Over recent years the standard and presentation of paths and flow areas leading golfers between tees, fairways and greens has improved significantly. The improvement in these areas is largely thanks to the clubs investment in a state of the art irrigation system. The system allows paths to be irrigated accurately, helping to preserve turf health in the summer months of increased golfer foot traffic and high daytime temperatures.
In order to further enhance the golfing experience a number of path areas were identified for improvement. The footpath crossings at the 7th, 10th and 15th have in recent years become rutted and uneven due to the high volume of foot and vehicle traffic they receive. It was decided these areas would be ‘sleepered’ in a boardwalk fashion using salvaged railway sleepers to create a continuous path between the tees and fairways.
The construction of the sleeper paths was broken down into several stages.
Firstly, the existing path crossings were excavated to the required depth:
Sleepers were then laid into position with care taken to level each individual sleeper accurately. This process can often prove tricky due to the bowed nature of the aged and salvaged wood. Once in position, the sleepers are fastened together using 6 x 150 mm screws. The picture below shows First Assistant Greenkeeper Tristan Martin working on the 7th sleeper path.
When the entire path crossing is laid with sleepers, the area surrounding the boardwalk is backfilled and turfed so a seamless transition can be made between the sleeper paths and existing grass walkway. The photos below show the construction process on the 10th hole.
In total 73 sleepers were used across the 5 new paths. It was decided before the beginning of the project that the sleepers would be purchased using the proceeds from the sale of old club flags. The old flags had recently been replaced and it offered an ideal opportunity for members to have a piece of RCPGC memorabilia at home. Royal Cinque Ports Artisan member Arron Skirrow (Frames For You) professionally framed the old club flags beautifully. In total £1700 was raised to fund the project. Many thanks to Arron for his brilliant work and to the members for supporting this project.
One of the more noticeable areas of improvements in the last few years have been around greens complexes. In 2017 we sprayed a chemical that killed all of the rye and Yorkshire fog grasses which gave us an opportunity to increase finer grasses and lower cutting heights to bring back links characteristics. On the 8th for example, a ball missing the green would often settle in longer grass where as now balls even missing the green by the smallest of margins would end up in the bunker.
8th hole – 2013
8th hole – 2020
Some may see this as a negative however we are a championship golf course and we have a fantastic reputation for being one of the toughest, which is a good thing, right!?
10th hole -2013
10th hole – 2020
Rough edged bunkers take a few years to establish, settle in and weather, the 10th is a fantastic example of this and probably has the most amount of character of any bunker on the entire course. maintenance is extremely low and the natural look fits in well to the links surroundings.
13th hole – 2013
13th hole – 2020
14th hole – 2013
14th hole – 2020
The 14th hole has really benefited from the introduction of some modern dwarf rye grasses on the area to the left of the deep bunker where the majority of traffic pass through. we have full grass coverage on this area now.
Tonight Course Manager James Bledge delivered a presentation covering four main topics, his career to date, the agronomy history at RCP, improvements over the last 7 years and his beliefs in turf management.
The presentation went live on Zoom on a Saturday night, he has since re visited the presentation and re recorded it, at the same time elaborating on certain subjects.
The presentation can be found on our YouTube channel:
This can become more of a regular occurrence if it proves popular with the membership. If there are any questions you would like answered or if there is anything that has happened on the course over the last few years that you wish to know more about then please let us know and we can form a presentation based around a question answer session.
Grab yourself a big cup of tea or even better a large glass of red wine, sit back and enjoy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Photos were not allowed in the factory sadly however these were taken from the warehouse
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
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.
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.
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.