Kenilworth Golf Club, one of the oldest in Warwickshire, is a course rich in wildlife. In fact it's so rich the club has developed a Conservation Policy to balance the needs of its golfers with nature.
The way in which course manager Richard Dorrington and his greenkeeping team manage the course on a daily basis is closely reflected in this policy and other approaches created to keep the course moving forward.
Indeed, the club has a committee formed with Richard and handpicked members to set out and deliver the key objectives and improvements needed to create a course that is playable 365 days a year, provides a fair test for all levels of golfer and illustrates its dedication to the conservation of natural wildlife.
A five-year rolling plan was created that, in its infancy, was mainly dedicated to drainage and pathways in strategic areas to allow play to continue in inclement weather.
This is now in its ninth year and Richard is pleased to report that even after the horrendous rainfall in 2014 he has only been forced to close four times for water logging!
Richard and his team are now on the next chapter in a rolling programme and have turned their concentration and financial commitment to the finer detail and aesthetic appearance of the course.
To help Kenilworth deliver its plans for the 18-hole course, Richard has signed up with Toro in a five-year exclusivity agreement for the club's turf machinery. This gives him the reassurance of having new machinery every year to match course requirements.
Richard comments: "The fact that the club has supported a five-year agreement is a crucial part of the plan. In the past we have had a seven-year replacement plan but a new fleet every five years will give us a better quality of cut and appearance as well as reduce downtime dramatically, allowing us to dedicate more of time to areas that have had to take a back seat.
"I've always used Toro, they have the edge over all other manufactures on our land. With firm plans for this year and the five-year future, I need to be able to trust the machines we've got to make sure we achieve what we want with the course.
The beauty of the five-year agreement is that each year I can order the machines to suit where we are with those plans."
For 2014 Richard has chosen the TriFlex 3420, Reelmaster 5510, Groundsmaster 4700, Workman HDX-D, GreensPro 1200 and the SandPro 3040 - a wide range of greens and grounds machines and utility vehicles to tackle a host of jobs.
"One of the primary objectives for 2014 is improving the overall look of the course," Richard continues. "We're addressing this in many ways. We decided to go with the Reelmaster 5510 mower for the fairways. T
his is a reduction in unit size from the seven-unit machine we used previously. We've made this change as we feel this is a more agile machine and will give a better appearance on the smaller bays.
"We had been using the Sidewinder 3500 on the semi-roughs and banks of greens but after an extended demonstration in 2013 we have gone for the 3100 Sidewinder.
This has made a big difference to the aesthetics of the course. The addition of the TriFlex 3420 means we now have two greensmowers and this will allow us to be more efficient. Whatever the height of cut, the TriFlex gives a perfect finish.
"The GreensPro will be such a help in getting the course competition-ready. With this and our existing unit we'll be able to iron in half the time, which means not only are we more efficient but there's less disruption for members, too."
Richard concludes: "I have been fortunate to work for such a forward-thinking club and alongside so many proactive committee members over the years and a management committee that has supported the programme financially."