17th March 2020 – New Look Pins And Flags

To coincide with the redesign of the club logo and change in colours, new club pins and flags have been sourced to compliment the rebrand.

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The new navy and white pins replace the existing black, white and club coloured pins. They will be used during major member competitions, with the clubs traditional red and white pins used during regular competition and social play.

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Sourcing the new pins and flags proved tricky. Currently, no major golf furniture manufacturers produce navy and white pins. The task of producing the new pins was therefore undertaken in house. White and navy vinyl guard was purchased to shrink wrap the new pins. This painstaking process involves cutting the vinyl to length and heating it using a heat gun. Once the vinyl is softened with heat, it is stretched into position and left to cool and set.

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The final stage in the process of readying the new pins and flags for play is waterproofing the flags. One of the greatest elements of the greenkeeping industry is the willingness of other turf professionals to share ideas. Erwan Le Cocq from WINSTONgolf in Germany has used a product called Nikwax for a number of years. The waterproofing product protects the flags against stains and reduces fading. We are hoping by using this product we’ll be able to preserve the pristine appearance of the flags for a greater amount of time.


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15th March 2020 – FTMI

In 2013 I was lucky enough to be one of the first 20 students from Europe chosen for the Future Turf Managers Initiative. Three days of education aimed at Deputies and First Assistants looking for that next step up. Subjects such as assertiveness, CV’s and cover letters and budgeting were taught. There was also a large section on how to work out what kind of staff you have and how to get the most from them.


For the last four years I have been lucky enough to be asked back as a mentor to help guide the students and give real life experience to supplement all of the learning. There was also a lot of role play to help the students deal with interviews and board meetings. David Bancroft Turner delivered a fantastic workshop on golf club politics where we all worked out what kind of animal we were in our work place. On explaining this model to James Leah, he informed me that I am a mule where as he is a wise owl….. interesting!

The picture below is Michael Astrop with the class of 2020 in the board room at Ransomes Jacobsen Ipswich.

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Before everything got going we all had a tour of the factory. Ransomes Jacobsen are one of the biggest suppliers of amenity and golf course machinery and the biggest in Europe. A piece of sheet metal literally goes in the front door and a machine comes out the back door, it really is fascinating.

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Photos were not allowed in the factory sadly however these were taken from the warehouse

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The course itself is very intense, classes start at 8am and finish after 10pm where students would experience and practice public speaking in front of their peers

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The mentors also did a Q&A and Phil Helm from Goodwood spoke about practice makes perfect when being a good manager. Phil is one of the best public speakers in our industry and he has a good story to tell.


All in all I not only feel like a mentor at the FTMI but also a student. I have returned to work with a load of new ideas and hunger to achieve new goals. what a great initiative.



8th March 2020 – ‘Smiler’ Perry Digidet

Last February I was lucky enough to do a presentation in Iceland about Royal Cinque Ports. Speaking also was an incredibly interesting Dutchman called William Boogaarts who introduced me to this fascinating invention to which he kindly gave me the blueprint:


This invention basically counts grass! A mobile phone sits on a cradle and takes photos at various points of the green. These photos can then be blown up on computer and a percentage of different grass types can be calculated. from this we can benchmark progress and in our case the progress would be introducing more fescue in to the greens and reducing the amount of annual meadow grass. Each tapestry pin points at a blade of grass.


The design was shown to Michael Perry and he produced this in no matter of time. I am incredibly grateful to Michael for this and would like to thank him for this along with all of the work he does for the club behind the scenes.

6th March – Lee Campany Leaves For Sene Valley

Lee Campany was brought in from North Foreland five years ago as First Assistant and has worked way up to Deputy Course Manager, a position he excelled in. Lee has so much drive and so many amazing ideas of his own that he was destined to achieve more. Lee finished today to start as Course Manager at Sene Valley on monday.


Lee worked really hard on personal development, attending courses at the Greenkeeping convention in Harrogate as well as excelling at the Future Turf Managers Initiative (FTMI). Sene valley has a very large membership and with a new Pro in place too will undergo some changes in the future.

Lee was a great friend to everyone in the team and brightened up the office in the morning with his exceedingly fast wit. He was also a great problem solver and could turn his hand to anything, a jack of all trades and the kingpin in the RCP set up.

Sene Valley will be a course to keep an eye on in the coming years with Lee steering the ship.

29th February 2020 – New John Deere Tractor

The club invested well this year in a powerful John Deere 5100M tractor. This machine is an essential piece of kit, kept busy by topdressing, pulling trailers and lifting and loading. The old tractor was under powered and there for not idea for some of the lifting required. The depreciation on John Deere tractors is very low and the life span very high which makes this an excellent investment, they are also incredibly reliable.



We had a visitor today who was particularly fascinated by the new tractor. RCP touring professional Steven Tiley was fascinated by the vast amount of controls inside and for anyone who knows Steven won’t be surprised to find out that he asked an extraordinary¬†amount of questions!


28th February 2020 – Chris Clark Leaves For Princes

Chris Clark was my first ever apprentice starting at 17 years old. 3 years and an NVQ level 2 later and Chris has achieved a fantastic promotion to First Assistant at neighbouring Princes.


Chris was a very popular member of the team and achieved a great deal at the club. He was runner up at the Toro Young Student Greenkeeper Of The Year Award in 2017 when fellow workmate Nick Machin went on to take the main prize of Student Greenkeeper Of The Year.

Princes have undergone huge changes both on the course and with staff and the McGuirk family continue to invest which makes for a very exciting role for Chris and indeed a prosperous future in Turf management.

28th February 2020 – New Sleeper Road crossing on 11

Another substantial project which has been carried out is the upgrading of the crossing of the 11th ancient highway.


We are always under constant threat of cars entering the course and causing damage, after the horrific spate of vandalism in December 2018 we introduced sawn off fenceposts which have proven to be extremely successful, more so recently when a car bumper was ripped off as a car tried to access the 16th. The posts however are a little unsightly so close to a green so the decision was made to sleeper edge the track,


The same rules apply with G.U.R and trolleys can either split left or right or negotiate the sleeper kerb with the drop being around a foot.


It is essential that we protect our golf course and  do our upmost to try and prevent vandalism.


Whilst installing the sleepers we noticed that a ‘thinned’ shot which trundles along the ground can still make it across the track. Any poor shot intended for the green ending up between the sleepers will still be allowed a free drop as before outside of the white lines.