Golf Committee Chairman’s Update
I would like to introduce myself having taken over the role of Chairman of the Golf Committee from Scott Stanley earlier this year, whom I would like to specifically thank for his vision, leadership and diligence during the time he served. I certainly consider it a privilege to hold the role and pledge to keep the Membership regularly updated on developments and decisions made. I also encourage you to keep up to date by reading the minutes of the Golf Committee Meetings which are available on the Club website under ‘The Club – Committees and Minutes’ and to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any thoughts or concerns you may have.
Rough on the course
As we head deeper into the summer months, I am glad to see the course so green and in such excellent condition, and I want to commend Peter Bradburn and his team for the fantastic job they have done to get us here. Weather wise we had a difficult start to the year, with an exceptionally cold and dry spring that reduced grass growth considerably. This was followed by periods of significant rainfall in May, which, combined with increased soil temperatures, resulted in an extraordinary acceleration of growth in all directions. The result of which is that the rough now is indeed very lush, but I have been assured that Peter and his staff do what it takes to continue to comply with the Course Policy Document on rough length. So, although the rough seems thicker it is not necessarily longer than in previous years. Nonetheless the Committee is appreciative of the difficulty the rough is causing many Members, particularly in reaching certain fairways, so we are considering reducing some areas to semi-rough height to facilitate carries on a few holes. As for the greens, the Club has had to cope without roller equipment for a few months this spring as our previous rollers coincidentally but unfortunately reached the end of their lifespan together. With a new roller on site now, we will all benefit from rolled greens again and last I checked they were already running quite fast and true.
IGC and Sports Shop
As some of you may know, the Club has approved upgrades to the Member golf experience to bring it in line with the excellence of the facilities we see across other sports at Roehampton Club. We are currently speaking with third-party architects and developers to implement upgrades to the Sports Shop as well as new practice facilities located in the current driving range area, in closer proximity to the first tee and to each other. The location and facilities are intended to enhance the golfer’s journey at the Club and include an indoor space with simulator bays and artificial putting green, a restricted length outdoor driving range encased in ‘high netting’ (with some technology) and a safe location for a newly developed short game area in between the two. The short game area currently next to the 18th hole would likely also get an overhaul but would become intended primarily for teaching and clinics. The main premise behind the indoor facility would be to allow golf Members of all abilities to improve their game all year around while offering an opportunity for non-golf Members and families to learn the game or to just have some fun. We would expect both a formal practice as well as social benefit for years to come, starting around the spring of 2023 when construction completion is expected.
18th and 10th holes
You will have noticed the changes to the 18th tee, which were necessary to prevent balls from leaving the course and entering Fairacres. Although the 18th has become a more difficult finishing hole as a result for some, and out of bounds right was necessary to really drive the point home, we believe this change has been effective so far, with few, if any, balls leaving Club grounds. On a similar note, I am pleased to report we have found a solution to an equally urgent problem on the 10th hole, which has seen some balls entering Priory Lane, or worse, finding their way into Priory Lodge School located a few hundred yards down the road. To rectify this pressing matter, we plan to extend the width of the 10th middle tee a few yards further right towards Priory Lane, removing some hedge in the process (re-planted) which will result in a hole that will play noticeably more like a dogleg right. The hole will still play as a par 5 however and the utility road to the right of the tee can remain in use as it is today. Most importantly, based on simulations performed, this new location seems to prevent balls from leaving the course, particularly when utilising additional netting along the right. This new location will likely encourage players to aim further left though, so we would insist that long hitters always ensure the ninth hole is clear before teeing off. The newly rebuilt tee will not become operational until the end of the year, so we plan on also upgrading the quality of the current temporary tee for play until then. The back tee on 10 will remain untouched but will only rarely see play, on occasions such as the Gold Cup and Club Championships.
Trees on the course
A few more points to communicate include our review of the quality of trees around the entirety of the Club site and some felling as a result. This review follows an incident on 1 June when a tree blew over and landed on top of a moving vehicle that was travelling along Clarence Lane. We have had to remove a Scots Pine and Turkey Oak by the 12th green and we lost a sick Ash tree to the right of the second tee. Although we plan to plant replacement Hawthorn trees in the autumn, this Ash tree removal is quite regrettable as it not only impacts approach shots to the opening hole, but it also makes it much more enticing for some of our longer hitters to hit driver off the first tee. We cannot prevent this club selection, but can I please ask you to use extra care when teeing off the first. Along similar lines, can Members who are intentionally hitting balls down the second fairway (from the 15th tee) or down the 10th fairway (from the 9th tee) stop doing so immediately, as this is not how these holes are meant to be played and can be disconcerting and dangerous to fellow golfers.
17th and 18th tees
We also intend to request that players teeing off the 18th tee now allow for the players coming down 17 to tee off first, as the bottleneck on 16 and 17 is often significant and can be frustrating as you enter the final stretch of holes.
Removal of restrictions
On a more positive note, and further to the Prime Minister’s recent announcement lifting almost all Coronavirus rules and restrictions from Monday 19 July, I can announce that golf at Roehampton Club will operate with no restrictions from then on, and will follow the England Golf ‘Play Safe, Stay Safe’ guidance on re-opening of golf. The Club will provide further information in due course, but this new guidance will allow a semblance of normality to return, meaning that, amongst other things, flags can be removed, rakes will return to bunkers and restrictions on social distancing and sharing of equipment will end. Our Intelligent Golf tee time booking system has however proven popular and will remain in place for the foreseeable future.
Finally, I’d like to thank the Club for supporting the commencement of the Cadet programme for our ‘high performance’ junior golfers on Sunday afternoons as well as a huge thanks to Annabell and Sammy Fuller for entertaining 30 Lady Members on 21st June as they hosted an on-course clinic and follow up Q&A. The week after, Members (including yours truly) had the pleasure to partner Annabell for nine holes as she completed four rounds in one day(!), all in the name of the Laurie Todd Foundation and in memory of Granville Lloyd. A wonderful day with even better company raising in excess of £3.5k. We are all extremely proud of both Fuller sisters, and as well as wishing Annabell the very best of luck as she represents GB&I in The Curtis Cup (26-28 August at Conwy Golf Club) we also wish Sammy lots of strength and success in her recovery from injury.