Interesting stats from Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st July 2013. Can anything be read into this? My opinion is that the course may be playing too difficult at present!
Course Proposed Works/Adjustments.
Further to discussions at the Board Meeting on 8/7/13 the following is proposed to make the course more playable and more pleasant on the eye.
One tree has been removed from the left edge of the fairway and another trimmed back. This is to create a slightly bigger landing area on the left as people naturally try to avoid the out of bounds.
The Hawthorne Bush in front of the 1st green has been removed, this creates a clear visual of the 1st green and flag from the tee. If someone decides to take on the trouble from the tee and hit an excellent straight tee shot of 220 yards they are not unduly punished. It is felt that this will make the first hole of the day a more gentle start to a person’s round.
Interestingly on Saturday there were only two birdies on the 1st hole.
In addition trees to the left of green have been trimmed to create more playability.
Pruning of Trees in front of Medal Tee to create a clear visual of the fairway, this also allows players to clearly see if they are in the hazard or not!
Balls have more chance of getting through the trees with less lost balls and probably no more need to deem a ball unplayable.
We would also like to trim back the trees on right of medal tee and pond.
Trees in front of Ladies tee to be pruned, this will create a clear visual of the fairway and once again prevent lost and unplayable’s.
Moving forward we would like to consider extending the out of bounds to the right, incorporating the trees but clearing the base so balls can easily be found and chipped back in play. This will reduce 3 of the tees and NR’s.
The trees to the left of the tee to be pruned to create more visual of fairway and an easier tee shot.
We intend to do further work/adjustments to all of the holes over the next few months. All of the decisions will be discussed at Board level and approved by them. We are currently preparing a tree strategy for future works and this document will be available to all members to view in due course.
The rational behind this work is fairly simple. The course has grown up and developed over recent years. No significant tree works have been done for many years (except adding them) and the course is now very claustrophobic/inaccessible/unplayable in places where it didn't use to be, or in fact as it was initially designed. These areas which have grown (further than originally intended) need to be manicured/adapted/controlled/shaped to fit their purpose. Whilst we appreciate that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" we must also take into consideration playability. Many members and visitors have commented on how wonderful our course is. They always state that the greens are exceptional. Comments always relate to aesthetics. I have heard very few if any comments made regarding how playable it is. The comment is usually "The course is fabulous but my golf was very poor!" It is my belief that the course is too difficult! It is too tight! It has too many OOB's and long par 4's which can ruin a card. It is only getting more difficult as the years go on as the trees and bushes mature. The question must be how do we attract new members to a course which is so difficult, Few players will come to Ryton on the basis of aesthetics!
We have many holes where RGC's beauty is "masked" in some way. I give as my example that of the 4th hole. From the white tee we see a bush and trees in front of us, huge trees and rough down the left and OOB tight down the right. Where do i aim? Many holes have the same problem, "vision"!
Recently 108 Cat 1 players played RGC in a County qualifier. The best score on the day was 71. 81 was the qualifying score for the final at Seaton Carew. One player off 3 shot a 93! What will be their comments about RGC when they talk about us. Will it be good press or bad press? How will those player portray RGC? I am sure they will all say that "the greens were good", however I am not so sure they will say "that's the place to join!"
In the present climate where clubs are loosing members hand over fist, (eg Beamish 120) we need to consider how we can attract people to join us. Members are the lifeblood of a golf course. Without attracting new ones and keeping the ones we already have then we will become extinct. Sentiment generally has very little to do with survival in a supply and demand market. Many player join clubs because they want a change of scenery, admittedly, but usually want to play better golf, see there handicaps fall and have a great experience. I would hazard a guess that it would not be to see a downturn in their games but play on a beautiful course. We therefore need to ensure the balance between "beauty and beast".
I understand this is a very emotive subject. From 400 members there will be 400 different views of what should be done. It is the job of the Board to listen to opinion and draw conclusions for themselves during board meetings. Nothing would get done if decisions were not made. I as do all of the board think very hard over each and every decision and as elected chair i find this a heavy weight. I understand history and tradition are important but I also see that the climate is completely different now and know that we must strive to build our membership in any way we can. We must make some changes! Simple! I personally would like to make the course easier. Not at the cost of beauty but by beautifying it further.
Some minor changes have been and are being made on the course. We hope they are to everyones satisfaction. The 1st has had a little pruning done and a couple of "obstacles" removed. It always has been a 5 iron wedge and is of course Stroke Index 14, so it needs to "act its difficulty". See what you think! I am sure i will get to hear from members their thoughts and feelings.
The 14th has had a makeover too. We are creating a new winter tee box so that we can hit off some decent turf throughout the winter months. We have "pruned" the hedges next to the road to give a little more of a view of the hole. This has had an affect on the view from the 15th tee box too! My opinion is that we need to be able to see and hit fairways. Our course is so beautiful it is a shame not to be able to view the beauty from tee boxes.
The 11th and 12th tees have had a little pruning too. Both now feel a little more open and airy. Much less claustrophobic I think.
We are letting the rough grow up and wispy in certain areas as you will have noticed to add more definition to the course. I feel this makes a great deal of sense and aesthetically it really adds to the course.
We do not have as yet a "Tree Policy" but we do know that they have grown up massively over the last few years and need some serious attention. We have made a start! Much thanks must go to Ciaran Glyde of Glyde Golf who is (you may or may not know) a qualified tree surgeon! With his steer and talents we want to sculpt the course a little.
I think that the tweaks to the course should come slowly to see what members think and see how it effects the playability of the course. Communication about these efforts are very important to me. So please tell me (good or bad). I hope good of course!
The art of changes in my opinion is that they should be almost imperceptible. If you don't spot the changes then that is a good thing!
Well another very interesting month has passed at "lil ole Royal Ryton". Things are simply getting better and better.
The course is in absolutely staggering condition at present. Today I went "walkabout" with Michael Rutter Sec/Man and took in the true beauty of it without hitting a ball. Its so interesting to just look at the layout. We noted many things that we felt were ideas for the future to further enhance the look of the place.
We met with the bank manager today! He seemed very happy with the accounts and the direction in which the club is moving financially. We are presently reviewing the clubs account with his help and advice and we hope to make a few changes in the way we are operating based on our current position. I can say no more at present but hope that the future may hold some exciting news (all being well).
The club strategy provoked some interesting responses/comments. I look forward to talking to more members to get feedback. I am very happy with it and proud of the efforts of the board to get to this position. Now we need to act! Gradually you will see some changes which we hope you will approve of and enjoy.