MAINTAINING KLGCC FAIRWAYS TO BE AT ITS BEST
Meet the man behind KLGCC’s championship golf courses
Kuala Lumpur, Thursday, 1 September 2015 – The Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club (KLGCC) is renowned as one of Asia’s premier golfing destinations and has been hosting major international tournaments including the Maybank Malaysian Open, CIMB Classic and Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia annually; for three consecutive years.
A provider of world class hospitality services and top notch facilities, KLGCC presents two championship golf courses which are highly-praised by golfers globally for its exceptional condition and quality.
The team responsible for the golf courses is headed by Mohd Nizam Othman, KLGCC’s Course Superintendent. The scope of a Course Superintendent oversees four main areas namely Agronomy, Horticulture & Landscaping, Irrigation, and Workshop & Machinery. A team of 160 staff; 90 of whom are involved in golf course maintenance and a further 70 look after the grounds and landscaping that KLGCC golfers enjoy so much.
As a championship golf course, Nizam and his team work closely with the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour and European Tour agronomists and tour directors. “Each Tour has a different and strict set of specifications for golf course conditions. We do not compromise on any of them.”
“After every tournament, we work against time and often the weather to bring the golf course back to normal conditions. This involves remedying the stress on the greens, replanting work on the marquee areas, bringing down the rough height to name a few,” said Nizam; who has been with the club for eight years.
Malaysia can experience very erratic weather conditions, with humidity during the day, sometimes cloudy conditions, and heavy downpours up to 100mm at any time causing grasses to disease, drainage problems and fallen trees. For each tournament, Nizam and his team work throughout the night to prepare the golf course for the following morning. Indeed KLGCC’s green keepers manage the golf courses in immaculate condition; making the greens playable even though there could be a thunderstorm the night before.
“It’s challenging to sustain the quality of turf grass, every day of the year, considering such humidity, cloudy conditions and rain all year long,” he said. “These factors are a breeding haven for grass diseases, parasite activities and a lack of photosynthesis.”
To illustrate on the extent of KLGCC’s grass is being pampered, four units of giant turf fans have been especially brought in from the US to cool and de-stress the grass on hot days. Both golf courses have a combined underground network of irrigation system that stretches over 130km throughout the 36 holes to irrigate and quickly drain away rain water after every downpour. Without proper drainage system, the golf course would be inundated with rain water and deemed unplayable. Various specialized machinery are deployed to cut, mow, roll and trim the grass to the exact specification of international tournament standards. KLGCC’s soil and grass health are consistently monitored with a thorough record-keeping of all data collected on ground. Every six months, soil samples are sent to an independent science laboratory for testing.
World Class Golf Courses
Designed as a peaceful, private golf and country club, KLGCC is strategically located in the lush landscape of Bukit Kiara, just eight kilometres away from the heart of Kuala Lumpur city. The surrounding of the clubhouse is a thoughtfully planned environment of relaxed elegance and natural beauty.
Originally built on a former rubber plantation by Nelson & Wright in 1992; KLGCC went through a major renovation from E&G Parslow in 2007. More than 3,000 trees have been planted since construction and KLGCC is now home to more than 50 bird species, in addition to dozens of ground-dwelling animals, such as squirrel, jungle fowl and monitor lizard. Both courses feature SeaIsle Supreme on the greens and Seashore Paspalum ‘Salam’ on the remaining grassed areas.
At 6,071 metres from the back tees, KLGCC’s East Course is parkland style, with vibrant and highly colourful landscaping. The design takes full advantage of the smooth undulating curves with indigenous grasses and extensive wetlands providing natural habitats for numerous species of wildlife and birds. It features impeccably maintained fairways and greens, challenging elevation changes and an environment that enhances the essence of the local landscape.
KLGCC’s West Course is the longer and the more challenging of the two courses and at 6,400 metres from the tournament tees, it is the ideal venue for the major tournaments hosted by the club every year. In 2006, the West Course was extensively reconstructed over a period of eighteen months. The result was a tougher West Course, which reopened in October 2008 and now features a new lake on Hole 9 and extensions to the previous watercourses resulting in water hazards on no fewer than thirteen holes.
After overseeing the re-construction of KLGCC’s 36 greens, the golf courses went on to capture many awards including the Best Course Renovation in Asia in 2009; Best Golf Course of the Year in 2010-2014; and Best Championship Golf Course in Asia 2013 by renowned golf publications.
The Green Man
Superintendent Mohd Nizam Othman is one of the new-generation of professional Asians who is spearheading golf in the region where golf is steadily gaining popularity. He has been engaged in golf course management since 1995 after having completed a degree from the Malaysian Agriculture Institute and a Turf Management Course at the New Zealand Sports Turf Institute.
With over 20 years of managing golf courses under his belt, Nizam is one of the very few Superintendents in Asia who has worked with both the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour and European Tour in preparing Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club for major international tournaments namely the CIMB Classic, Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia and Maybank Malaysian Open.
KLGCC’s East Course hosts the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia event, while the West Course hosts the US PGA as well as the European Tour. That’s three major international tour events (and three features) within 10 months — not to mention about 50,000 member rounds KLGCC accommodates annually.
Indeed; it takes a very organized and disciplined person to coordinate such complexity with consistent high quality play conditions. It is no wonder that Nizam’s views are constantly sought after at golf course conferences and workshops where Nizam shared his experiences in world-class tournament standards and superintendents’ best practices in preparation for major tournaments. One of the things that often fascinates the other Superintendents is the erratic Malaysian rain and thunderstorms; and how KLGCC manages to overcome this.
Nizam who is 44 this year, had the exclusive opportunity to be a participant of the famed John Deere Volunteer Program during the prestigious Players Championship that was held at TPC Sawgrass in Florida last year. Nizam was one of the six superintendents given the privilege to get an insider view of happenings behind the scene.
Adding on to his credentials, Nizam who hails from Johor is also a member of the Golf Course Superintendent Association of Malaysia and Golf Course Superintendent of America (GCSAA), golf’s foremost facilitator of best course-maintenance practices worldwide. Needless to say, he is on his way to be fully Certified Golf Course Superintendent - Class A by 2016.
Asked about his source of motivation, Nizam whose wife is a physics lecturer and together they have four children; said – “Being a husband and a father made me a better man.”