Tag Archive for: Ladybank

Wiedenmann duo assists Ladybank GC

Wiedenmann duo assists Ladybank GC: In a corner of the UK where there are many remarkable golf courses, Fife’s Ladybank Golf Club, sets the bar high. Designed by Old Tom Morris in 1879, and venue for final qualifying for The Senior Open in 2018, Ladybank, has quintessential charm.

Grant Frogley, who joined as Course Manager in August 2021, is conscious of a responsibility to manage golf and the native flora and fauna in harmony across the site.

Wiedenmann duo assists Ladybank GC

Wiedenmann duo assists Ladybank GC

“We are a true heathland course. I consider this our USP, especially in Fife. Golf must be sensitive to the habitat. Take the red squirrel on our club badge, for example. It might be in decline nationally, but it thrives here. Our woodland policy will naturally promote pines and silver birch, trees the red squirrel favours. Our work is to tie all these strands together.

One of Grant’s first major projects is a programme of heather regeneration, requiring a three-to-four-year timeline to invigorate existing plantations and establish new growth.

“Heather is very much ‘in play’ at Ladybank; it’s a feature of the golf course which claims many golf balls,” explained Grant. “It predominantly lines the fringes of the fairways on many holes. The acreage of existing areas isn’t known, so part of our new process will be to measure so we can benchmark it year-on-year to chart its increase.

“Not long after I arrived, I ordered a 2.3 m Wiedenmann Terra Rake from Mike Lindsay, Area Sales Manager at Fairways GM. It partners the Wiedenmann Super 500, which I was pleased to inherit. These are my machines of choice for heather management. Previously as Course Manager at the Roxburghe I purchased a Super 600, so was familiar with that machine, but the Terra Rake is invaluable.

“Much of our heather is in a mature state. Plants are 25-30 years old, not at the degenerative stage but now is the perfect time to act. Unattended heather can become too old for intervention, the canopy begins to open and invasive species, like gorse and broom, appear.”

Already Grant, and his team of seven, have conducted a host of separate operations.

Heather seed is traditionally collected from the end of October, once heather flowers have faded. Conventionally, rogue grasses that stand taller than the heather plants are removed from the plot where the seed is gathered. The Super 500 fitted with flail blades then cuts and collects the heather pods, or brash. The valuable brash is respread on existing or new areas.

“In other places we are topping it off and continue to collect more seed. Cutting heather back is an important part of our plan. It means we will return it to that ‘building stage’ of its growth cycle; so next season, it remains youthful, and when it flowers, we would hope to see it with a better, more vibrant colour.

“We have also gone into several of the fringe sections of the fairways, and only partially topped them off. We’re mindful that heather plants at varying life stages creates a more consistent habitat for wildlife.

“At edges of the fairways within the playing corridors, places where we don’t want to strip the vegetation, the Terra Rake is the perfect tool for raking and scratching the surface to break the canopy, to expose the existing seed beds without us losing the vegetation.

“Next stage is looking at and preparing areas where we can respread that seed. We have some techniques up our sleeve which include the Terra Rake, but heather management will always be a continuous cycle.

“Still on the theme of promoting the habitat, we are introducing some wildflower areas which will prosper while our heather flourishes. Similarly, our programme of good woodland management will also get underway. These are all great projects to start in my first six months here,” explained Grant.

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Standards Maintained at Ladybank

Standards Maintained at Ladybank: Designed originally by Old Tom Morris, Ladybank Golf Club is a rare thing in Fife, enjoying as it does a reputation as one of the finest inland layouts based in Scotland and providing a classic heathland challenge to golf lovers away from the sea.

Recently ranked #2 in Great Britain’s Top 100 Courses under £100 by National Club Golfer magazine, Ladybank is established on the Fife Open Championship Qualifying Trail, and has hosted final qualifying on seven occasions since 1978 for the Open Championship played at St Andrews. It was also a qualifying venue in July for this year’s Senior Open Championship on the Old Course.

Standards Maintained at Ladybank

Managing secretary Gordon Simpson joined the club over two years ago and carried out a comprehensive assessment of the whole club and course set-up. He knew the course and its quality from playing regularly in qualifying tournaments as a PGA professional, and immediately recognised that the combination of an ageing machinery fleet and increasing repair bills meant a replacement policy needed to be implemented.

Gordon therefore asked the six-strong greenkeeping team led by course manager Colin Powrie and head greenkeeper David Gray to put together a wish list of new machinery from scratch, that would help them to maintain the golf course to the required high standard. As a result, the club has made its first ever John Deere fleet purchase, with equipment supplied by John Deere dealer Double A of Cupar in Fife.

The new machines include a 7500A fairway mower with TechControl display and smaller QA5 cutting units, a 4049R compact tractor, a Pro Gator utility vehicle equipped with an HD200 low-profile amenity turf sprayer and two 220SL walk-behind greens mowers.

“We conducted the usual tender process and gave the different manufacturers a list of the priority kit we required to replace the older machines,” says Gordon. “Double A and the dealership’s golf specialist John Bateson were superb throughout the process, both in supplying demonstration machines throughout 2017 and in their overall level of service, support and advice to help us develop the golf course in the way we wished.

“The process was admittedly a lengthy one but the ongoing feedback we had from the membership was invaluable to me in the decision-making process, particularly with regard to the high levels of presentation and finish right across the course. This ultimately showed us that the quality of cut from the John Deere machines was far superior and sharper looking.”

“We have quite undulating fairways, so the smaller QA5 cutting units on the fairway mower suit our terrain very well by getting easily into the dips and hollows,” adds Colin Powrie. “The new hand mowers are used on the 1st and 18th tees and the collars, so these are now nicely striped up for better presentation.”

Gordon Simpson admits John Deere would not have been his original number one choice, having never done a deal with the company before in his previous roles. However, he is now happy to state that everything the club experienced over the 20-month process of choosing a new supplier proved that he wanted to partner with John Deere as a brand and Double A as a local business.

“With the volume of kit that had to be replaced, it was always the case that the club would need to spread the investment over several years to make it more manageable,” says Gordon. “With all the work they put into the tender, John Deere and Double A simply stood out a mile, and we knew this was the manufacturer and dealer we wanted to partner with.

“We were looking for a long-term relationship with our supplier, which is why it took us so long to make the decision, but we certainly feel that we’ve picked the right route for us and our ambitions for the club.”

For more information, visit: www.JohnDeere.co.uk

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