Cleobury Mortimer Golf Club
- Golf course architecture
- Sports surface design
- Drainage modelling
- Golf construction
- Drainage construction
- Construction monitoring
- Site assessment
- Agronomic services
Cleobury Mortimer is a thriving, proprietary owned 27 hole parkland golf course situated in picturesque Shropshire countryside between Kidderminster and Ludlow. The original 9-hole Deer Park course was built in 1993 before 18 additional holes being developed across two phases in 1996 (Badgers Sett course) and 1998 (Foxes Run course).
The course development programme at Cleobury Mortimer was led by the club operation managers, Tom and David Pain, on the foundations of the hard work of Robert and Graham Pain who built the club into what you see today.
STRI Head of Agronomy Paul Woodham explains, ‘It was Graham and Robert that paved the way for a review of the course conditions. Their desire to take the club to the next level is clear to see and both knowing the land and the industry so well, they agreed the need to strengthen the drainage systems across the courses. Golf courses are seeing the impact of climate change pressures with longer periods of wet conditions and the challenge of managing courses with increased constraints limiting the use of pesticides. Addressing the issue of drainage is a pressing requirement for so many courses but where to start’.
STRI has a long history supporting the club through times of development, a recent example of which being an agronomic audit that detailed the requirements for continuous improvement as the club invests in the future under new ownership.
The club’s aspirations were to secure the year-round playability of the courses as an initial phase of development throughout the club, something that they had previously not been able to achieve due to an outdated drainage system identified by STRI’s agronomy department that had struggled to stand the test of time and had been overwhelmed by course usage and the effects of climate change. As a result, the drainage became the immediate priority for the golf club as they realised that the project was much more demanding than their own time and equipment resources could manage, with the solution being a fully comprehensive and bespoke drainage design for the whole course rather than identifying typically wet areas on the course and spot-fixing those. Paul Woodham, STRI’s Head of Agronomy, explains “all too often clubs see a solution of installing localised drainage and missing the point of intercepting the runoff and lateral groundwater flows which are the cause of problems. Tapping into old drains has its limitations as many become overloaded or have or outfalls which could add to water management problems off site”.
The fairway drainage and greens drainage had 2 separate and very different demands, with fairway drainage being a much wider operation. The project spanned 7 fairways in full with topographical surveying informing STRI’s design team of the layout and design of compliant filtered outfalls, check dams in ditch systems contributing to sustainable and responsible drainage systems. The design would need to be intensive across this course especially though some of the more secluded areas where winter playability is often challenged.
Given the scale of the project, it was imperative to identify a contractor with a suitable inventory of equipment and expertise to be able to successfully deliver the solution to the agreed specification and standard that the golf course and STRI demanded. Subsequently, Carrick Sports were trusted with the task and were commissioned to begin construction and installation of the drainage.
Project manager Toby Grace said “We like to pride ourselves on having a very experienced team with a ‘can do’ attitude. Coupled with the continuous investment in the latest equipment & technology. It was also great for us to be able to work ‘hand in hand’ with the design & agronomy teams at STRI.”
Club manager Tom Pain goes on to say “having the right equipment and skilled operatives has been essential especially with keeping the works on track. The installation of drainage is neat and tidy especially with the shaping up of the spoil into new mounding and course features”.
The agronomy audit set out clear goals for improvements and the sequence of actions needed to forge a plan and achieve the goals. The report highlighted the need for drainage in addition to potential future redesign of bunkers, cart paths and other areas where design improvements can be made. Following this, STRI’s team utilised the information in the audit report and included a review of course design from a leading course architect before a design masterplan was reviewed by STRI and the club, that then aided in the development of a phased plan to meet course management and playability requirements.
Design of drainage layout and pipe sizing needed to be decided upon and finalised before the selection of contractors commenced, due to the necessity to know demands of the project and which potential contractors could meet those demands.
The drainage project was broken down into two phases commencing with Foxes Run and Badgers Sett where green drainage design options were presented, with agreement to install PCD (passive capillary drainage) to be installed to 19 greens over a 4-week, with works monitored by STRI.
Following this, work on both the green and fairway drainage installation commenced mid-May with weekly monitoring visits conducted by STRI agronomy reporting back to the club management team documenting progress and any additional instructions for the contractors. The drainage design installed over 12,000 meters of piped drains and network of outfalls with all spoil being used to shape new mounding which would complement the design of the courses.
The success of the installation then inspired the club to press ahead with the more challenging phase of works across Deer Park where PCD drainage was installed during a two-week period commencing mid-September. Fairway drainage covers 8 of the 9 holes across Deer Park installing 13,000 meters of pipe and 200 meters of ditching. Work would also be extending into the autumn months and inevitably encountering softer ground conditions so the care and attention of the Carrick Sports team would be critical and frequently monitored by STRI.
- Drainage is already making an impact and is designed to be added to with secondary drainage as and where needed for future maintenance.
- Rotation of construction works resulted in minimal disruption of the course
- Members and visiting golfers are incredibly pleased with the works
- Existing strong relationship between STRI and Carrick Sports (part of STRI group) meant smooth communication and therefore no delays while conflicts were resolved between the parties
- Work on green drainage was completed as planned within 4 weeks and the fairway work finished by the start of July.
- The success of the drainage work has been well received by the clubs’ members and visitors
- The success of this project has inspired the club to commence with further to development in order to futureproof the course, with Tom Pain explaining: “This is just the beginning and other projects are already in the early stages of planning such as the reconstruction of bunkers, linking new bunker drainage into the new network of drains around the courses and improving the design to protect the bunkers from wash out contamination of the sand and improve the course design, aesthetics and playability. Our members and guests are delighted with the work to date’. Dave Pain adds ‘There has been significant investment during Phase I and II works alone, having the project plans and work monitored by STRI has taken the pressure off with regular reports feeding into our weekly meetings with the owner and providing all of the answers for our members.”
Golf Course 2030
The Springs Golf Club STRI was engaged by The Springs in 2020 to create an inventive solution to reduce water usage on the course. The golf club had recently been purchased by Darwin Escapes who began a significant investment plan across the entirety of the golf club, with the course itself being the first beneficiary.
Harrogate Town A.F.C. The excitement of a potential long-awaited promotion to League 2 was met with a realisation that there’d be some big changes needed at the club to conform to EFL rules should they achieve it – one of which being that their synthetic home pitch would need to be replaced with a natural turf pitch.
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