Woodbury Park Hotel, Golf and Country Club
By Laurence Gale
Woodbury Park Hotel and Country club is a 27-hole golf complex set in 500 acres accommodating 700 golfing members. The complex consists of The Oaks, an 18-hole championship course, and The Acorns, a 9-hole golf course. The hotel complex has 57 bedrooms and provides a state of the art conferencing centre and sport
Woodbury Park also boasts additional facilities providing the Nigel Mansell World of Racing Exhibition. The exhibition comprises every trophy Nigel won and a huge amount of memorabilia collected during his racing career, including his Williams and Ferrari F1 cars. The Exhibition is open to the public with proceeds from the £3.50 entrance fee being donated to Dream Away and Youth UK, two charities set up by Nigel Mansell. The site also offers a full size premier standard football pitch, used for off season training by such teams as Everton, Fulham, Southampton, Newcastle, Charlton and Portsmouth to name a few.
Woodbury Park is owned by Nigel Mansell, the 1992 World Formula One Racing Champion, who lives and runs his concerns from Woodbury Park. Nigel has even got his own private golf course in the grounds, which is maintained at the same standard as the two main courses at Woodbury. The courses were constructed in 1989 and designed by Hamilton Stutt. The greens are built to USGA specifications and were sown with a traditional grass seed mixture of fescues and bent grasses.
The Oaks course has an American parkland feel about it, having large contoured greens. The greens areas for both courses totals 2.4 Hectares with seven lakes on The Oaks course. The Woodbury has held three European Tours (PQ1, s), The Gary Player Classic, The Dream Away, UK Youth Tournament and last year hosted the Seniors European Tour. Such was the success of the tournament and the quality of the course that the Woodbury has been asked to support the tour again this year.
The Course Manager at the Woodbury is Ian Chenery who has been at the course for 11 years. Ian previously worked as a gardener when he left school for EDDC and then as a Groundsman for the local county council looking after the football and athletics tracks in the schools. Ian started as assistant Geenkeeper at Woodbury Park when he was 21 and worked is way up to Head Greenkeeper on the 9 hole Acorns course. He then worked as assistant course manager for the estate and finally to Course Manager at 32. Ian is currently studying a Masters Degree at Cranfield University whilst previously obtaining NVQ levels 2 and 3 and a High National Diploma (HND) in golf course management. Ian also holds current spraying and chain saw qualifications and keeps himself updated by attending regular industry seminars and training courses.
Ian Manages 14 members of staff who are also industry trained:
- Three holding HND in Golf course management obtained at Cannington College Somerset.
- Four staff qualified at NVQ level 3.
- Five of the staff hold spraying Certificates PA 1, 2 and 6.
- Five staff qualified in chainsaw operation.
- Two mechanics, one qualified and the other currently being trained as an apprentice mechanic.
- Two men cutting greens using kings 6 triple greens machines with groomers and roller brushes.
- One man cuts the tees using a 9 bladed Kings 6 triple mower.
- Two men cutting the fairways on both courses using Jacobsen LF3800's with roller brushes.
- One man using a Jacobsen AR250 cuts the semi rough, and cuts the rough using a Jacobsen 9016.
- Bunkers are raked daily by two men and are fly mowed and edged once a week.
- Holes are changed three times per week.
- Buggy path edges are cut once a fortnight.
- All greens are top dressed weekly.
- All strimming and hedge cutting and other maintenance works are completed in the afternoons.
Fairways, tees and semi rough grass areas on both courses are sprayed with selective weed control chemicals at the start of the season, usually in April. Fertilising programmes see the fairways being fed with a slow release fertiliser applied twice a season. Greens and tees are fertilised using straight fertilisers with various NPK formulations depending on the time of the year. The whole fertiliser programme at the Woodbury is geared around the European Tour and worked forward and backwards from the date of the tour.
Ian runs a fleet of Jacobsen machinery, which is leased on a four-year contract. The Courses' irrigation system was upgraded two years ago by Ocmis, an irrigation specialist who installed a new controlling system. Ian now runs a Rainbird Nimbus 2 system with hand held Compaq / freedom pad technology. The course is wall-to-wall irrigation with Rainbird 700 series sprinklers installed on greens, green approaches and fairways, with Rainbird 5000 series on the tees. The football pitch irrigation sprinklers are Rainbird 950s with turf tops.
The sprinklers are set up to deliver a maximum output of water per facility:
- Greens 25mm per week.
- Tees 18mm per week.
- Fairways 15mm per week.
The irrigation system is designed to be able to deliver a maximum of 554 cubic metres of water per day to all greens tees and fairways, something, however,that Ian has never had to do to date. Ian has extraction licences to extract 10,000 cubic metres from the lakes and 8,000 cubic metres from the course borehole to fulfil the water storage capacity of the system. Ian also has a reserve budget to obtain 10,000 cubic metres from
For the European Tour last year Ian stopped watering the greens 4 days before the tour to help dry them out, increasing the speed of the greens. Ian was able to achieve a stimpmeter reading of 12 for the 3 days of the tour. The average stimpmeter reading for the course is usually about 9.
Ian's main worry is the same as most, the weather. He said "We were lucky during the European Tour that the weather stayed dry and enabled us to have complete control of the moisture on the greens, effectively ensuring that they remained true and fast".
The Seniors Tour organisers Michael Haarer and Andy Stubbs stated that the greens at Woodbury had been the best of the year to date, and were very happy with the attendance, especially the last day of the tournament when over 3,000 people turned up to see the final day's play.
Woodbury Park Hotel, Golf and Country Club, Woodbury Castle, Woodbury, Exeter, Devon EX5 JJ.