Salsco first choice at Minchinhampton
When you play your golf at Minchinhampton in the Cotswolds you can take your pick from three very different courses run by one club. There’s the charm of the Old Course, which is steeped in 133 years of history and takes you across a common that is also an SSSI and is grazed by cows in summertime. Or you can immerse yourself in one of the two ‘new courses’ nearby – the tree-lined parkland of the 1970s Avening or the inland links of the stunning 1990s Cherington.
But if the courses are div erse then so too are the green keeping techniques employed in each case. On the old course, the regime is light touch and traditional with an absence of irrigation and minimal fertilisers. On the new courses, the latest available aids are employed, including a new Salsco HP-11 III roller from Lister Wilder at nearby Cirencester.
The arrival of the Salsco marks a belief that even apparent perfection in a playing surface can be made better still. It demonstrates a determination to achieve consistently high performance for everyday play as well as for tournaments or the level of regional Open qualifiers that will take place there in June.
As Salsco’s UK importer, Lister Wilder is seeing lots of interest in the latest HP11-III model with its 73-inch armoury of three driven rolls. Each oscillates to apply 100% roll-to-ground contact, following the green contours and smoothing the surface without changing it. It achieves an 11 mph ground speed and its traction on slopes and banks is exceptional in wet or dry conditions.
For Minchinhampton’s Courses Manager, Adam Matthews, the new roller is a fundamental. “We wanted consistent greens performance,” he says. “I am a great believer in producing enjoyable playing surfaces year-round regardless of our events. The Salsco now helps us maintain 2.5 hectares of greens surface and it ticks all the boxes.
“It is not only comfortable and easy to operate, it’s also a good size and the speed-to-weight distribution is excellent. It also allow us to roll the greens much more quickly and is proving to be highly reliable.”
“The brushes are excellent because they don’t allow any debris or sand to be left on the surface – the rollers stay nice and clean. We use it two to three times a week in the main May to September season but also to a lesser extent in winter period, which is fine because its impact on the soil profile isn’t too dramatic.”
The advice on its acquisition came from Ian Davies, Area Sales Manager with Lister Wilder. “I really value his input, honesty and integrity,” says Adam. “Ian always gives me straightforward advice based on knowledge of what we need rather than what he wants to sell.”
Adam’s pride in the 54 holes that he manages at Minchinhampton is very evident and he relishes the huge variation in characteristics between the courses. “We aspire to offer our members three very different experiences,” he says. “When you come here you have choices that you don’t have elsewhere – some play all three courses while others have a preference for one.”
The Old Course goes all the way back to when the club was formed in 1889 when it was donated to the local populace by merchants who had made their fortune out of local wool. Set out across the high plateau that is the local common and enjoying excellent views, it is subject to grazing rights that could see 500 cattle in a summer. Today, it still demands a high level of skill, strength, judgement and indeed patience.
Such has been the success of the original course that, in the early 1970s, there was a need for a second course to cope with demand. Farmland was bought and the Avening was built three miles away with a former barn converted to become its clubhouse. In the 1990s, demand for membership was still strong and more land was purchased for the Cherington.
For Adam, it’s a great place to work at the pinnacle of a career that started more than 20 years ago when he left school aged 16 with little idea what he wanted to do. “I went to college for two years and studied sports turf management and during that time I did work experience here,” he recalls. “When I finished college I was fortunate enough to be offered a full time job here as an assistant greenkeeper, learning pretty well all I know from my predecessor Paul Worcester.”