instead, ultimately creating stronger, healthier, denser turf
  • All greens get a verticut a number of different times throughout the year at different settings depending on what we are trying to achieve. Benefits of doing this cultural practice range from thatch removal, reduction of grain and compaction relief. Doing this practice also produces and stimulates new root growth
  • A firebreak was created around the whole golf course and will be maintained
  • The fairways have been extended and the rough reduced across the whole golf course to improve playability and speed of play. Currently the left hand side of the 11th is being cleared and planted with native grasses. The trees on the right hand side of the 12th are being thinned to make the hole more playable and create a more natural sand dune look
  • Bunker walls have been scraped and improved, their edges trimmed, with the continuous movement of sand. The improvement of the bunkers will continue
  • Tree trimming has been conducted across the course with the objective of making it more visually attractive, playable and increasing the speed of play
  • Keegan is currently in discussions with GORC, the Surf Coast Council and Parks Victoria to try to effectively manage the rabbit problem. We have mapped the burrows, but it is pointless going further until our borders are effectively managed.

Keegan’s team is also responsible for the estate maintenance and their achievements have been as follows:

  • Mowing and raking the estate’s nature strips. There have been some discussions about the value of raking as the effect may only last for a day depending on the wind. The committee view was that it created a standard within the estate which was worth maintaining
  • The OC1 committee had an arborist evaluate the nature strip trees within the estate. The report recommended the removal of six dead or severely damaged trees which Keegan’s team has now removed and council has agreed to remove the stumps. The report also recommended pruning. A pruning expert has been contracted by the OC1 committee to advise Keegan’s team on the pruning which will be completed over this winter
  • Keegan’s team are currently top dressing the bare nature strip areas with soil and then seeding it
  •  Last month the new owners have supported Keegan and his team by leasing new equipment –  two fairway mowers, one golf green mower, two workman Carts and a
    “Z” Master mower for the nature strips.

We are lucky to have Keegan; he and his team should be congratulated on what they have achieved, both on the golf course and in the estate.

Some recent photos of the course from the air:

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