PM36 serves up competition-ready courts

PM36 serves up competition-ready courts: As a sole Groundsman, Robin Wilcox has his work cut out looking after the 19 courts and 5 croquet lawns that make up East Dorset Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (EDLTCC).

On the sites nine grass courts, DLF’s ProMaster 36, and its tolerance of low cutting heights, has given Robin the advantage – freeing up time for the other tasks which keep the courts and lawns competition ready.

PM36 serves up competition-ready courts

PM36 serves up competition-ready courts

One of Robin’s key goals when he joined EDLTCC two years ago was to bring the grass courts up to standard required to be selected, once again, as a host for the qualifying stages of The County Cup. “Over the years the courts had accumulated layers of thatch, so we could have gone down the road of scarifying and adding additional loam, but we decided to go for a full renovation.” During his first year at the club, Robin skimmed off the top layer, cultivated, levelled and seeded with Masterline PM36 perennial ryegrass mix.

“A great combination of warmth and rain in the late summer/early autumn of 2018 meant the courts were green in under three weeks and I carried out the first cut at six weeks – everybody at the club was amazed at the germination. Our artificial and clay courts took the strain while the grass courts were under renovation but when they re-opened for play in 2019, there was a new wave of members wanting to play on the grass and they coped, and recovered, from the high levels of wear very well.”

The decision to go for a pure-rye mix gives Robin the playing and resistance characteristics he requires, even under close mown conditions. “Because of my workload, I have to split my time between the artificial courts, grass courts and lawns so this means I am limited to mowing just twice a week. With the PM36 mix, it is hardy enough to cope with going as low as 5mm without any detrimental impact on turf quality.”

While a final decision by the LTA is expected at the end of May, at the time of writing the County Cup remains in the tournament calendar and the improvements Robin has achieved sees EDLTCC chosen as a host venue, after a few years absence. “It’s fantastic news for the club.” Robin concludes, “Everybody is delighted with the results of the renovations – the PM36 has delivered great quality courts fit for top level play once again.”

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Japanese excellence at Whitefield GC

Japanese excellence at Whitefield GC: Whitefield Golf Club, one of the longest established golf courses in the North West have invested in a brand-new fleet of machinery with a retail value in excess of £250,000 to futureproof the club.

The prestigious 18-hole mature golf course, which boasts superb putting surfaces, undulating, partly tree-lined fairways and spectacular views is also renowned for its par 3 and has a reputation as being deceptively difficult, with golfers coming from miles around to take on the challenge.

Japanese excellence at Whitefield GC

Japanese excellence at Whitefield GC

The club’s ageing fleet had started to become an issue, failing to deliver the standard required and with a prestigious tournament booked for this summer, the team realised that a sizeable investment in an entirely new fleet was required.

Course Manager Danny Chamberlain called upon award winning fine-turf specialist supplier GGM Groundscare. Several considerations had to be taken into account when selecting the best machinery for the job, with reliability and productivity of equipment being key. In addition, being based in the North West of England, it was key for the machinery to perform well in all-weather conditions. The club trialled a range of products from leading manufacturers Baroness and Kubota and the Greens team instantly saw the great results, with the machines staying on cut for longer and giving a precise finish, which is so important for maintaining the image of the course”

Danny was particularly impressed with the results from the Baroness LM2700 Fairway Mower, which  delivers a high work rate while delivering exceptional quality of cut, low whole life service costs and also long life and the Baroness GM2810 Rough Mower, renowned for its fast speed when cutting extensive areas of fast growing  rough, the design of the decks allows cleaner discharge of grass giving a high quality stripped finish.

“It’s the simplicity that I love – not only will it reduce downtime, maintenance and service costs – the Baroness is far easier and safer for the team to use and gives a truly outstanding quality of cut”

Additionally, the Kubota L2501 tractor, RTV X900 Utility vehicle and ZD1211 Zero turn mower are all excellent machines and provide the club with the quality and efficient solutions that it needs. The Baroness and Kubota products work so well together and gives the ideal package to golf clubs.

It was this, along with the reliability and output of all the machines the club trialled and the fixed-cost service and support package that was available that were key factors for Danny. It allows the club to budget better and gave the team peace of mind that they won’t be receiving unexpected repair bills that gave him the confidence to place an order to replace the full fleet.

“It was a huge step for the club to move away from the previous manufacturer, and particularly when it came to making an investment of this size however, GGM Groundscare made the process so easy. Working with the right dealership is essential – after all, they become an extension of your own team. Service levels, parts back up and sales advice are all absolutely crucial. It’s fantastic to know that we’re heading into the future with the very best fleet for our club.”

Chris Gibson, Managing Director at GGM Groundscare said:

“We are absolutely delighted to supply this fleet of machinery to Whitefield Golf Club. It is well known as one of the most prestigious courses in the North West with a reputation for pristine greens, and we are thrilled to play a part in the maintenance of them. It really is Japanese excellence working together with Kubota and Baroness as there are no better machines for golf clubs to use to maintain one of their biggest assets – their course”.

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Soluble strategy from Headland Amenity

Soluble strategy from Headland Amenity: A switch to a liquid feeding programme has paid dividends on the fairways at Canons Brook Golf Club. Having fallen victim to the drought of summer 2018, the fairway recovery was boosted by a new liquid regime formulated by Headland Amenity.

A tank-mix consisting of XTEND®, Elevate Fe® and Clipless NT® applied throughout 2019 has helped to encourage and maintain strong, healthy coverage as the new season approaches.

Soluble strategy from Headland Amenity

Soluble strategy from Headland Amenity

When Course Manager Damien Bowe joined Canons Brook in Harlow back in 2016, there was no nutritional programme in place for the fairways. “I quickly introduced a conventional granular programme, which we applied in April and again in September. In 2018 the hot weather hit us hard and we lost a lot of coverage but we went ahead with the granular application in April as normal which, combined with some good rainfall, stimulated good recovery and strong growth.”

To sustain the recovery and coverage achieved, Damien together with his Headland Regional Technical Manager, Peter Blackaby, formulated a liquid programme to ‘spoon-feed’ the fairways throughout the growing season, rather than merely aim to strengthen them before winter. They applied XTEND® 21-0-0 at 30L/hectare, Elevate Fe® at 20L/hectare and Clipless NT® at 1.5L/hectare every 4 weeks between June and September. “We used a low rate of Clipless NT® to keep on top of any flushes. This helped to thicken up the sward, giving us nice, controlled growth and healthy, dense fairways.”

“We also applied Headland’s TriCure AD™ separately at 2.5L/hectare, and achieved fantastic results with that, particularly in those areas that were stressed the most from the previous summer. We put this down ahead of any forecasted rainfall and it helped to hold onto any rain we got and kept the plant nice and strong. As an added bonus, it also kickstarted the germination of seed we had applied earlier in the year, in some areas of the course that hadn’t seen any growth in months.”

Despite the almost non-stop rainfall Canons Brook have seen since September, the Headland programme has ensured the fairways have emerged into 2020 strong and ready for play.

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GrasPro vital at Forest Green

GrasPro vital at Forest Green: GrasPro Pitch Management System has become a vital data collection tool for Forest Green Rovers head groundsman, Adam Witchell.

Adam is into his fourth season with the League Two football club, and he has used GrasPro throughout that time to record data from the club’s stadium pitch and training pitch. The system has helped him save time recording data and generating reports, allowing him to concentrate on doing the work that is needed.

GrasPro vital at Forest Green

GrasPro vital at Forest Green

“I think it’s wonderful, it’s one of my main tools as a head groundsman, and I use it to manage a different site as well, I find it one of the most beneficial things I have,” Adam began. “When I first went to Forest Green Rovers, it was one of the first things that I got because I needed a data management plan.

“I’ve trialled other data collection systems and for me this is the best one. I was looking for a management system, and I was trialling a few, but really it was the ease of use because some data collection systems can take a while. It takes away data recording in the evening because it doesn’t take long to put it into the GrasPro system, so it saves me time and energy that I can concentrate on other parts of my job.

“I use it for all of my monthly reviews and daily and weekly plans. And I can look back on things that worked and didn’t work by doing PQS’s on the pitch. For me, it’s massively helpful to be able to do that. I think I’m the only person in the world working with an organic vegan pitch and it’s very a difficult pitch. It’s a very heavy clay pitch, it has its problems, but with the weather that’s added to it, you can look at when disease might be in and then you can look at how the pitch performs with some of the products you’ve used and how it’s performed in the games in that month.

“And then at other times when it might not be performing as well you can look back and think ‘ah, I didn’t do that when I’ve done that before.’ Also, when we’ve had disease, I can record the humidity, the temperature and things like that to so I can see if disease is coming. With the weather we’ve had, I can think I need to start using this product or feeding it a certain way because disease will be rife soon.

“Another part of it was getting to speak to Einar Brynjarsson at GrasPro. We were looking at how we could improve the system for the future, and how it would best work with the systems I use already, which was very good and very detailed.

Working closely with Einar means if there are bits that aren’t in the system, then I can contact him. We’ve spoken about machinery because it didn’t have that before and I said I needed something for it. Now I can record the hours every month, and I can see when the next service is, when it’s due an oil change or maybe it’s time for machines to be ground or start looking at how the batteries are doing.

“There wasn’t anything like that initially, and it was something I felt like I wanted, I discussed it with them, and they’ve come up with an excellent machinery section of the system which takes a lot of headache away. I have a lot of plate spinning in my job, and it’s something that I don’t have to worry about now, I don’t need to keep checking if it’s time for this to be serviced or putting lots of bits of paper down or notes all around my whiteboard.”

GrasPro has been built by groundsmen for groundsmen. It has been developed as a time effective tool to help speed up data collection and allow users to quickly use and analyse data from their surfaces and machines to make informed statistical decisions.

For a free demonstration of the GrasPro Pitch Management System, visit https://www.gras.pro.

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Milestone for golf in the Netherlands

Milestone for golf in the Netherlands: At the Sportive Connect conference on Thursday 23 January in Amsterdam, the Dutch sports sector made an important step in its contribution to the climate agreement by signing the Sustainable Sports Roadmap.

The conference also recognised a milestone in the field of sustainable sport – one hundred golf clubs in the Netherlands have achieved the GEO Certified® distinction. One of the signatories on this agreement is Netherlands Golf Federation Director, Jeroen Stevens.

Milestone for golf in the Netherlands

Golfclub Meerssen in the spotlight

Gerard Dielessen, General Director of the Dutch Olympic Committee and Dutch Sport (NOC * NSF), pointed out that Dutch Golf placed sustainability high on its agenda a long time ago and the sport has already achieved a significant amount as a leader in the field.

Dutch golf’s achievement was celebrated at the congress with the presentation of the GEO Certification to the one hundredth club, Golfclub Meerssen.

Commenting on the announcement, Jonathan Smith, Executive Director, GEO Foundation said: “GEO Foundation is proud to support sustainable golf in the Netherlands in its strategy and delivery of credible, measurable results. The NGF’s vision in creating the future they wanted for the sport is an important example of voluntary leadership.”

“Sustainability because we want to”

In one of the information sessions at the congress, NGF director Jeroen Stevens elaborated on the sustainability of golf through OnCourse Netherlands, the program that golf clubs use on their way to become GEO Certified. Stevens highlighted the shift in golf from “sustainability because we have to” to “sustainability because we want to”. He pointed out that this is also expected by society: research shows that the need for sustainable thinking and doing increases with each generation.

Stevens also underlined the many benefits and opportunities that sustainable management offers. “In 2009, as a volunteer on the golf club’s course committee, I was faced with sustainability for the first time and I have since learned that sustainable management provides a better golf course at lower costs,” he said.

Don’t wait until everyone is ready

Stevens believes that all sports would benefit from the OnCourse Netherlands/GEO programme used by golf. “GEO is about awareness of sustainability and measurement. You have to measure to know what you are doing. GEO is also about community, because that is also sustainability. And I recommend that you just start making your sport more sustainable and not wait until everyone is ready,” he said.

The Netherlands now has more GEO Certified® golf facilities than any other country in the world and has plans for even more to achieve golf’s sustainability distinction in the coming years, benefitting the clubs individually and the sport collectively.

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Ecobunker enables Sandbelt style bunkers

Ecobunker enables Sandbelt style bunkers: The famous courses of the Melbourne Sandbelt, notably Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath, are distinctive for many reasons, but one of the most important is the characteristic bunker style created by Dr Alister MacKenzie and his collaborators Alex Russell and Mick Morcom. 

Sandbelt bunkers are characterised by their size, by their swooping shape, with capes and bays dividing them up into different compartments, by their flashed sand faces, and by the fact that they cut so deeply into fairways and greens – and are typically presented with short grass – fairway or even green cut – right up to the edge of the bunker, with no collar of longer grass that can interfere with the architect’s desired short game playability, and create visual interference in an otherwise extremely ‘clean’ look.

Ecobunker enables Sandbelt style bunkers

That look has been enormously influential around the world of golf. Gil Hanse’s Olympic course in Rio de Janerio and Tiger Woods’ first American design, Bluejack National in Texas, are only two in a long list of courses said by their designers to be influenced by the Sandbelt look. But replicating those trademark Melburnian bunkers is hard. The soil on the Melbourne courses, though sandy, contains a lot of fine particles and grey organic matter that mean it binds together to create a hard surface. Coarser sand – and even more so, clay soil – does not bind the same way, and creating that hard, vertical lip so characteristic of Melbourne is basically impossible; the soil gets wet and crumbles away.

The recent President’s Cup at Royal Melbourne showed very well how the Sandbelt bunkers work. As well as the clean edge, the sand packs down so hard that Melbourne clubs do not rake their bunker faces, rather using a ‘flat rake’ to create extremely firm conditions on the bunker faces, ensuring that all balls that enter the bunker run down to the prepared base, removing the problem of plugged lies.

So Sandbelt bunkers are desirable, but they depend completely on the particular conditions on the Sandbelt to make them possible. Sydney-based golf architect Harley Kruse has found a way round this problem. At Killara Golf Club, in the northern suburbs of Sydney, a successful 1800 member club whose golf course was basically untouched since the 1960s, Kruse was hired to do a significant course renovation. After careful planning, the works were agreed: reconstruction of all eighteen green complexes, reversing two holes, rebuilding some fairway bunkers and eliminating one par three while bringing a spare hole into the normal rotation.

“Greens were suffering; the rootzone wasn’t good and they were all poa,” Kruse says. “They were small, averaging 370 sq, and basically flat, with very limited strategic value. We have increased them to an average size of 500-550 sq m, with lots more interest; we’ve also taken out 300 big trees and opened up the vistas.”

Kruse and the club wanted sandbelt-inspired bunkers, but the clay soil at Killara meant that was going to be difficult. However, they found a solution via a good friend, Rod Hinwood, course manager at the exclusive Ellerston GC in rural New South Wales. Hinwood demonstrated the successful results that EcoBunker was delivering on his pronounced bunker edges, which had previously been vulnerable to erosion. “It occurred to me that we might be able to do something similar at Killara, and thus be able to get the edging treatment that we wanted,” said Kruse.

The new bunkers are lined with Capillary Concrete, and feature a 40cm high lip constructed using EcoBunker Advanced patented synthetic bunker edging system. The sand is then flashed up the EcoBunker wall – and is held in place by the Capillary Concrete – and the bunker surrounds can be mowed short right to the edge, because of the strength the EcoBunker and Capillary Concrete underpinnings provide.

“EcoBunker was designed from the outset to give architects the maximum freedom to create the bunker shapes they wanted,” says EcoBunker inventor and CEO Richard Allen. “The work that Harley has done at Killara is a classic example of that. When I first went to Melbourne last year, the principal reason was to see the Sandbelt bunkers up close; the fact that our product has allowed a great architect to create similar bunkers on unsuitable soil is fantastic. This style of bunker has long been something of a ‘holy grail’ for a lot of golf courses that simply haven’t been able to implement it because of their soil conditions. Now, they can see a proven solution that will allow them to do so.”

“If we had tried to do that edge using the site soils, it would crumble away,” says Kruse. “Getting that stable lip in clay soils is very difficult to achieve. But EcoBunker allows us to do it.”

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KAR raises tempo at Bromley

KAR raises tempo at Bromley: Bromley FC’s players and staff have reported a huge improvement in their synthetic pitch after a Hunter Industries irrigation system from KAR UK was installed at the stadium.

Bromley FC is currently plying its trade in the Vanarama National League and plays its home games at Hayes Lane Stadium – which, over recent years, has undergone a significant transformation.

KAR raises tempo at Bromley

The stadium investment saw the construction of a new South Stand which has allowed for an additional 1,450 seats, and two years ago an all new FIFA certified synthetic pitch was installed.

Bromley FC’s First Team Coach Alan Dunne provided the reasoning behind the club’s switch from natural to synthetic turf.

“In winter, our natural pitch would often be in a bad condition and games would have to be called off, which would have a huge impact on revenue,” he said. “Even when the games were on, the pitch could be waterlogged, it would slow down our play which would then cause further damage. It is for this reason that we decided to have a synthetic surface installed because it offers all-year round play as well as providing the club a constant stream of revenue by renting it out for the local community.

“We are a hugely ambitious club and we are doing everything possible to make sure that we continue to progress up the football leagues.”

The new pitch was soon installed and opened up to the wider community, and even though the extra revenue would help the club compete in terms of transfer fees and player wages it became apparent that something was missing.

“It’s a great pitch,” said Bromley FC’s Director Jerry Dolke. “However, over the past 24 months we had an increasing amount of comments from players who were claiming that the rubber crumb, which is used as the infill in the synthetic surface, was uncomfortable to play on. During hot weather we were not playing at the same fast tempo we like to play, so we identified that we urgently needed to start getting water on to the pitch.

“Ultimately, we want to give this group of players all of the tools and equipment to be successful and therefore after a consultation with Ian Jordan from Jordan Sports Ground Solutions who look after our pitch, an irrigation system became a priority.”

KAR raises tempo at Bromley

It was at this point that a Hunter ST1600 irrigation system would be the ideal solution.

The Hunter ST irrigation system is designed for the specific needs of synthetic turf sports pitches. Featuring long-range irrigation sprinklers, unique swing joints, durable irrigation valves and nearly indestructible vaults, Hunter’s ST system offers everything required to keep synthetic turf pitches cool, clean and playable. The enhanced radius rotors are perfect for football pitches, where smaller radius rotors might fall a little short – meaning that every inch of the pitch can be watered.

The system, which also comprises of an ICC2 controller and an EZ decoder system, sees the ST1600 rotors installed in six positions around the pitch – one on each of the four corner areas and one either side of the halfway line.

“It’s made a huge difference to the way we play – we like to play quick football and when the pitch is watered we have that effect,” said Alan. “We now water before the game and at half-time and it sees us through nicely. The system is so quick and simple and it takes just eight minutes to have the whole pitch watered.”

“We needed a system that was going to work efficiently on our pitch and within our budget,” added Jerry. “We now have that in place and all of those previous problems have disappeared. We had a very short timescale to work to because our first pre-season game was on the 6th July so we had a five-week window to get the project completed. The contractors met the deadline and we are all very happy with the end result.

“The irrigation system is just another step in the right direction as we try and push on to that next level.”

Hunter Industries is distributed in the UK by KAR UK. For more information, please visit www.karuk.com or www.hunterindustries.com.

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

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EcoBunker at unique ‘golf lounge’

EcoBunker at unique ‘golf lounge’: One of the most unusual and innovative golf projects in the world is taking shape in Mexico City, and EcoBunker technology is playing a critical role.

Architect Agustin Piza was commissioned by his client, a leading Mexican executive, to build a golf practice facility in the grounds of the client’s under construction new house. “I think my client had a regular putting and chipping green in mind, but I don’t do regular things,” says Piza.

EcoBunker at unique 'golf lounge'

The architect conceived something he calls the ‘Golf Lounge’, a large, freeform putting green and surrounds that enables users to practice any golf shot they like from up to 70 yards. At the centre of the construction is a large revetted sand bunker, which is where the EcoBunker solution is deployed. And, in the heart of that bunker is to be found the centrepiece of the whole ‘Golf Lounge’ concept – a fire pit.

“The central bunker is key to the entire composition,” says Piza. “During the day you can practice all types of shots from 70 yards in. Flops, bump and runs, lag putts. Anything you want to create, it’s there. It is a multi-purpose area – during the day the family can enjoy either practicing golf or playing in the sandbox. In the evenings, you turn on the music, turn on the lights, turn on the firepit and relax. You can still putt around it, have a putting contest, whatever you like. I knew I needed the central sandpit to be revetted. I did my research and with the evidence available to me EcoBunker is the most proven system in the world for constructing revetted bunkers, especially in climates like Mexico City’s. I spoke to Richard Allen, the inventor of synthetic revetting, who I had met several times at EIGCA functions and said ‘Send me your best installer’. He sent me Llewelyn Matthews who did a fantastic job.”

Piza says that this job, because it is in a domestic environment, was rather different to most architectural projects. “The safe rule in architecture is that form follows function, but in this case I wanted the function to follow the form. This meant extra detail to creative and engineering work,” he explains. ”I wanted the client and his family to fall in love with it just by seeing it through the windows of their home, whether or not they were golfers. So I conceived it as a kind of ‘grass sculpture’ that would be both beautiful to look at and functional. If it is just a golf facility, it is a waste of space to anyone who doesn’t play golf. This way, it is something for the entire family to enjoy.”

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Campey coats for Kidsgrove Athletic

Campey coats for Kidsgrove Athletic: Campey Turf Care Systems has helped keep Kidsgrove Athletic Blues U8’s warm over winter as the team’s new coat sponsor.

The company has been a long-time supporter of grassroots sport and aims to help clubs at every level provide pitches that encourage participation in football. While the surfaces played on are usually the priority, Campey also knows that it’s not as fun to play when you’re freezing cold, as does the team’s assistant manager, Matt Davies.

Campey coats for Kidsgrove Athletic

“Living in England it does get cold in the winter, so having these nice big coats is great for the boys,” Matt began. “The lads like them, and it keeps them warm, which is the main thing. At this age, it’s all about the players having fun and developing and anything that can contribute to that, like keeping warm, is important. They’re all really enjoying their football, and as a team, they have improved massively over the last year.

“It can be difficult to get sponsors because we need it for different things like balls, etc., so it’s great that Campey has got involved. The parents all pay a monthly fee for subs, training and pitch hire, so having a sponsor makes it that bit less expensive for everyone.”

The team currently play in a development league which sees each side categorised as they progress through the season, ensuring that games remain competitive and enjoyable. This season, Kidsgrove’s improvement has seen them placed into the top tier with the impressive young team also playing a friendly against Stoke City FC U7’s.

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Huxley tees proving a return on investment

Huxley tees proving a return on investment: World leading golf surface experts, Huxley Golf, has completed a major installation of 27 all-weather tees at Poult Wood, one of the finest pay and play golf courses in the South of England. With this installation the facility will stay open for the enjoyment of resident and visiting golfers throughout the coming winter months.

Set in picturesque woodland near Tonbridge in Kent, Poult Wood offers a choice of two interesting and challenging courses for regular and casual golfers. It is run by the Tonbridge & Malling Leisure Trust, a not-for-profit organisation responsible for the delivery of sport and leisure facilities for Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council. As such, the course must be affordable, high quality and accessible to all members of the community.

Huxley tees proving a return on investment

Darren Lanes, Head of Leisure at Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council, explains: “Our vision, in partnership with Tonbridge & Malling Leisure Trust, is simple: ‘more people, more active, more often’ and we’re delivering this through the provision of a wide range of facilities which enable participation in activities that promote physical and mental wellbeing. Consistency is incredibly important but this is naturally harder to achieve when it comes to enabling outdoor leisure pursuits given the vagaries of the British weather.

“This is why we have invested in renewing our all-weather tees at Poult Wood Golf Course. These winter tees have proven to deliver excellent value for money through operational resilience and an uninterrupted year-round revenue stream which we can reinvest in, extending our efforts for the whole community’s benefit.”

Huxley Golf used its Premier Tee Turf 2 across both the 9- and 18- hole courses. Each tee measures 12ft x 12ft (3.66m x 3.66m).

Poult Wood Head Greenkeeper, Stuart Crowley, said: “It’s safe to say that the Huxley Golf winter tees have been a real return on investment.

“We first installed all-weather tees with Huxley Golf twenty years ago and we’ve never looked back. With virtually no maintenance requirement, the use of these winter tees not only delights our customers, but it also frees my team up to ensure that the remainder of the course remains playable in increasingly challenging seasonal conditions. We renewed the tees after ten years in 2010 and we’ve just done so again, such is their considerable contribution to our well-regarded course.”

For more information about winter golf surfaces, call 01730 829608 or visit www.huxleygolf.com.

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