After a winter of allowing the re-constructed greens to settle and after ensuring decent growth and dressing to provide a good surface, the decision was made to open all the greens in time for Easter.
Since the opening, the feedback from all members and visitors has been excellent.
Given the huge project, which cost just under £400,000, players have been surprised at how well the ball has rolled on the greens and how true the surface has been.
To show how successful the project has been, James Braithwaite, Course Manager reported:
‘On Easter Sunday there was 21mm of rainfall in just four hours with 15mm of this in the final hour! ‘The greens surfaces were flooded but within 10 minutes of the rain ceasing the greens were dry, firm and playable’.
ALSO A WINTER COURSE!
With well-draining fairways and tees, the free draining greens has been the last part of the jigsaw to provide year round golf for members and visitors. The club is making some small changes to ensure that the course remains open and that members can use trolleys in all but really exceptional weather conditions.
The course over the years has hosted some very prestigious tournaments and only this year the England Seniors Scratch Championship was played at the club.
The member-owned club, based just 10 minutes from Bristol City Centre, has been widely recognised as having some of the best greens in the region but in recent years, particularly in winter, some of the greens have been rendered unplayable after periods of very heavy rain.
Research carried out by the club’s project team indicated that the only permanent solution to this problem would be to reconstruct the greens.
Long Ashton, which was formed in 1893, had clay-based greens which was a standard design in the days prior to irrigation systems being introduced.
James Braithwaite, the club’s Course Manager who has overseen the project explained: “The purpose of the old greens was to retain moisture, but they were not designed to cope with the short periods of very heavy rainfall in summer and excessive amounts in the winter that we have seen in recent years.”
The club was also very aware of the changing requirements of golfers of when they can play their golf. Vicky Rose, the Long Ashton General Manager commented: “As members’ social and business lives have got busier, there is a requirement to play golf when it’s convenient for them to do so. The Long Ashton committee decided that the club had to offer that facility – thereby enabling members to play whatever the weather”.
Such a large reconstruction of greens has so far only been carried out by clubs in the Home Counties, but their advice and that of the world’s leading authority, the Sports Turf Research Institute, led to a robust specification being drawn up and sent to a number of specialist contractors.
Club members were well informed during this research phase, which culminated in a general meeting at which a large majority present voted to proceed.
A contractor, M J Abbott & Sons of Salisbury, Wiltshire, was selected with two critical elements of the project specified: The turf on the clay-based greens would be lifted and reinstalled on the newly constructed green and that the works should be completed in 5 weeks or less in order to give the best opportunity for re-establishment of the turf.
The club also took the opportunity to renew the ageing irrigation pipework to 9 greens and construct 3 new tees during this period.
Since the works have been completed, many members have commented that the greens look exactly as they did before and, thanks to technology employed by the contractor, all greens have the same contours as before.
The heavy rainfalls of the last month or so have provided an excellent test of the newly constructed greens. James Braithwaite said: “Over a 3 day period at the end of October we had 67mm of rainfall. The new greens drained the water so well that they would have been playable at all times.”
Club Chairman Ken Trowbridge who has presided over the project commented “Apart from building the course in the first place over 100 years ago, this was probably the most ambitious project ever undertaken by the club.”
“Being on a hill overlooking the City, our fairways and tees naturally drain well and now we will have greens to match!”
“It was a huge amount of money to spend but we are the only traditional members golf club in Bristol with 18 free draining greens which will enable our members and visitors to be confident that they can play golf at Long Ashton Golf Club - whatever the rainfall.”
Perhaps the final words should be from probably the finest golfer to be a Long Ashton Golf Club member – European Tour professional, Chris Wood in his recent blog.
“...my home club of Long Ashton is undergoing a huge project to lift the greens, put better drainage in, before putting the grass back in the same place as before.”
“...with the work due to be completed in the next few weeks, I can see Long Ashton having some of the best greens in the area all-year round.”