Southwick Park team wins on drainage
With a glorious lake at it’s heart, Southwick Park is one of the most picturesque of Hampshire’s golf courses. The 18-hole, 6,000-yard course forms a perfect bowl around the lake, which acts as a valuable drainage outlet – and an increasingly successful one as a result of the greenkeeping team’s sterling efforts over recent years.
The fact that Southwick Park is widely rated as one of the south of England’s hidden gems with superb greens is due in no small part to the drainage programme performed in-house by Course Manager Jim Fancey and his team. After six years in the role, Jim says he is very happy with what has been achieved to date.
“There is always more you can do when it comes to drainage but we have have made big progress and the members are very happy with the way the course plays,” he says after a winter in which a lot more work has been completed.
Key to the club’s ongoing programme is a Charterhouse Verti-Drain 7416 sourced from Lister Wilder three years ago. And while it takes care of much of the routine drainage work, the quality of the greens is being further enhanced through the acquisition in recent months of two Baroness LM56 pedestrian cylinder mowers.
Set in the beautiful countryside just north of Portsmouth, the course is a breathtaking place to play your golf – and at just under 6,000 yards, the undulating and interesting par 69 is an enjoyable test for golfers of all ages and abilities. It welcomes both members and visitors alike, with excellent practice and teaching facilities coupled with superb hospitality.
The history of the club goes back to 1970 when the Royal Navy Golfing Society proposed the site as a course. Funding was assembled and work began in 1975 for an opening in 1977. The changes since then have been many, including an enlarged clubhouse. Today, civilian members are as important to the club’s structure as those with a naval background. A members committee works hard to provide an attractive, reasonably priced golf experience.
Jim became Course Manager in 2015, bringing with him 20 years of experience which included 14 years at the nearby Rowlands Castle Golf Club. While resources were limited, he made a priority of a drainage programme as the key to driving the quality of the course forward.
“We knew we needed to do more aeration, top dressing, verticutting and hollow coring,” he says. “I saw it as a must because the underlying soil has a lot of heavy clay and the course sits in a bowl with the lake at its centre. The lake is a real beauty and makes us one of the most picturesque courses in Hampshire, so we have to make the most of it with our course conditions.
“My experience had to come to fruition pretty quickly and with limited resources. We didn’t have a lot of machinery and the team at that time consisted of only four of us (it’s now five). It was a big challenge and I learned a lot in my first 18 months about getting the best from what you have got.”
The greenkeeping team may be small but it showed itself to be highly capable as much of the major work that was needed has been done in-house. While longer term installation of drains in some areas remains a work in progress, verti-draining the fairways twice a year along with the greens, tees and approaches is now fundamental and the Charterhouse Verti-Drain 7416 is, says Jim, “superb”.
A lover of Baroness grass cutting machinery, there could be only one choice when the resources became available to invest in two pedestrian greens mowers. “I have used the LM56 before and they are amazing especially at times when you wouldn’t want to put a triple across the greens,” he says. Yu can’t beat the presentation you get from a hand-cut when you are preparing for a tournament.”
On the tractor front, the club took advantage of Lister Wilder’s Premium Used Machinery selection to purchase an ex-hire Kubota L5040 which has been a real work horse for the drainage trenching work as well as for verti-draining and sand-banding. “The guys really like it because of it’s spacious cab and air conditioning.”
And Lister Wilder? “They are fantastic – I do a lot of the maintenance work myself but they are always there when I need them for breakdowns, parts or servicing. They communicate well and respond quickly,”