Beaconsfield Golf Club
Seer Green, Beaconsfield
Bucks, HP9 2UR
Beaconsfield Golf Club
Seer Green, Beaconsfield
Bucks, HP9 2UR
From The Captain
My year as Captain has hardly started so my first contribution to The Niblick has set me thinking.
The unfortunate circumstances that led to my election as Captain are well known and on behalf of every club member, I send David and Jill Booker our very best wishes.
It did mean that, very unusually, I find myself in this position having not served on the board or as Vice-Captain. Whether that turns out to be a disadvantage or not remains to be seen. It does mean that I have to do a fair amount of catching up.
The Captain’s year always starts with the dreaded “drive in” on the Sunday morning following the AGM. The forecast for that Sunday in mid-October was for continual heavy rain and so it turned out. Whilst I was, of course, more than happy to stand on the first tee and get soaked, I really could not ask other people to wander down the fairway putting pegs in the ground where they thought my drive might finish. Instead, I went into the swing studio with Chris and hit a drive on the first at Royal Troon into a howling gale towards a severely uphill fairway. The winner of the bottle of champagne, Alan Knight, was closest to guessing the distance. How far that was, remains a state secret. Thank you to all those that came to the lunch that day, it was much appreciated.
It had been a tiring weekend so on Monday morning I flew to Texas for a week’s golf and played 7 rounds in 7 days! There did seem to be bit of a theme developing because when I arrived it was raining. Very unusual in my experience and a little worrying as an omen for the year. All week we had to keep the buggies on the cart path, which meant carrying an armful of clubs across the fairway to your ball, only to find that the one you needed was back on the buggy. Anyway, it was not too much of a hardship, all things considered. I also had to cope with Texan size food portions, which I managed and British Airways food, which I did not.
My early learning in this new role is that, overnight, I have apparently become an expert on and have full knowledge about everything happening at Beaconsfield Golf Club. I am more than happy to talk to anyone about anything because that is the essence of being Captain but I just ask for your patience while I get up to speed.
I do not come into this year with any particular agenda of change. I have talked to many past captains who confirm that that is likely to be a path to disappointment. I said at the AGM that I will be driven by knowing that people join our club to play golf and enjoy themselves – not necessarily at the same time! If I can contribute in any small way to helping that process then l’ll be pleased with my year. I will be trying to participate in as many sections of the club that I can and to be at the club as often as possible.
I look forward to meeting as many of you as I can in the coming months.
Members will be aware that there has been another course incursion by young motorcyclists, this time in broad daylight late on a Saturday afternoon. They entered the course via a gap in the old fence along the fifth hole, having first broken down the 8ft steel fence erected by the road contractors.
They departed via the main club entrance under the railway bridge. Fortunately no harm was done to the course. The police were notified and on this occasion have been active. They believe they have identified the suspects who live locally.
In the meanwhile the club has been considering appropriate security measures. It is easy to spend a great deal of money in a knee-jerk reaction. The issues are not straight-forward. We have a very large course perimeter, much of it vulnerable to acts of this kind. It is not sensible to spend vast sums on new perimeter fencing. The targeted approach (given that incidents of this kind have been rare) is to identify the gaps most likely to be used by motorcyclists. The pedestrian entrances are fairly well protected by kissing gates and the like. The three most vulnerable points are probably:
1. The main entrance under the railway bridge.
Prior to the latest incident, quotations had already been obtained for a steel gate on the southern side of the railway arch. Further quotations are being sought, including the need for electric cabling and phone contacts. There are, however, several further issues the board needs to consider. Gated entrances to golf clubs are seldom a panacea. Most clubs leave them open during daylight hours because of the difficulties caused by visitors and contractors who do not have the correct code. We do not want to employ someone simply to answer an entry-phone. Members will soon be irate if they are always in a queue to get in or out. We need to be confident that the considerable expenditure is justified and that any new gate and brickwork is in keeping with the club architecture.
2. The western edge of the 5th hole
Emergency repairs to gaps in the fence have already been completed by Stuart Langhorn, but contractors will be engaged to install new fencing along that boundary.
3. The gap in the hedge by the 7th tee
It is proposed to install a wooden farm gate which will normally be locked. It will be opened by Greens staff when needed for shotgun starts etc.
Winter Rule - Embedded Ball
For the winter, we have a Local Rule that allows relief for a ball that is embedded in its own pitch mark anywhere on the course EXCEPT for bunkers and water hazards.
Things to remember:
New Rules of Golf
On January 1st 2019 the New Rules of Golf will be implemented. For those who are interested, there is lots of information available online. If you want a brief overview on the new rules, please click here..... to view a short video from the USGA.
Beaconsfield Golf Club will be arranging some presentations about the new Rules for members.
Handicap Review and Competition Status
The Men's annual handicap review is coming up in Dec/Jan.
If anyone has a request for an adjustment, upwards or downwards, please send an email to email@example.com
A reminder also that you are asked to submit 3 qualifying cards (supplementary and 9 hole cards acceptable) before the end of 2018 in order to continue or gain a competition handicap for 2019. If in doubt of your status or what you have to do please contact the office.
The greens are looking healthy for the time of year, with good colour and showing plenty of disease tolerance. They are still being cut daily at 4 mm but this will reduce once the cold weather arrives and the growth slows. Preventative fungicides will be sprayed every 4 weeks in the build up to Christmas as we try to keep them disease free during this high pressure period with the reducing day light, heavy dews and random high temperatures.
Through November a second hole cup with added again to each green so we can rotate the pin every day to spread wear. This proved extremely successful last year especially during frosty conditions when the ground was too hard to change the holes.
The final phase of the PCD rope drainage will be installed between 29th October and the 2nd November on the 6th, 8th, 12th, 17th and 18th greens. Temporary greens will be in use throughout the week on these five holes with them returning to play as soon as the work has been carried out.
The 4th tees are completed with them being fully reconstructed which involved levelling and realigning the tees with fairway, installing a full new drainage system, new irrigation and landscaping the surrounding banks to disguise the tees on your approach to the 3rd green. The tees are currently being cut at 15mm which we will gradually drop as we fine tune the playing surface with sand.
The 9th fairway bunkers have been rebuilt and we are currently working on the front two bunkers on the 7th. They will be put on hold for the PCD drainage week then will be completed early November ahead of us starting the large bunker to the right of the 7th green.
Dry summer/burn out
Turfing burnt out bunker faces has started on the 9th greenside. The next hole to be completed will be the 5th then we will continue around the course prioritising the worse affected.
The fairways were ‘disc’ over seeded (Cutting a linear line and dropping the seed in behind) with 1000kg’s of fescue/dwarf rye grass seed with great success.
The tees were ‘pot’ seeded (Creating large spike holes and dropping the seed in behind) with 100kg’s of fescue/bent/dwarf rye seed and the approaches ‘disc’ seeded with 200kgs of the same seed. All areas have been fertilised to aid the recovery with any remaining patches to be re-seeded in the spring.
Burnt out rough areas will be scarified over the next month and again in the spring to break up the mat of dead grass on the surface to allow new grass to come through.
Following the resignation of Chris Gotla, the General Manager, members have been asking about any plans for his replacement. The board has given this provisional consideration and decided that there are good reasons for not rushing this process.
A Golf Club Secretary or General Manager traditionally has three main areas of responsibility. The first, and most time consuming, is club house catering. At Beaconsfield we appointed David Jennings as a contractor around 17 years ago. David runs the entire catering operation and manages the bar staff. As you will all appreciate, he does not require much in the way of “management” and now reports to the House Committee. The second area of responsibility is the day-to-day running of the club which involves managing the club diary, societies, competitions and membership issues. Fortunately we have an experienced office team in Katie Free and Liz Smythson who have been accustomed to handling most of this activity without much in the way of supervision. Katie has also been studying for her formal Golf Club Management qualification. It has been decided that Katie and Liz will report to the President for the time being. A third area of responsibility is the green-keeping function. Since the appointment of Stuart Langhorn as Course Manager there has, however, been little need for additional management of this activity. Stuart now reports to the Green Committee and between them they do an excellent job managing the maintenance and improvement of the course which is now the envy of most surrounding clubs. Stuart has decided to increase his skillset by studying formally for a Golf Club Manager’s qualification. Another area of responsibility is the finances. At Beaconsfield we have a tradition of strong Treasurers and in recent years the Treasurer has been very “hands-on” leaving only a very minor role for the General Manager. A final area of responsibility is managing the relationship with the club Professional. At Beaconsfield we are very fortunate to enjoy the services of the extremely competent and ever-loyal Chris Dodds. We also have a very strong board of directors. The President, Captain and Vice-Captain are all accustomed to the management of large and complex organisations. In the short term the board’s view is that we have most bases covered, to use a baseball analogy.
This does not mean that we think the current structure is ideal. At some point David Jennings will retire. As he will be an impossible act to follow, we might then take the opportunity to revert to a traditional structure with catering handled in house. This will certainly necessitate the appointment of a Club Secretary or General Manager who is capable of running the catering as part of the overall brief.
Some members seem to be under the impression that it is easy to find competent Club Secretaries. This is far from the case. When we last advertised the role, Chris Gotla was by a very long measure the most competent candidate. Out of the many applicants, there was only one other who might have made the grade. Those familiar with the local golfing scene will be aware that several other clubs are looking for new Secretaries, having fallen out with the incumbents.
We will keep our eyes open and if we find a suitable candidate we will consider appointing someone on an interim and part-time basis, pending the big change when David Jennings eventually retires.
Wilton Park Development
Members will be aware that South Bucks District Council (SBDC) are undertaking a review on potentially releasing Green Belt land in Beaconsfield for redevelopment. This will potentially form part of the new Local Plan for SBDC. A Local Plan is put together by a Local Planning Authority to provide a guide on decisions on whether planning applications may be granted or not.
The land in question is shown on the illustration below:-
The Board is keeping a close watching brief on this review. As such an Emerging Local Plan could be published around May 2019 when there will be a 6 week consultation period for parties to make representations. The Board will be making appropriate representations on matters that pertain to the Club.
Those members who are interested learning more may care to visit The Beaconsfield Society website - http://www.beaconsfieldnow.org.uk/save-our-green-belt/ where a good deal of information about the proposals are contained and where people can get involved individually should they so wish.
Trophy Roll Of Honour