Golf Committee Chairman’s Update
Following on from my note in the July Recorder I wanted to provide an update on golf related developments at the Club in case you are not able attend the Annual Meeting of Golfers on Saturday morning.
I’m pleased to communicate that we continue to play golf at Roehampton Club under the England Golf ‘Play Safe, Stay Safe’ guidance with no COVID-related restrictions to speak of. I am optimistic that the course will remain open throughout the winter period but am also conscious that we are again heading into the colder season where viruses thrive. So please continue to take care of yourselves and each other, inside and outside of Club property.
I have been delighted with the condition of the course and hope most of you share this sentiment. Peter Bradburn and his team have done a fantastic job presenting the course as they have, particularly given the continued COVID-related staff constraints. The greens have been fabulous by and large but the rough remains thick in places. In response, we have mown some areas around fairway bunkers and cut back a few carries to semi-rough height, which will hopefully make play more manageable and enjoyable for many among us. I must remind Members that this may not necessarily remain the case next year though, when rough density may revert to the norm.
I would like to take this opportunity to specifically thank our Head Greenkeeper, Ashley Allpress, who is sadly leaving the club to take up the position of Course Manager at Guildford Golf Club. We are very grateful for his hard work over the past six years, and he will be dearly missed, but we certainly wish him all the best of luck in his new role. The Club is currently interviewing multiple replacement candidates and expect to have the role filled in the next month.
Finally, a friendly request to always tee off with a pitchfork in your pocket if you can. Your ball can leave an imprint on the greens no matter how short your approach shot was and this pitch mark may not be anywhere near where your ball ultimately ends up. So please be cognisant of this and do repair your pitch marks (and others) when you see them, especially now that we are heading into the wetter winter season again.
10th Hole and Priory Lane Netting
You may have already noticed the installation of a new and improved temporary tee on the 10th hole. This will remain in place until the redevelopment of the main tee is complete, which as you know has become necessary to prevent stray balls from entering Priory Lane. Project works are currently still held up in anticipation of an ecological survey and planning consent from the council, but we expect approval in November in which case we hope to start construction as soon as possible thereafter. We also plan on extending the singular mound that is currently located between the ninth and tenth holes towards the trees behind the eighth green, to create a clear divide between the two holes and to emphasise that we wish for players to aim to hit the fairway of the hole they are playing as opposed to intentionally hitting the adjacent one.
For safety reasons we also plan on installing new 8m netting along the Club boundary by the 11th tee as well as behind the 12th green which is adjacent to the busy intersection of Clarence Lane and Priory Lane. Subject to approval, these works will take place as soon as possible over the winter.
Golf Practice Area and Sports Shop
The GPG sub-committee is making progress with the indoor golf centre design provided by Ken Moodie (Course Architect) and although the planners liked our design in the pre-planning meeting, we are now amending it to extend the indoor golf centre by attaching the outdoor ‘Hi-Net’ golf pod to the back of it. A new short-game area is planned for development between the indoor golf centre and the ninth green, which will include multiple pods to practice a variety of different pitch and chip shots. We also intend to increase the size of the current putting green by taking over the existing chipping area. We are considering a ‘Himalaya style’ putting course as well as an area to practice purely flat putts. Subject to Board approval, project completion is expected by 2023, followed by the expected redevelopment of the new Sports Shop (in its current location) by 2024.
We have recently experienced significant and intense periods of rainfall, which has led to flooding of a number of areas of the course, particularly the holes along Clarence Lane (12th – 14th). This has been exacerbated by the recent redevelopment of the Ibstock School football pitches next to the 4th hole. To divert excess water flowing from these pitches we installed a drainage pipe along the ditch on the 14th, but overflow caused this pipe to burst resulting in excess water ending up behind the 12th green. This pool of water actually dissipates quite quickly but we are engaging with Ibstock School and drainage experts to identify additional measures to prevent excessive flooding going forward, as well as how to potentially harvest this water for future irrigation purposes.
You will have noticed the new signage on the 17th and 18th tees, where we now ask for all golfers on the 18th tee to call up players waiting on the 17th. This order will improve safety and will ease the bottleneck in that part of the course, which is particularly frustrating as you enter the final stretch. Please always try to keep this new policy in mind from now on.
You will also have seen the notice from the Golf Committee regarding golf plans for the winter period. Fourball golf will be allowed on every day except Thursdays, where a maximum of two balls per group will be mandated (foursomes and singles only). Singles matches can be guaranteed for the first three hours on Thursdays but thereafter foursomes play should become expected (even if you book to hope to play singles) given that other Members may join your slot. Additionally, despite the loss of a significant amount of day light, tee time intervals will initially remain at 10 minutes, although we may need to revert to eight minutes to manage capacity over the months with the shortest days this winter.
I wanted to also highlight the incredible achievements of Annabell Fuller over the last few months, who yet again represented GB&I in The Curtis Cup (playing in all five matches) and played in her first AIG Women’s British Open … making the cut no less! A fantastic achievement, yet again flying the flag for Roehampton Club in international golf. We also welcome another golf sensation in 16-year-old Hyun-Ji Kim (+2.8 hcp) who has joined Roehampton Club to work under the tutelage of our new Head Pro Ricky Pharo. This is exciting news for the Ladies and Junior Sections as she currently represents both Surrey and England and will compete for Roehampton Club for the first time in two weeks’ time. Welcome Hyun-Ji and good luck to all the ladies playing that day.
Finally, and as always, I encourage you to keep up to date with further developments by reading the minutes of the Golf Committee which are available on the Club website under ‘The Club – Committees and Minutes’ and to feel free to email me with any thoughts or concerns you may have.
I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the Annual Meeting of Golfers on Saturday, which will be followed by the Captain’s Drive in, where we get to thank Angela Atkins and Gerry Dennigan for their excellent captaincies over the COVID extended years, and of course welcome Patricia Morgan and Paul Taylor as they stripe their drives down the middle of the first.