Dry days are good days

HOPEFULLY, the dry weather of recent times is going to continue, especially as we start our earthmoving programme for the new golf course.

HOPEFULLY, the dry weather of recent times is going to continue, especially as we start our earthmoving programme for the new golf course.

The long spells of dry weather we've had were exactly what we needed, not only from managing a golf course but also for the enjoyment of golfers across the region.

I think if the rain from last year had continued most golfers would have found another hobby by now.

Fortunately the fairways across the region are looking green again, and this is encouraging golfers to get back out again.

Despite all the doom and gloom with the credit crunch after speaking to several colleagues in the golf industry in this region over the last month, North East golf is still as active as ever, and we are all striving to present our courses to the standard that golfers in this region demand.

Recently I have not had much time to play golf, however I did have the pleasure of playing at Matfen Hall two weeks ago and it was great to see the course in such good condition early in the season and it is a credit to the greenstaff - unfortunately, my golf was not of the same standard. One thing I do know is that for courses to maintain a high standard for the majority of the year requires a rigorous greenkeeping program and continuous investment back into the course.

It is a constant balancing act for clubs when trying to present the course at its best yet still allowing the greenstaff to carry out their maintenance program.

This is made more difficult because most course maintenance results in a short-term reduction in the quality of the course, but it is required for the long-term survival.

There are many different opinions on when the likes of hollow tining, and aeration should be carried out, and it is really down to each individual club to decide when it is the best time for them.

Clubs which rely heavily on pay and play may prefer to carry out the majority of their work in spring and autumn so the course is at its best throughout the season, however there is always the argument that by carrying out the work in the summer, the course has a much faster recovery time.

The recent dry weather has at least allowed us all to test our irrigation systems.

I am also now wondering whether all the investment in the winter in new drainage across the course was worthwhile after the last few weeks of dry weather, there is however one guarantee that it will not stay dry in the North East for long!

This has been an exciting month for us at Close House for several reasons - we are continuing to see the new golf course develop, which from any golfer's perspective is intriguing.

You no longer have to use your imagination to visualise how certain holes are going to look as they are now there in front of you. We obviously still have a long way to go, but every day you can see changes and before long it will be difficult to remember what the land was like before.

The architect for the course Scott Macpherson has been visiting Colt designed golf courses on the South coast and is flying over to Amsterdam to see four courses in Holland that were also designed by Harry Colt.

It is hoped we can use as many of the authentic Colt features within the course as possible, though it is difficult without research to understand what features on golf courses now are still original Colt designs because golf courses have evolved over the years and have had changes made.

This month has also been the start of Close House's campaign back in the Hadrian League after a four-year absence, and I was delighted when I received the news that we had won our first match, unfortunately to the detriment of Tyneside Golf Club.

This will however be an interesting season for our team because they do have the advantage that not many players will have played our course before.

We may not have the strongest team from a handicap point of view but with our undulating greens, home advantage will certainly help.

But I am looking forward to seeing how other golfers in the region play the course, especially as the standard in the Hadrian League is so high, and I hope that all the visiting teams will enjoy the course.

It's a Classic

WITH the 2009 season now well underway, the qualifiers for the annual Golf North East Amateur Classic are beginning to mount.

Last month we reported that Crook Golf Club had already staged its qualifier with 11-handicapper Kenny Peers booking his place in the final, which is to be staged at Close House Golf Club on Thursday, September 3rd.

Kenny has now been joined by Gary Catt from Richmond, Jonathan Brown from Magdalene Fields, W. Watt from Weaside and Frank Graham from Morpeth.

Qualifying for the big event is straightforward enough - you just have to win your club's designated qualifying event.

However, some clubs have yet to designate a qualifier and so we would urge all club members who haven't yet seen the Golf North East Gents Classic 2009 on their notice board, to contact a club official and see when it will be taking place.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
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