£400,000 investment by Gilnahirk Golf Club in Castlereagh
By Peter Driver
Castlereagh Borough Council have invested a further £400,000 in new turf maintenance equipment at their prestigious golf club at Gilnahirk on the outskirts of Belfast, in readiness for the opening of the new 12 holes scheduled for the Spring of next year.
This latest tranche included machinery valued at £120,000 which was purchased from local Ransomes Jacobsen dealer, Brodericks Northern Ireland, who supplied the equipment from a schedule drawn up by Course Manager Allister Hamilton.
Speaking recently after taking delivery, he said, "We looked at equipment from several suppliers and manufacturers and, ever mindful of providing best value to the people of Castlereagh, tested all items thoroughly. The greenkeeping team were integral to the process and their feed back was used as part of the decision making process. Although the prerequisite was for the equipment to be able to perform we also had to examine the service support from the supplying dealer. In this respect Brodericks were exemplary, even arranging visits to the Ransomes Jacobsen manufacturing facility in Ipswich. Operator training was an important part of the brief and both Brodericks and Ransomes Jacobsen have provided much needed support and encouragement to the greenkeeping team, which consists of six apprentices."
Castlereagh Borough Council took the decision to upgrade the course in 2001 and purchased a tract of land adjacent to the existing 9 holes at Gilnahirk where they are in the process of growing in a new back 12 and building a superb new club house with bar, restaurant and office facilities.
The new area of the course, comprising an additional 55 acres, has been carefully shaped and landscaped to provide a test for golfers of all standards. New ponds, wet lands and conservation areas have been established to support the club's environmental policy. This was immediately successful when ducks bred on the recently constructed feature lake earlier this year.
The existing course will be integrated into the new 12 holes by reshaping some of the current holes in the style of the new. Also several areas have been renovated including the installation of a new drainage system and lengthening the 18th hole by demolishing the existing clubhouse, removing a rock ridge and moving the tee back to where the clubhouse once stood. "Come April next year we are confident that we will have one of the premier golfing facilities in Northern Ireland," said Allister Hamilton. "We will be able to offer golfers the best municipal course in the province; a truly quality golfing experience from a progressive and forward thinking premier local authority."
Individuals in photograph are (l-r): Joe Ferguson, assistant course manager; Allister Hamilton, golf course and sports turf manager; greenkeeping apprentices Lee McCord, Joe Corry, Gary Sloan, Nigel Kelly and Paul Catherwood; Andrew Ferguson, general manager, Brodericks NI and Stephen Mitchell, customer care director, Ransomes Jacobsen.