Latest updates

← Back to news

Course update

 Dear GC member

First and foremost we share your frustration about the frequency of recent course closures. We are not an exception as courses across the UK have endured the recent rain. The update below contains more information on this and how we plan to respond positively in coming weeks and months. Our hope is that we as a GC continue to do our best to work together as we plan for the season ahead in expectation of better times for us all.

For context it is important to recall that following the 2023 season we have responded to members feedback and actions have been taken, including:

  • The greenkeeping team has been strengthened in terms of skills and experience by bringing new Deputy Head (Development) Rob, and Greenkeeper, Jim.
  • This has been combined with a change in the greenkeeping team’s structure. Ade is now Deputy Head (Maintenance) with Rob, Deputy Head (Development). This change has enabled the team to take a twin track approach to the course since the Autumn. As evidenced below the course maintenance of playing areas and developments such as winter tee and path installation have been progressing well when conditions have allowed.
  • In October an additional Ventrac tractor with a wide area mower and blower was purchased. We now have two of these along with 6 attachments which makes course maintenance much more efficient.
  • Another very important change to note is that as of January the greenkeeping team have altered their working week to ensure there are at least two members the team in at weekends. The benefit of this change has been immediately noticed as course prep and other tasks are carried out before the days play on a Saturday and Sunday.

Despite the unprecedented persistent rain much has been achieved in both maintenance and development since the summer of 2023

As the gallery shows these include – Short game area – Landscaping on 3rd/9th – Landscaping and root barrier putting green – 1st tee renovation – Path linking 13th green to 17th tee – Path from 17th green to 18th tee – Pro Core aeration – Hand mowing greens and tees – Ventrac on fairways, tree clearance and other important maintenance tasks

However, as the rainfall charts below show we, like so many courses across the UK, have had to cope with rain that has caused saturation and course closures. The lightest shade of blue describes 1-4mm of rain in 24 hours, darker 5-9mm and the darkest 10mm and above. As the BIGGA article describes, we like most courses can cope with 1-4mm most days, the frequency of 10mm and above is where the issue lies.

See the link HERE from the British Greenkeepers Association to see how widespread the disruption has been

The past few weeks have been been especially challenging for all of us. The pictures below have been taken during recent course inspections and demonstrate why these  decisions have been made.

We are determined to make the course for the 2024 season the best yet at Hagley GC. To achieve this we are taking the following actions:

  • Employing an additional member of the green keeping team for the season. This will take the total staff to 7 as of mid-March
  • The pedestrianisation (using machinery that does not depend on being attached to tractors) of maintenance will be furthered by the purchase of a Toro Pro core aerator. The machine is in very high demand so whilst we await delivery we have secured regular hire in the meantime.
  • Hand mowers for greens and tees are another example of this shift in working practices to adapt to course conditions caused by rainfall.

The Greens Committee will continue to inform all course development decisions and help to formulate a long term course development plan in partnership with the green keeping team. The short term plans (completion before end of 2024) include::

  • Extension of paths onto back 9 to create a year round 15 hole loop of combined path/route planner from 1-13, 17&18. This is next phase toward our ultimate goal of having safe paths/route planner for all 18 holes.
  • Bunker renovations on 2nd and 3rd holes, as well as remedial work on the right side of 14th green. The methods used on 2nd and 3rd will be different to those trialled on 14th.
  • Tree removal across large areas of the course to improve light exposure and aeration for tees and greens

Longer term plans will be shared as the season progresses.

It is also important we recognise the significant increase in both operational spend i.e. expenditure on day to day activities including staff, materials and third party works and capital spend i.e. machinery, materials for development works and additional spaces such as the short game area that has been made by Lyttelton Enterprises in the past few years. We are confident this level of financial commitment to the golf course will continue to be a priority and your continued commitment to the GC will enable this to continue too.

Finally, as noted in the BIGGA article, patience is being required across the entire UK golf community at the moment but we hope the report above demonstrates that this patience will be rewarded in the 2024 season here at Hagley GC.


The Greens Committee