Speedcut build new tees at Kingswood ready for the Senior Open Qualifiers

Mike Beardallin Golf

Another view from new tee 14 during construction May 19thSpeedcut Contractors have built new tees at the 14th hole for Kingswood Golf and Country Club in Surrey ready for the Senior Open Qualifiers starting on July 18th.

The Senior Open Championship takes place at nearby Walton Heath on July 21-24.

The superb course at Kingswood overlooks stunning open countryside and the new 14th tee has been built on farmland acquired by the club owner Tom Hilliard.

Course manager David Gibbs, who has been at Kingswood for 20 years, said Speedcut had done a very fast and efficient build using existing earth and importing new rootzone materials at the end of May and had also laser-levelled the 18th tee in preparation for the Qualifiers.

David and his team of greenkeepers then spent three days laying 2,600 square metres of ryegrass turf supplied by Proturf of Doncaster. They also put down 300 square metres on the re-levelled 18th.

"Speedcut did an excellent job. They were up against a tight deadline," said David. "We have also had irrigation installed by DDM Irrigation and will be constantly watering during the continuing dry weather. We need to have the tees ready by July 18th, so this is a real test of what we can achieve."

David, who was previously at Shirley Park Golf Club in Croydon - where his father Brian was course manager - is proud of the Kingswood course which has superb surroundings and facilities. He has a staff of six, including a mechanic and a gardener.

Golf obviously runs in the family. David's son Luke (20) works in golf services at Celtic Manor - home of last year's Ryder Cup and venue for the Wales Open. David himself has played off a handicap of five. "I'm a little rusty now," he says. His daughter Danielle (16) and wife Kim live in a house on the course, so work is also home.

When he joined Kingswood, as deputy to Ken Cooper, he was also course manager at Surrey Downs GC - a job he carried on at the same time for three years until 2001, when he took over from Ken on his retirement.

TTee 14 at Kingswood on May 19th before turfinghe 18-hole Kingswood course was originally built in the 1920s by James Braid, five times winner of The Open.

Kingswood, one of the leading courses in the South East, has undergone extensive re-design and construction.

Through innovative design and appreciation of the natural landscape, the course is earning itself an enviable reputation in the world of top-quality golf.

A recent investment of almost £400,000 has elevated Kingswood ever closer to its goal of being one of the very best golf courses in the south east.

There are some fantastic "signature" holes and most notably the par 3's and 5's which have become the most talked about by anyone visiting Kingswood.

"Kingswood is 600 feet above sea level," says David. "It makes for some challenging problems in the current dry weather, but we have pop-up irrigation installed and this is all computer-controlled.

"The turf we have laid has been kept thoroughly irrigated, and where grass has suffered in sloped areas we are concentrating jets with hoses at regular intervals."

Machinery on the course is mainly Jacobsen for the fairways, Toro GM3250s for the greens with Toro Workmans that include sprayer and topdressing units.

"This is a great course to work on and always a challenge," says David. "I have regular meetings with Tom Hilliard, the owner, and keep him informed of any problems or work in progress so that he usually knows before anyone.

"We very rarely use temporary greens - the back nine are on very open soil, but the front nine are on some clay which has caused problems in the past with very wet winter weather. It's very rare for us not to have the course in play - and the members appreciate the work that the greenkeeping staff put in."

David believes that bunkers should always be in good shape. "Bunkers are always kept neat and tidy because they are the focal point for players and visitors," he says.

The battle is now on to get the course ready for the Senior Open Qualifiers on July 18th and David is pleased with the results achieved by Speedcut Contractors on the tees. "They really give attention to every detail," says David.

Speedcut contracts manager Barry Pace said: "We were delighted to be working with David and his team at Kingswood and to assist him with completing everything in time for the Qualifiers."

Speedcut Contractors on 01865 331479. www.speedcutcontractors.co.uk

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