0 Successful PGA Senior's Event at Woodbury Park

Successful PGA Senior's Event at Woodbury Park

By Laurence Gale MSc


Ian Chenery Course manager of The Woodbury was very relieved to know that the recent PGA Seniors Tour event at Woodbury Park was a resounding success.


The additional amount of work for the event is phenomenal, particularly by way of additional signage and extra furniture required for the course. All this extra work has to be fitted around our normal maintenance programmes.

However, Ian says it does get a bit easier the more times we do it. By working closely with the clients all the staff get to understand what standards to achieve for the tournament.

Ian has worked at the Woodbury and for Mr Mansell since the course was built 13 years ago we have built a professional relationship where we both know where we want the course to go and, at the same time, continue to maintain the highest standards we both set.

Mr Mansell does not interfere with my management style, he lets me run the course the way I want, so long as it meets his desired expectations.


Woodbury Park is a magnificent championship par 72, 18 hole golf course (The Oaks course) set in 500 acres of stunning tree and lake studded parkland on the edge of the Devonshire Moors near Exeter.

The course also provides a large 9 hole golf facility (The Acorn Course) and full size football pitch, golf driving range, hotel with conference and banqueting centre, and the famous Nigel Mansell Racing Museum. The Greenkeeping staff also maintain Mr Mansell's own garden and grounds which features three full size USGA golf greens.

Ian has a staff of 12 Greenkeepers who are all multi skilled and able to do most of the jobs on the course. woodbury-park-gc-011.jpg

Steve has improved the efficiency and down time of changing and servicing bottom blades by introducing the use of the Mag Knife blade system on all of the triple mowers. Reducing the time to change blades to 20 minutes instead of the previous 1 hour. Regular changing keeps the blades sharp and accurate, thus improving the cut on our tees and greens.

It also saves Steve time when he has to change new blades for older ones for mowing the greens after the top dressing activities.


For the Senior's event the company provide additional back up equipment.

Ian was grateful for the dry weather leading up to the event. He prefers it to be dry so that he is in complete control of the grass growth on the course. They have a full course valve-in-head irrigation system on greens, aprons, tees and fairways, allowing total control of the course's water requirements. Ian has a fully computerised GPS radio linked irrigation system that allows Him, via a palm top computer, to switch on any individual sprinkler at any one time.

The worst thing Ian needs before a major tournament is rain, it prevents him having control over the speed and growth of the greens fairways and tees.

The irrigation system is fed by a series of lakes and reservoirs built into the course. However they have only have an extraction licence to pull off 18,000 m3 per year from these lakes. and a extra extraction licence to pull a further 10,000 m3 from the bore holes on the course.

The irrigation system is designed to deliver, when set at maximum output (100%), the following rates:-

  • 25 mm a week for greens

  • 18 mm a week tees

  • 15 mm a week fairways

However, Ian rarely has to do this. He only waters as necessary, in the main it is usually targeting specific dry spots.

The mowing regimes at Woodbury Park consist of the following:-

Site Mower Type Height of Cut
Winter Summer Tour
Greens Jacobsen Greens king 6 Triple Cylinder 5mm 4mm 3mm
Tees Greens King 6 and 22" pgm Pedestrian cylinder 15mm 10mm 10mm
Fairways Jacobsen LS3800 Multi Gang Cylinder 22mm 17mm 15mm
Semi Rough Jacobsen AR250 Rotary 35mm 35mm 35mm
Rough Jacobsen 90/16 Rotary 50mm 50mm 50mm

The greens are mowed daily, a total of 2.2 hectares. with the aim to reduce the mowing height to 3 mm for the Senior's event keeping it at this height for two weeks. As soon as the event has finished, the height is returned to 4 mm to prevent the sward from becoming stressed.

Ian takes stimpmeter readings to keep an eye on the speed of our greens, which are usually running about 9 feet during the summer. However, the weather and growth on the greens will dictate the speed registered at any given time. Greens speed during this years seniors tour were measured at 11.5 plenty fast enough for greens at Woodbury Park.

They achieved these speeds by the increased inputs of mowing and green preparations prior to and during the event, They increased the frequency of cutting to twice daily. The staff came in at 0500 hours and begin the course preparation, mowing all greens morning and night, cutting two ways each time and following up with a rolling programme using the triples fitted with roller units.

Every day during the event, theyl cut all the greens, aprons, tees and fairways twice a day. It usually takes the team about 3 hours to complete each cutting cycle.woodbury-park-5-view.jpg

The morning stint is completed about 0800 hrs, the staff then remain on site all day, being ready to undertake any unforeseen works required. All the staff are issued with radios for communication purposes, so staff are in full control and ready to operate when and if required. Once the last player has finished the team go out and re-mow and tidy the course. This will include repairing divots and raking all 46 bunkers.


The holes are changed daily for the Senior's event with the Tour committee marking out where the pin positions should be. The holes are then cut by Simon, Ian's assistant course manager. New flags and cups are bought for the event.

Ian's whole management plan for the course for the year is geared around the Senior's event. He usually sets the dates of the tour in his diary and work's back to plan all the fertiliser, mowing and topdressing regimes.

The feeding programme for the greens involves ongoing cycles of work. Ian usually applies Headland Tricure and a super concentrate seaweed extract every five weeks during the playing season April-September which is backed up with the annual spring, summer and autumn fertiliser feeds.

We apply a fine granular 8-0-0 NPK in the spring, followed by applications of a 13-0-15 NPK in the summer and finally an autumn/winter feed of 4-0-4 with Fe in September.

The tees receive applications of summer 28-3-15 NPK fertiliser during the growing season and the fairways and football pitch get a shot of 30-3-9 to keep them going.

Aeration, scarification and top dressing is an ongoing process, working with the weather. We aim to hollow core once a year, vertidrain twice a year and solid tine every month between September and April. This is complimented with regular grooming and brushing throughout the season as part of the mowing regimes.

The greens are topdressed once a month using a drop spreader, putting on a total of 25 tonnes of material per application on each of the 27 greens.woodbury-park-7-view-2.jpg

The Senior's event certainly focuses the mind when looking at the overall picture. Ian does not just pay attention to the greens, he expects and works hard at getting all aspects of the course looking its best. It is all about inputs, what you can achieve in the working day. He's staff work very hard and enjoy the challenges they face at Woodbury, knowing full well that Ian and Nigel Mansell expects all parts of the course to be prepared to the highest standard.

It is these high standards that make Woodbury Park one of the best courses in Devon.

Woodbury Park Hotel, Golf & Country Club Ltd
Woodbury Castle,

Telephone 01395 233382

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