Situated in the heart of the Northumberland countryside, just north of Morpeth, is Longhirst Golf Club where its 36 holes become three different expansive ‘Florida style’ courses throughout the year!
From 1 April to 31 October, there are two courses in action, the Lakes Course and the Dawson course. In the winter there is the 18 hole Old Course which was built with paths for golf buggies and gives the opportunity to rest the other holes, while giving members and guests three different layouts throughout the year. All have rolling fairways, with lakes and water courses to test golfers’ skill and offer superb views across the rolling countryside.
For the fourth year in a row Longhirst will be hosting a EuroPro event this summer. It was Director of Golf Graham Chambers’ idea to try and make the club a venue for the Tour which he accomplished very successfully!
Graham has been at the club since its construction in 1996; he and his team of eight greenkeeping staff and a mechanic are charged with keeping the courses in first class condition 365 days a year.
“The number of people playing the course has increased considerably over the past few years,” said Graham. “There is also a lot more golf being shown on television these days which has increased people’s perceptions of how things ‘should’ be on a golf course, so we have to do our best while keeping within budgets.”
About three years ago Graham was faced with a problem of scarring on greens due to an irrigation issue and was introduced to Dr David Greenshields from top seed producer Barenbrug by local supplier Turfcare Specialists Ltd who Graham had successfully dealt with for many years.
“David suggested we should use BAR ALL BENT which he assured us would do the trick, although highly sceptical I agreed to give it a try,” said Graham.
BAR ALL BENT is a 50/50 mix of Barking, with superior wear tolerance and winter performance, and Heriot which is extremely fine leafed and has an excellent summer performance. It provides excellent colour throughout the year and can tolerate mowing down to 3mm.
“Before our eyes in a short period of time we had very good coverage, so we did the same on other greens with the same superb results and we were converted,” added Graham.
“We also purchased a Graden machine last year which enabled us to seed right into the lines and has given us great results and surfaces which has totally transformed all our greens.”
The success of BAR ALL BENT now means that only Barenbrug seeds are used at Longhirst Golf Club which also includes BAR EXTREME and the recently launched EXTREME RPR, standing for regenerating perennial ryegrass.
BAR EXTREME is a top performing perennial ryegrass ideal for renovation and construction of heavy wear greens and surrounds.
EXTREME RPR gives a very dense sward and has the cultivar Barclay II. Key to its success is that it produces determinate stolons as it develops and grows. These enable the RPR plants to spread into the surrounding area, for instance to fill in any gaps in the sward caused by wear damage. RPR can literally regenerate itself giving an entirely new dimension to perennial ryegrass used in high traffic areas on the golf course.
So what comments has Graham been getting about the course from golfers?
“You know, golfers are golfers and if they play well the course is great, if they have a bad round then it’s not so good,” said Graham. “Generally though the comments are very positive and we pride ourselves on giving the best playing conditions possible throughout the year.”
Longhirst Golf Club www.longhirstgolf.co.uk