Iceland to Rutland

Last Tuesday I packed my bags and headed off to Iceland with one of our machinery suppliers and a few other greenkeepers from various parts of the UK, and WOW, what a week it turned out to be. The trip was organised by Ransomes/Jacobsen who manufacture a wide range of greenkeeping machinery and was part of an initiative to raise the profile of their company. The itinerary was packed from 6.30am starts to 2.00am finishes. Firstly, the sightseeing….

We went to see the famous geysers, and what an amazing experience that was. Every 8 to 10 minutes a column of hot water and steam bursts into the the air to about 10 meters high. This is caused by the water being boiled deep below the surface by the molten volcanic rock, which causes it to expand and force it’s way up


We then moved on to see Gullfoss water fall that is produced  from glacier water. What amazed me was the volume and force of the water, it was immense. It is a two tiered waterfall with a total drop of approx 34m.

We managed to squeeze in 3 rounds of golf during our visit, 2 in Iceland and 1 on the Westman Islands. One of the courses was built on a Lava field, with very tight fairways and lava rock as the rough; this made for a very challenging round of golf. All the members carry what they call a “Lava club” in their bag which they use whenever they don’t find the fairway, as you have to be very skillfull not to break your wrists let alone your club.

During June and July, there is 24hrs of daylight which is very strange. Seeing people teeing off at midnight (us included) just isnt normal! On the downside, they only get 3 hrs of daylight in the winter.

I asked the greenkeepers if they have to work under spotlights, they just replied, “no, we play darts”.

You may have in the past heard or read about me complaining of lack of growth in the spring, well never again. The growth in Iceland still hasn’t started yet at over half way through the year. They have similar grasses to us, suffer the same diseases as us, yet only get about 3 months of good growing weather at best. So you can imagine that the playing conditions are not always that great, but the golf courses are full of very happy members accepting the courses as they are. I have to say that a few weeds in greens and bunkers and a few bobbly putts would soon be erased from memory, as the stunning locations, with backdrops of volcanoes and the sound of the sea crashing against the rocks just feet away, made the golf one of the best experiences I have had.

Just a brief word on the local cuisine…
During my stay I have eaten: raw puffin, raw rotting shark, raw whale meat and horse meat – they did actually cook this but only for 30 seconds each side. I wouldn’t recommend any of them. The local beer we were drinking was called “Gull”; it wasn’t untill I got home that I thought about all the gulls on the island and can’t help wondering if these are probably used in some way to produce the beer ….