The Club has just embarked on an exciting autumn and winter of works that will improve the facilities. Two major operations will be running in parallel with each other – irrigation of a new sprinkler system and a major course and practice facility construction project.
The new irrigation system will safeguard our golf course from decreasing supplies of water and allow us to irrigate more effectively and efficiently. The problems associated with an ageing irrigation system were flagged up a few years ago and, after much thought, planning and presenting, the new irrigation system is breaking ground this month.
MJ Abbotts are the Club’s chosen irrigation contractors and have been working with the Club for the past twenty years. The impact made at the start of the install will be very discreet, as they will be undertaking a lot of surveying, marking out and planning before physically breaking ground. The first real signs of work will be the replacement of valve box assemblies which are the green boxes that can be found at the edge of fairways and in the rough. For the first month or so they will be working out of the way of golf undertaking this task along with working on the pump house at the chequers and transfer pump on the 17th. The more intrusive work will occur from the month of December onwards where in some cases an entire hole will close at a time to ensure the contractors are kept safe from flying golf balls. During this time they will be mole ploughing in new pipe and cable, and much later installing sprinkler heads. They will work around the Club’s diary to ensure that the course is quiet when planning major hole closures. MJ Abbott has the best reputation in the industry for not only undertaking quality installs but leaving the course in a great condition.
Significant construction works will be taking place on the 3rd, 10th and 16th holes. These changes will be in line with the designs of Martin Ebert, the Club’s golf course architect. On completion of the course construction, works will then move to the Club’s practice facilities, with a brand new short game area being built to the west of the chipping green – also to Martin Ebert’s specifications.
A company called 1st Golf are undertaking the entire construction project. 1st Golf have worked a great deal with Martin Ebert on some of the best golf courses in the world and their work is outstanding.
In the first week of September heavy plant machinery such as excavators, dumper trucks and screeners made their way to the 3rd hole where they have start stripping and shaping the new fairway first before moving on to the paths and tees. There will be a lot of rough translocation to ensure much of the good dune grasses are saved and re-used, which was one of the conditions from Natural England to support the changes. The huge mound of imported topsoil to the right of the hole will be spread over the finished shape to provide a good growing medium.
Instead of turfing or seeding the new fairways we have chosen to use hollow cores taken from the rest of the fairways. This will take place on September 25/26 and there will be two holes closed at one time to keep the contractors safe. Using hollow cores from our own fairways means we can create new fairways with the exact same grass composition by laying these cores and growing them.
Irrigation will be then ploughed in to these new tees, paths and fairway before being left to grow in. They will then move on to the 16th hole to build two new fairways, a new back tee and five new bunkers a week or so later, before moving to the 10th to build a new bunker. We would ideally hope to have 3 and 16 ready for Easter 2019, however this will be determined by the weather. The big picture is to open the new areas when they are of a standard that reflects the rest of the golf course.
The final large project to undertake is the construction of a new short game area on the site that used to be the old kid’s course. In the meantime we have been working with UK Power Networks to bury the electricity pole before we can start construction. Many of the trees beside the chipping green are diseased and rotten and therefore dangerous. Most of these have now been removed, with one more to come down after the power line is buried. After the new short game area is constructed the area will be seeded and grown in during the summer of 2019.
We have been working alongside Natural England to improve the environmental characteristics of the south end of the golf course. Before leaving the site, 1st Golf will be extending the ditch at the right hand side of the 1st hole towards the 2nd championship tee before turning left and heading towards Sandown Castle where it will flow out in to a wetland. This will have the same characteristics of the dyke at the 1st with a bund on the far side. The ditch will be out of play and will be of huge ecological value.
The Greenstaff and all contractors will do their upmost to ensure that members, guests and visitors enjoy a full course as often as possible with as little disruption as possible. Come the spring and summer of 2019 we hope to enjoy a much improved golf course with world class practice facilities for all to enjoy.