Nestled in the heart of the Cotswolds, Shipton Golf Course is a 2487 yard, par 35, nine-hole pay-and-play course that opened in 1995.
The person charged with keeping the playing surfaces in tip top condition is greenkeeper Andy Lord who has certainly had his work cut out since taking over his post in March 2013, thanks to the extreme weather conditions – the coldest Spring for 50 years followed by a scorching Summer and challenging Autumn.
A greenkeeper since 2004, Andy has also worked at Tewkesbury Park, Patshull Park and Gloucester Golf Club.
“When I came to Shipton I was given a blank canvas to do whatever was needed,” said Andy.
His list of tasks included increasing the size of the greens; improving the green surface profile and speed; boosting the size and shape of fairways; introducing different lengths of roughs to give a better definition; and enhancing the drainage on the greens.
“There was a great deal of thatch build-up in the greens profile,” he commented. “This year the priority has been to remove as much as possible to give a better root system and better coverage.”
He is quick to point out that one of the key factors in the success of what he is doing at Shipton is his choice of grass seed – BAR Fescue from Barenbrug. This is a 50:50 blend of chewings and slender creeping red fescues offering germination in cooler temperatures, excellent shoot density and both disease and drought tolerance.
“I was familiar with Barenbrug products from my previous job and trusted the brand, and you also know you will get all seed and no waste,” said Andy.
“BAR Fescue has superb disease tolerance. Even though the conditions this year have been perfect for disease, I have only had to spray once for fusarium.”
Being located within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty means the course has plenty of wildlife and nature to consider, particularly when spraying chemicals.
The heatwave during the summer meant the course was very popular, hosting about 100 golfers a day – and even 130 on one particularly busy day with the resultant wear and tear!
Andy added: “Our recent over seeding programme has gone very well – the new seed has integrated well with the established grass. The bigger patches are filling out better now during the Autumn as conditions have been perfect. I am really pleased with the results.
“We highly rate Barenbrug products and would not consider using any other brand – it ticks all our boxes.
“All our greenkeeping products are purchased through Avoncrop – where we have an excellent relationship with Andy Moon, Technical Sales Manager.”
Most of the work is done by Andy Lord himself, but he can call on casual labour if required.
In the long term, Andy plans to continue with the course improvements and bring more customers in; update machinery to ensure maximum course presentation; and plant wildflowers in the rough.
Shipton Golf Course www.shiptongolf.co.uk
Barenbrug UK www.barenbrug.co.uk