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Course News

The greens are progressing well after the last sand graden works, the advice is to tine and dress for the rest of August before looking at additional applications. 

We were delighted that our proposal to purchase a new Verti Drainer was backed by the treasurer and rubber stamped by committee on Monday evening. 
This is a £25k piece of kit which will push the course and greens to another level, the operation of verti draining has been carried out previously on greens by a contractor once a year. This is simply not enough as we strive to keep progressing, aswell as greens the tees, fairways, surrounds, approaches and walk off areas will also be able to be vert drained. 

Where does the money come from? Well part of the settlement in the NWA works will be used with the balance of approx £9k coming from increased green fee income anticipated this year from visitors. 
We understand that there has been a level of inconvenience for members at times but we appreciate your patience not only with visiting parties but also the additional works carried out on the greens during the season. 
The business case is solid as we have budgeted to spend £5k per year with a contractor each year finance permitting. 

We have had some extremely constructive observations from members with regards to visiting parties which will be considered when planning for next years calendar. In hindsight there have been at least two large clangers made with the fixture list which will not be repeated next season............ Having a visiting party on the same day of a 'Mixed Club Comp'....... A party on the day after Club Championship when many members may not of played in CC.......

Your comments and feedback is always taken on board as we strive to gain the balance. With regards to this year we can draw comfort in the fact that we have a new piece of kit which will undoubtedly improve the course over the winter and into next season and beyond.
Created: 18-Aug-17 12:56

Snooker Room Refurbishment

With only a few finishing bits of paint work required the 'snooker room' is now ready to show all the big sporting events. With Newcastle playing live the next two Sundays we are sure the members will enjoy this new facility.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the people who made this possible..... Mr Jim Screen, Mr Bill Johnson and Mr Peter Smith

During the process of upheaval on the course during the flood defence work a considerable amount of time was spent by the above mentioned members on the clubs behalf. Although they did not charge the club for the time spent on the project, the club were able to re-coup the professional services that all three supplied. As a result Bill, Peter and Jim proposed to committee that the money be spent on the large screen TV and renovation of the former snooker room.

We would like to thank them for all the hard work over the last few years and no doubt we will all benefit from the new facility we have as a result.

Created: 17-Aug-17 22:20

Golf Today

Golf participation statistics are a stark reality check for clubs

August 9, 2017 The Scoop

Golf numbers are dwindling to the tune of about half a million players, and guest NCG columnist Judith Matharu thinks she knows why...

As a keen golfer, listening to ‘In the Rough, Golf’s Uncertain Future’ on Radio 4 proved fascinating. It prompted me to check the golf participation statistics. This confirmed my suspicions.

Considering golf data from Statista, the statistics portal regarding golf participation in England from 2007 to 2016, the conclusion is that, as of September 2016, approximately 1.13 million adults in England play golf on a monthly basis. Since 2007, the number of golf players has thus been decreasing from about 1.54m players. This makes a decrease of about 27 per cent over eight years.

It seems clubs are closing and players are moving into new physical activities.

Sport England’s ‘Active People Survey’ has also been monitoring the number of people playing golf since 2008, when the sport had more than 1.54m monthly participants. There was slightly better news for weekly golf participation in Britain in the last year. Sport England suggested that the number of people playing golf weekly stands at 740,100, a rise of nearly 10,000 in a year, but still nearly 200,000 fewer than seven years ago.

So what is happening to golf and why are fewer players participating in the sport in 2017?

Why are many of them, according to Radio 4, moving into the gym or getting into cycling? The Golf Associations acknowledge there are some underlying issues. There is a dearth of, in particular, female and young players, with most golf clubs acknowledging a predominance of senior male members.

England Golf is running a number of fairly high-profile campaigns to promote the game and challenge the stuffy image of the sport but some fundamental ‘elephants in the room’ still need challenging at club level.

The cost of the sport aside – no-one can deny that golf is expensive in terms of club membership and the cost of the equipment (why don’t clubs invest in sets of clubs to encourage a ‘try before you buy’ approach for all newcomers to the game and not just juniors?) – six additional factors appear true in one degree or another in far too many clubs and are, individually or collectively, contributing to this problem.

1. Newsflash: New members are a good thing

A prevailing atmosphere of sometimes overt, frequently covert snobbery still exists in too many clubs.

The preserve of an elitist culture that does not welcome new faces readily, despite all the rhetoric and the inevitable fancy membership deals for new members, there are usually all sorts of barriers to overcome to actually join most golf clubs, never mind the clubhouse. Sadly, too many existing members are often suspicious of new players.

Some of these, heaven forbid, might actually have promise, be successful and with the potential to challenge the status quo. Despite seeking coaching and practising constantly to improve their game, these ‘newbies’ have the damn nerve to win a few things off their too-high handicaps, are certain to be labelled as bandits in the club bar, feel uncomfortable and begin to wonder if this is the right sport for them or whether to turn their considerable sporting talents elsewhere.

2. The power of quality

How about realising the UK’s equality legislation of 2010? (Yes, guys, it is actually the law of the land.) A culture of sexism remains apparent in many clubs where females can only play at certain times, because male dominance in weekend competitions still prevails in many clubs together with a complete lack of understanding that in 2017 some female golfers do actually work too and might also want to play twice at the weekend in order to get value from their expensive membership fees.

The manner in which some clubs appoint their club captains remains archaic. The private nod and handshake between male members persists. Despite some enlightened clubs moving with the times, the glass ceiling remains pretty low in many clubs.

Know your place, ladies, the best you can expect is to be lady captain in many clubs.

3. The kids are, in fact, alright

Far from encouraging, supporting and embracing junior players and adopting an active, meaningful youth development strategy – “Good God, you mean we should actually play with them?” – you frequently find a youth policy that exists in name only and does absolutely nothing to challenge an atmosphere of, at best, tolerant indifference and, at worst, open hostility towards junior players.

All the beginner coaching courses in the world do not help or support juniors to bridge that huge gap between beginner coaching and actually getting onto the course with other golfers to play a few holes.

So many of them have the generic ‘free’ coaching on offer in the summer holidays (!) so the club can point to its junior development strategy with pride, but never actually transition to the next stage of membership.

4. I’m an adult, let me dress myself

An insistence on various clothing etiquette rules that appear to have changed little for centuries. You must have a collar on your shirt.

(I could never understand this. Does the presence of this collar help one hit the ball better?)

If you are male you must have white socks with your tailored shorts in summer months, but female players can have any colour socks? And females may have their shirts loosely outside their trousers to preserve their female dignity but men must have them tucked in?

The professional game for ladies is changing in terms of dress codes but it seems this does not extend to club level. So, we all continue to collude and look stupid together and perpetuate the myth that to dress in this way represents some sort of gold standard and you actually know how to behave on the course with impeccable etiquette.

Some of the biggest idiots I have ever met on the golf course were in immaculate golfing attire. The dress rules are not confined to the course; they continue inside the clubhouse where the gentlemen swelter in 80 degrees until Mr Captain announces they may remove their jackets.

Again, ladies are not required to comply with this convention, probably because when the tradition was first conceived, no-one imagined ladies could possibly be in the clubhouse anyway.

5. We do have other things to do, you know?

The time taken for your round is a big inhibitor. Various rules and traditional etiquettes of the game slow the game down to snail’s pace and ensure your round lasts for ever, which is completely unreasonable given the pressures on everyone’s time nowadays.

ready golfYou must hit strictly in turn according to the distance of your ball to the pin, regardless of whether you are actually ready to play or the location of your trolley and clubs; you take umpteen practice swings and weigh up your putts from every conceivable angle; you amble around the course, apparently searching for stray balls forever, even pausing at the ponds to see if you might be able to retrieve some that are not actually yours, without ever calling others through who are waiting patiently behind.

An insistence by many clubs, despite the new GolfSixes game being introduced to jazz up the sport at a professional level, that it’s not a ‘proper golf game’ unless it is waged over a full 18 holes, and a separatist attitude and general reluctance against having mixed, family or even general 9-hole ‘fun’ competitions that all might participate in.

Evidently, golf cannot just be ‘fun’ – it is clearly against the rules.

6. This is your final warning

The atmosphere in some club houses is often off-putting to say the least. In some clubs, you may not enter without a collar and tie! Quiet and restrained is the order of the day otherwise you might attract unwelcome attention, while unseemly behaviour is worthy of chastisement from Mr Captain or Mr President (you will know this person as his photo is often found above the bar) or, at worst, a letter from the committee requesting you to display more appropriate behaviour and to please take this as an official warning or next time you may be asked to appear in front of the committee to explain yourself.

And we wonder why people are not staying with golf? Golf club management teams and golf club members, let’s have a serious reality check please and take a long, hard, 360-degree look at all of the issues: the ethos, the atmosphere, the rules, the endless, inexplicable traditions that cannot be tampered with and let’s try much harder to move with the times.

Otherwise we may as well all dig out our cycling gear.

Created: 17-Aug-17 21:59

Club Champion - Alex Dixon

After yet another gruelling 18holes of strokeplay on Friday afternoon, it was Dixon who came out on top. In the end it came down to the last hole in the 18hole playoff, after 53holes they were standing level with one to play. Both players but their balls down the middle and then two great approach shots saw both players with birdie opportunities.

Dixon putted first from approx 10ft and knocked in the birdie putt, Phil narrowly missed his and the title went to Alex Dixon for the 4th time.

Dixon finished with a 3under round and Ridden with a 2under.

Created: 14-Aug-17 11:40

Q- What is Thatch?

Thatch levels have an important role to play in the quality of a playing surface, despite not being entirely understood by the majority of golfers.

When too much thatch is present, the turfgrass environment changes and the way the golf ball interacts with the surface will change. You’ll find balls don’t roll evenly, even across the same green.

Thatch is a layer of dead vegetation that sits between the green vegetation you see and the soil. It’s caused when the grass is growing and being cut faster than it can be decomposed.

Poa annua, the most common grass species found on UK parkland courses, and hard-wearing fescues, such as you find at links courses around the coast, are especially notorious for causing excessive thatch.

Like a little layer of fat on your body, a small layer of thatch has the advantage of providing a level of protection and resiliency against traffic stress and ball impact.

But, like fat, too much of a good thing can quickly cause serious problems.

Excessive thatch can cause increased disease and insect problems, localised dry spots, soft and spongy surfaces, and decreased heat, cold and drought tolerances.

Thatch can be kept at bay with good maintenance regimes, but invariably mechanical methods will be brought into play. There are many terms that are used in the industry; scarification, verticutting and grooming have all been with us for many years.

Forms of aeration such as hollow coring could also be considered but they do all have one thing in common: they disrupt the playing surface to a greater or lesser extent.

With all things in turf management, prevention is better than cure, and your greens team will be working hard to prevent a thick layer of thatch developing in the first place.

To watch the BIGGA greenkeeping series videos visit:

BIGGA represents the Nation's greenkeepers and works hard through education and training to raise standards in golf course management throughout the greenkeeping profession. To find out more about the work BIGGA do visit:

Created: 04-Aug-17 09:47
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