'In house' changes at the Bristol and Clifton G.C.

Matthew Hawker in Golf

'In house' at the Bristol and Clifton Golf Club


The people of Clifton village founded the Bristol and Clifton Golf Club in 1891. At the time they were unable to build the course on the downs in Clifton, so they purchased a site three miles from the Clifton suspension bridge.

In more recent years the club has attracted some impressive talent, and currently has two England squad players in their membership. Matt Stanford in the main squad, Andy Rudge in the youth squad. Five of our members are in the county squad and the club won the Gloucestershire club honours, with a very respectable fourth place in the national club championships. Matt Stanford, the club champion was third in the UK Champion of champion's tournament run by the EGU at Woodhall Spa. To top off a great year the ladies also won the gross team championships for the county.

The club are looking to continually up grade the course, with an emphasis on practice facilities. We have an eight bay practice rangeBr&clCliftonclubhouse.jpg

The club is a main EGU coaching centre for the South West.

The construction of the new chipping green was started last September and it was opened two months ago. The green has been developed in three tiers and offers two sand bunkers and a grass bunker. It was designed to practice any type of chip or pitching shot and was built to full USGA specifications. The 70:30 root zone of sand and peat was graded to levels and then over seeded with American Providence creeping bent grass. This has been successfully germinated and Br&clbunkersgreenpitch.jpg

We have received great feedback from members who are thrilled with the way the green has turned out. Peter McAvoy, who came along to officially open the green six weeks ago, designed the green.

We have seven greens staff here at the Clifton, one of whom is our mechanic. When he is in front of ourBr&clroughcutting.jpg

We try to be as self sufficient as possible and have just finished putting in our own full irrigation system with fairway watering as well. It has taken us two years to do and been one hell of a learning curve for all of us, but thoroughly self-satisfying to have achieved this result. We have installed the Rainbird Stratus 2 Br&clirrigationringdig.jpg

The course was built using old-fashioned clay push up greens. Over the last fifty years there has been ongoing improvements to these greens with aeration, hollow tining and top dressing operations. The greens now have about 12" (300mm) of root zone over the original clay tops.

The greens that still lie wettest in the winter are being revamped, and we have employed the services of North Staffs Irrigation to integrate drainage systems to new catchment drains that we are installing ourselves. During October we hope to drain six greens, and with drier greens my hope is to increase the Agrostis populations on the putting surface.


I would like to see some more minor changes to the overall course design. In the last few years we have started to redesign and remodel some of the bunkers on the course. Again we have been lucky to employ Peter McAvoy's services in the bunker designs.

As technology has improved, we have found that the original placement of bunkers on the course penalised the higher handicap golfers, whereas the better players are now able to drive straight over. The aim now is to move bunkers further up towards the greens, and have cluster bunkers instead of single larger ones.


It seems that we never stop upgrading the course, whether it is new construction of greens, irrigation, drainage, bunkers or subtle changes in fairway design. We try to provide a balance that keeps the course challenging but not too frustrating.

The major benefits in doing the work 'in-house' is that we know the work has been done correctly, we know exactly where pipes and cables are laid and that we, as a team, continue to learn and understand the latest techniques in golf course management.

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