The challenge of change

Steve Mitchellin Golf

Robin Hood JD fleet A.jpgAndy Wood is in his first year as course manager of Robin Hood Golf Club in Solihull in the West Midlands, having had the same role at Cosby Golf club near Leicester for seven years, following a six-year spell at The Belfry, which he left as deputy head greenkeeper.

He has initiated an ambitious five year plan for the Robin Hood, and ordered a new fleet of course maintenance and service equipment worth over £300,000; this was bought on a John Deere Credit five year finance package, following a review of his requirements with John Deere and Birmingham based dealer Turner Groundscare of Erdington.

Against the background of a tough economy and in an area with a well publicised downturn in the automotive market, the club is certainly showing initiative by investing in and marketing the club for the future.

"Basically we're aiming to become an Open qualifying venue," says Andy. "Therefore we have to upgrade every aspect of the golf course, from first impressions on arrival, through to course improvements from the tees to the greens, and introducing proper practice facilities.

"The first step has been the investment in new machinery, the second was bringing in the right team around me in a new deputy and first assistant and we've undertaken a major drainage programme," Andy explains. These are obviously very big plans, but they need to be carried out without major disruption to the day to day play - there is a lot of quality competition for golfers in the Midlands, and Robin Hood cannot afford to lose membership while the work progresses.

Andy's solution to this potential problem is equally innovative - he put out a request earlier in 2009 for volunteer members to work with the green keeping team of seven, plus a part-time gardener, to help push the project ahead. This has already proved successful in helping members to understand how hard the greenkeepers work, and what goes into maintaining and improving a busy golf course.

"We've maintained constant communication with the membership through meetings and e-mails, to keep them informed, and they've been fully supportive of what we're trying to do, it's been a fantastic two-way collaboration," says Andy.

"Members get an insight into what's happening with their money, and I get the message across to them about our objectives and what needs to be done to achieve them. Because of this, and the work they see happening on the course, they're interested and want to support it.

"If we can succeed in what we want to create, it will be a fantastic golf course - and we won't need to worry about attracting new members and societies, because people will want to play here."

Henry Bredin
John Deere Limited
Tel: 01949 860491
Fax: 01949 860490

Photo caption: Robin Hood Golf Club course manager Andy Wood (left) with Russell Tomlinson of John Deere dealer Turner Groundscare of Erdington.

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