Campey applies a touch of magic

Campey applies a touch of magic: A renovation from Campey Turf Care Systems has brought a touch of magic to Sutton Upon Derwent Tennis Club’s two grass courts!

The courts have played a prominent role in the club’s history and have been a feature since French Airmen originally founded it in the 1940s. When the club was re-established in 1970, the courts were kept and they are now the only two grass surfaces in the York Tennis League, which is one of the biggest in the United Kingdom.

Campey applies a touch of magic

Campey applies a touch of magic

While the condition of the courts has always been at a usable standard club member and volunteer groundsman, George Hobson, saw the potential in them and took it upon himself to raise the quality. George had no experience of turf maintenance when he started two seasons ago, but along with his work as a magician that has seen him perform at numerous events including for the Aston Martin Racing Team at Le Mans, he has made significant progress with the courts.

“I had no previous experience in groundsmanship, but I seem to be obsessing over grass now,” George began. “I’ve been playing on these courts since I started playing tennis, which is 15-years ago and I knew they could be a lot better, and I wanted to see what I could do.

“I first met Ben Taylor from Campey at Wimbledon’s Grass Court Seminar in August last year, and they had the machinery on the courts there which looked amazing. After meeting Ben, I asked him if he knew of anyone who had a KoroÒ in our area because it would be interesting to see what price they’d charge to help us out. Campey very kindly came back and said they would do a renovation demo day on the tennis courts, so that’s how it started.

“The tennis courts at the club have never really had a renovation so the thatch was like a sponge. The quality of the courts wasn’t there because of that, but the KoroÒ did the job we needed to take the thatch away.

“The courts are fantastic now, and they’ve held up well to the use they’ve had, which is now over two hundred hours. We usually have one hundred members at the club and from those that have played on them we’ve had loads of positive responses. As this was our first-ever complete renovation of the courts, it was a steep learning curve for me. I selected a new grass seed that was a 100% ryegrass as our tennis season runs from the end of April to early September. There’s a lot of wear on the courts, so I hoped this would allow them to stay at their prime for longer. The use of the Vredo seeder and Uni-ScratchÔ prepared the seedbed perfectly to allow for very high germination rates. There’s always going to be a few things that I may have missed from our first renovation, one thing being that the baselines over the years have had different types of loam applied, this led to them panning which doesn’t allow good root growth. There’s always something new I’m learning and discovering which is really helping to expand my knowledge further.

“Doing the renovation and the results of it has attracted a few more members in which is good. The grass courts are in a really prominent position in the village so there’s a lot of traffic going past them and seeing them in such good condition has attracted some of those new members.”

For more information on the KOROÒ FIELDTOPMAKERÒ or how your surface can be improved using Campey machinery contact your local Campey Product Specialist or email info@campeyturfcare.com.

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New approach for Minchinhampton GC

New approach for Minchinhampton GC: Minchinhampton Golf Club’s championship Avening and Cherington courses near the village of Avening in Gloucestershire and The Old Course on National Trust-owned Minchinhampton Common are renowned for their year-round immaculate presentation.

Testament to this is that within just seven years of The Cherington Course opening, the R&A chose it as the south-west venue for its Open Championship Regional Qualifying tournament from 2002 to 2007. The Avening Course has since been chosen to host the same event between 2018 and 2023 (now extended to 2024, since this year’s Open Championship at Royal St Georges was postponed to next year).

New approach for Minchinhampton GC

New approach for Minchinhampton GC

Just one of the 12-strong greenkeeping team led by courses manager Adam Matthews, including workshop manager Will Harris, was furloughed during the coronavirus lockdown, for health reasons. The club decided to keep all the other greens staff working on staggered shifts through the day and into the evening, as much to watch over and protect the courses as to continue maintaining all 54 holes to the highest standard.

This process has also seen the introduction of the club’s first John Deere course maintenance equipment fleet of 10 machines bought from dealer Tallis Amos Group (TAG) at Bibury, near Cirencester, on a five-year John Deere Financial lease deal. The new fleet includes three 2750 E-Cut hybrid electric triplex greens and tees mowers, a 6080A PrecisionCut fairway mower for the approaches and a 7400A TerrainCut rotary mower for the surrounds and roughs, plus three electric TE Gator and two diesel HPX Gator utility vehicles.

“We anticipated that the club would need to reopen at very short notice and so it proved,” says general manager Simon Pope. “On returning we wanted to present the courses to the members in as good a condition as we possibly could, so we aimed to keep the same maintenance schedule all the way through the lockdown and be ready to go from day one.

“As an extra benefit, we usually close each of the championship courses in turn during August and September for annual intensive maintenance programmes, but the good work that was achieved during lockdown means we won’t need to do that now, which our members are delighted about. I have to commend Adam and the whole team for their admirable effort and positive attitude, they have been absolutely brilliant under the circumstances.”

The courses reopened for play on May 13, which coincidentally is Marking Day on Minchinhampton Common. On this day each year around 500 cattle are released on the common for a summer of traditional grazing, and it is part of the greens staff’s responsibility to clean up after them on The Old Course when necessary!

“There was certainly a huge pent-up demand from the members to get back playing – I reckon 1300 people played at least one day within 10 days of re-opening,” adds Simon. “We already had a very strong membership base, with a waiting list last summer, but the lockdown period saw new membership applications shoot up. We have also now expanded the membership offer, so golfers can play 54 holes across the two sites if they wish. This gives members a lot of variety, especially as we are able to run dedicated two-ball and four-ball courses.”

Now 35, Adam Matthews has worked at Minchinhampton Golf Club since he was 16, and became courses manager in January. This coincided with the club coming to the end of its existing five-year fleet deal, and therefore provided a good opportunity for Simon and Adam to review every aspect of the club’s management, including the machinery. After competitive tender quotes from existing and other main suppliers, the pair were impressed by the presentations made by TAG and John Deere.

“TAG’s area sales manager Alex Jones in particular led from the front and it was really his persistence and sound advice that persuaded us to seriously consider using more John Deere equipment than we have done previously,” says Adam. “They put forward a very constructive and consistent proposal, and we had a range of machines in twice on demonstration so the team could really test them properly in our conditions.

“We certainly took our time, it was by no means a sudden decision, and we wanted to be very thorough and fair. It was not just about buying new machinery either, other key factors came into play such as after-sales care, trust in the equipment both in the workshop and out on the course, as well as the finance.

“Ultimately, the high level of customer service was what made us believe that the overall John Deere and dealer package was the way for us to go. All our questions were answered quickly, the selection of machines was tailored precisely to our needs and since the deal’s been completed, Alex Jones and TAG have continued to provide excellent back-up. We realised that this aspect is so important, particularly when you change to a new supplier.”

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La Finca Resort set to re-open

La Finca Resort set to re-open: Luxury Spanish destination, La Finca Resort, is ready to reopen its doors to visitors at the end of this month following a six million Euro renovation project which has seen the golf courses and gastronomic offerings undergo major redevelopments.

The staggering investment has seen the resort enhance its reputation as the go-to destination in Costa Blanca and includes the introduction of three brand-new restaurants and a winery which are all set to open for the first time on July 30.

La Finca Resort set to re-open

La Finca Resort set to re-open

Commenting on the investment, General Manager, Brendan Dwyer, said: “We are very pleased to introduce the latest stage of our ambitious development project which continues to elevate La Finca Resort to the very highest level.

“We’re proud to be a true hub of golf and gastronomy and our latest enhancements help to amplify this further. It is exciting to be able to welcome our guests back this month so that they can experience everything the resort has to offer.”

The venue’s three prestigious golf courses, La Finca, Villamartín and Las Ramblas, have also undergone an extensive enhancement project, including renovation of all the bunkers on La Finca and Villamartín, and the green complexes on all three courses, as well as a restoration of the 16th hole of La Finca.

Complementing this, 40 rooms at the resort’s hotel have been renovated to ‘club level’, which includes a contemporary and sophisticated design, while an array of gastronomic offerings have been introduced to give visitors a true culinary experience.

A new, exclusive hotel bar and terrace, The Hub, will offer guests a leisurely environment in which to relax and dine throughout the day, while the revamped Citrus restaurant will serve the very best in Mediterranean cuisine.

Adding to the dining options, a new Mexican and Italian Fusion restaurant, Frijolino, is set to open in August, followed a few weeks later by the new La Finca Bodega Winery. Ideal for group or individual wine tastings with offerings from the local, national, and international markets, the Bodega will give clients an authentic world-wide wine experience.

Completing the gastronomic investment, La Finca Resort will open its signature paella and brasserie restaurant later this year, providing diners with a true taste of Spain in a luxurious and contemporary setting as part of the new, world class resort.

Another new addition to the resort, the La Finca Sports complex combines sport, nutrition, and well-being. A large training and rehabilitation centre where physical therapy and personal well-being will be practiced, the complex is aimed at both amateur and professional athletes alike. Alongside the new gym complex, a renovation of the tennis and paddle areas will also help to make La Finca Sports Spain´s leading sports resort.

The resort’s reopening comes coincides with La Finca Resort being nominated as Spain´s Leading Sports Resort at the World Travel Awards 2020 and Spain´s Best Golf Hotel at the World Golf Travel Awards 2020 – a duo of accolades which the venue won in 2019.

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Germinal reinforces commitment to forage innovation

Germinal reinforces commitment to forage innovation: Germinal has today announced it is reinforcing its commitment to support British farmers with the appointment of Grace Welling to the new position of Herbage Seed Production and Product Development Officer.

This new role will see Grace offering agronomic advice to UK seed growers to help them maximise high quality herbage seed production. She will also support the company’s on-farm field trials and demonstrations work, for the benefit of all dairy, beef and sheep farmers. Grace will be based at the Germinal Research Station in Wiltshire, working with the company’s existing seed production and research and development teams.

Germinal reinforces commitment to forage innovation

Germinal reinforces commitment to forage innovation

Commenting on Grace’s appointment, Germinal GB Managing Director, Paul Billings, said:

“As specialists in forage, Germinal is always looking to the future. We are driving innovation in herbage seed production so we can deliver new varieties that help British livestock farmers meet the challenges they face. In recent years our new grass and forage varieties have consistently delivered improvements in forage utilisation and environmental performance, driving on-farm efficiency, maximising yields and farmers’ profitability.

“A key part to this is our progressive approach to product development and to sharing knowledge – we trial new varieties on our own research site in Wiltshire and take our learnings to farm to demonstrate best practice. As a fully-qualified herbage seed crop inspector, with a strong family history in herbage seed production, Grace will play a key role in helping us accelerate this science-based R&D activity, ensuring we continue to drive progress in our support for British farmers.”

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KAR UK presents Water Garden UK with sales award

KAR UK presents Water Garden UK with sales award: KAR UK has awarded Water Garden UK with the 2019 top sales award after its impressive distribution of Kasco Marine products.

Water Garden UK is a leading supplier of high-quality water gardening products. As a family run business based in Portsmouth, Hampshire, the company specialises in the very best pond and lake equipment and distributes products throughout the UK. The company is also renowned for its high level of customer service and its technical expertise.

KAR UK presents Water Garden UK with sales award

KAR UK presents Water Garden UK with sales award

Water Garden UK boasts an extensive portfolio of products including the Kasco Marine brand, which are supplied to them by KAR UK – the leading wholesaler of irrigation equipment in the UK.

Kasco Marine is a world-leading manufacturer of lake aeration equipment and decorative fountain technology and the products include sub-surface aerators, de-icers, water mixers, surface aerators and a wide range of stunning floating fountains.

As importers of the Kasco brand, KAR UK has seen a huge increase, year-on-year, in the demand for the products. It is a side of the business which is rapidly growing and just last year KAR UK was awarded the coveted Kasco Top Sales Growth Award.

After seeing a record-breaking year in the distribution of Kasco products, KAR UK has awarded Water Garden UK with the 2019 top sales award.

As part of receiving the award, Water Garden UK can now look forward to a visit to the Kasco headquarters in Wisconsin, USA.

Commenting on the award, Roger Lupton, Regional Sales Manager for KAR UK, said: “We would like to say a huge congratulations to Water Garden UK on their achievement with the sales of Kasco products over the past twelve months. They have once again proved that a company’s success is a joint effort.

“KAR UK has been working closely with Water Garden for the past three years and I would like to thank each and every one of the team for their hard work.

“I look forward to celebrating with them when we visit the Kasco facility in the States.”

For more information, please visit www.karuk.com.

You can also follow KAR UK on Twitter @KARUK_LTD for much more news, reviews and insightful views.

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Grounds management is vital if we are to get back to play

Grounds management is vital if we are to get back to play: 2020 will undoubtedly go down in history as the season of no sport. With tournaments cancelled, a nationwide ban on sport, and lockdown meaning everyone has ‘stayed at home’, the turf industry and those within it have been seriously impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

As of this month, Project Restart is beginning to unlock sport at a professional level, and with calls for sport to return as soon as it’s safe to do so, Covid-19 has reminded us how intrinsic these games – and the pitches they’re played on – are to our nation and communities.

Grounds management is vital if we are to get back to play

Grounds management is vital if we are to get back to play

Despite the important role sport plays at all levels, we are facing a crisis at its very foundation. GMA’s new report and research, Back to Play, has shown that a lack of investment and appreciation for local grass pitches, and those that maintain them, could significantly limit play once sport resumes.

Saving the grassroots game

Many of our favourite sports are heavily dependent on our natural turf pitches, and those that maintain them. But there is potential for a steady decline in both the quality and the number of pitches available. As local authority budgets are tightened and resources are stripped back or limited, we’ll undoubtedly see this accelerated by the pandemic.

In England today, we have around 56,891 rugby union and league, football, and cricket pitches – one pitch for every 984 people. Many of these pitches have been overplayed due to rising demand, resulting in a steady deterioration of existing grounds.

Demand will also likely increase, as access to sports will be crucial to our recovery. We’ve been unable to play, which will have impacted on our physical and mental wellbeing. Our grounds staff will therefore have to manage even more demand, while continuing to create a safe playing environment.

If this trend continues, the number of rugby, cricket and football matches played will be reduced over the next decade. Our report has suggested a fifth of people who play rugby and football will be unable to play every week, and more than half of people who play cricket will see matches reduced, without urgent action.

The ‘new normal’

The Government has announced a return to professional sports (without the fans), and much has been mentioned about the players and staff, whose safety is paramount. However, what isn’t discussed is the restrictions, and the direct impact they will have on the groundstaff teams. Teams will be expected to maintain pre-pandemic standards, with less resources, less budget and with safety protocols restricting what can and cannot be done.

All these aspects will change the nature of working practices. Grounds staff have proven themselves to be an essential service for our sports, seamlessly producing playing surfaces as teams returned to training.

Commercially-driven clubs, who will be desperate to recoup lost revenue as a result of the pandemic, must support the grounds teams in the coming weeks, months, and years.

It’s likely that grounds staff will be asked to produce ‘fit for play’ surfaces with quick turnaround, in a concentrated period – not to mention winter sports playing through summer and summer sports extending into winter months.

We’ve witnessed flooded February, a pandemic, and the driest May on record, so further unexpected weather may well exaserbate the challenges that lie ahead.

For many clubs at all levels, surviving will be challenging. Clubs need support, and while sports bodies have been quick to establish funding, they themselves have been impacted by the pandemic. Sport is part of the fabric of our society, yet our grassroots infrastructure has suffered from decades of under-investment and a lack of focus. While we await the return of recreational sport, when the green light is given, volunteers will be vital in producing playable pitches.

Making more sport possible

With proper investment in our sector, we know the decline can be averted, and sport can continue.

While there are pitch improvement programmes, including the successful ‘Grounds & Natural Turf Investment Programme’ (GaNTIP), more must be done.

If we improved existing grass pitches, almost 1.4 million more children could play rugby or football every week and 489,859 more could play cricket every season. By investing more in grass pitches, those that maintain them, and influencing a new generation of skilled grounds staff, we can reverse this trend, improve our grass pitches, and enable sport to continue.

Getting involved

With our Back to Play campaign, we’re calling for people to join the sector, both as volunteers and professionals, and more resources to improve access to community-level sport.

Our sector is facing a recruitment crisis, and with only 19% of children currently considering a job in grounds management, we must work together as an industry to address this. We know people in our industry love what they do. Over 90% of those working in the sector are satisfied or very satisfied with their job, highlighting high levels of job satisfaction.

We’ve also seen hundreds of thousands of people volunteering to help out in their community, be that through signing up to support the NHS, or helping out an elderly neighbour. It’s vital that this spirit continues once sport resumes.

Matches and training cannot take place without a suitable playing surface. Clubs need great pitches, and they need grounds staff and volunteers to make that possible.

It’s imperative that more sportloving young people enter the profession, creating a new generation of passionate and dedicated grounds managers, and that more volunteers look to support local pitches, even just for a couple of hours a month.

As turf professionals, it’s our job to inspire this younger generation, as well as potential volunteers of all ages, to join us, and work with the wider sporting industry to highlight the important role that grounds staff play. Sport is a cornerstone in our communities, our identities and our lives and we must ensure sport is possible for everyone, wherever and whoever they are.