Woodhall Spa Goes to Town to Safeguard Home of English Golf

. minute read

As the club’s three-year, three-stage restoration project designed to give the Lincolnshire course back its rightful heathland landscape and original character concludes, the focus is now on the quality of the playing surfaces. Hence the latest, significant investment in Toro and Reesink Turfcare. 

Course manager Sam Rhodes says: “We have so much confidence in Toro. Having Toro on board during the renovations meant there was one less big thing to worry about. There was too much to do as it was, so knowing the maintenance, and irrigation, of the courses was in safe hands was invaluable. And now as the main restoration work is finished, we’re going to town on the quality of the playing surfaces.”

Richard Latham, general manager, explains the reason for the renovation: “It’s accepted that the course found itself in this position because of over 50 years of woodland mismanagement and neglect. Woodhall Spa was fast falling down in the world rankings. It was time to act and safeguard the future of the course.”

A phone call from Richard was all it took to secure the services of Tom Doak, one of the true greats of modern golf course architecture, for the redesign of the home of the governing body of England Golf. One of the biggest changes was the introduction of bigger greens, now 4,000sqm larger, which takes the greenkeeping team an extra two hours to mow every morning, ably assisted by Toro. 

Sam says: “We’ve long been a Toro Total Solutions customer and we wanted a full fleet refresh to make sure we were benefitting from the latest technological advancements and to ensure we are ready for the next all-important phase in the course’s future. We’re already seeing the impact of the new design of the cylinder cutting unit of the Reelmaster 5010-H, it’s freeing a man up.”  

The new fleet is comprehensive including greens, tees and fairways mowers, aerators, top dressers and bunker rakes. Sam has included hybrid technology in the form of three Reelmaster 5010-H fairway mowers and two all-electric Workman GTXe utility vehicles, and during the renovations the Toro Lynx central control irrigation system and 170 Infinity sprinklers on the greens, tees and surrounds was extended to the fairways covering the Hotchkin and Bracken courses.

Richard says: “We don’t have much water where we are, so we have to be frugal in how much we apply. The installation of the system has allowed us to be entirely accurate and conserve our usage. It also allowed us to avoid damage in the drought of 2018 – we lost the colour but kept the coverage. To have extended the irrigation system to the fairways now means we have complete Toro protection.”

Both Richard and Sam agree this project has been game-changing, Richard says: “To say we have successfully completed the biggest in-house project the country has seen is quite the achievement. Our members are playing a far more strategic game, reminiscent of how it used to be when golf was first played here in 1905. We’ve successfully put all the holes back together again ourselves and we’re moving up in the rankings. We’ve achieved what we set out to do.”

And now as the team embarks on the next phase in the club’s life, Richard considers what happens next. “Now we have the rightful landscape back, playing fantastically, our focus is on ensuring that lasts, and with the combination of Sam, the team and Toro on board we know that’s a realistic ambition.”