The Golf Course




Just a short update this time as it’s been hard to find the time to sit in the office with everything going on out on the course. Due to the length of time the project was delayed we had to modify some of the plans of action. The intention as stated last update was to use cores again to establish the short game green and to build the new range tee. In the end it was decided to seed the new chipping green due to not wanting to cause any further disruption to the greens with hollow coring so far into the season with opens and matches following thick and fast. It will mean that the green will be slower to establish and have a surface that has a different make up to the other greens. In time however it will resemble the others out on the course. The practice range tee will now be built later on in the season which will allow the old 17th to be played from it’s full distance in the meantime.


MJ Abbotts have now completely finished their work, it looks fantastic. It made such a difference to have an established golf course construction do the work as the quality of finish is top notch.


It now falls to us to grow it all in. Typically there has been little to no rain lately, which would really help the cause of growing grass. Sprinklers are no substitution for the stuff from the sky. Abbotts put in new irrigation for the 2 new greens and 2 new tees, which really highlighted to me just how poorly installed our system was when it was put in in 2002/3. Just look at the difference between valve boxes


    Abbotts nicely clipped up with metal fittings and a concrete base.


 The installation from 2002, soil floor, wires everywhere.


Our irrigation system is feed by water from our ponds, there is a pump by the right of the 1st green that transfers water from the ponds up to a holding tank situated left of the old 6th fairway. From there 2 pumps pump water around the course to tees, approaches and greens.


At each head or station there is a decoder, they are the little red and white things in the first picture. Each one is programmed to be unique. From my PC I can set which sprinklers I want to come on and for how long. A signal then goes down the cable which only the appropriate decoder recognises and thus then turns on that sprinkler. However, when we start up the system again after the winter there will be various faults that crop up. 90% of the time these are electrical. If a decoder fails then it can prevent a sprinkler working or worse than that it can think it’s their sprinkler that I want to turn on when it’s not. Random heads will come on and stay on for the duration of a program which can be hours across the course. Not only is that a big loss of water but it can cause damage from waterlogging and washing out nearby bunkers. I’ve had a few phone lately asking if certain sprinklers should be on which have decided to pop up expectedly. It’s an area that does need some investment to correct.


Things are certainly happening around the club to smarten things up, the new carpet and furniture is looking great, Jimmy is on the case to repaint the railings and walls around the balcony and putting green and once the 18th is fully grown in it will be fantastic viewing for societies and matches to see the entire hole played out and a grandstand finish. We’ve got a few things to do around the 1st tee and clubhouse to tidy it up too. What we have put out is a new ball washer that a friend of mine from Montana USA made especially as a gift to me and the club. At his course in Montana he is under snow for 3-4 months each winter so decorates and refurbishes ball washers for a hobby.




On our list of things to do are refurb the practice nets, look to re-site the clean off area and increase access from the 18th green off the course. They won’t happen overnight but they will be sorted in due course.


The 18th will be in play for Riviera week in a couple of week’s time, albeit with drop zones from the areas not ready for play yet.


That’s it for now


Jason Brooks


Course Manager  




There’s been plenty of progress out on the course since the last update both on our side of things and with MJ Abbott. The growth explosion that I mentioned in the last update certainly happened. All the moisture coupled with an increase in temperature really made the grass grow. It’s been a struggle to keep on top of it, and it will take a while before the clippings become less of an issue. It’s pretty messy out there due to the clippings that stick to shoes and trolley wheels. I was asked why we can’t pick up the clippings as we go when cutting the fairways. The simple answer is resources; to cut fairways it takes one person on our one fairway mower roughly 6 hours depending upon how busy the course is. Due to how much growth there is we’ll do it twice a week at the moment.  It’ll be only high end golf courses that can collect clippings when they cut fairways due to the cost of staffing that job. For example when I cut fairways at TPC Scottsdale there were 5 people on 5 machines cutting the fairways, it took 5 hours to cut the fairways plus we had 2 people going behind us collecting the piles of clippings that we stacked up. This took 5 hours x 7 people so a total of 35 hours. So hopefully that explains why we can’t collect fairway clippings.

What we can do is use a growth regulator chemical to control the growth. All growing season it is used on the greens to control vertical growth, and at times it is also used on tees and fairways. It specifically targets the gibberellic acid site responsible for cell elongation in grass. So rather than the plant using energy to grow taller it transfers the energy into root production and density which in turn means there’s less grass to cut. For the greens it’s a great tool to help maintain speeds and quality of surface later in the day. Without it the growth throughout the day will mean slower bumpier greens for the players playing in the latter part of the day.

Winter rules has now reverted back to placing on the fairway rather than everywhere as the course has dried up sufficiently. This means qualifiers can be held for handicap purposes.


Since the last update all the work up the hill has been completed and seeded. Many thanks to all the volunteers that came out to help collect the cores from the greens last week. They  have been used to establish the new 8th green. It was a great help, there is already a green tinge to the green. The surrounds were seeded and then sprayed with mulch that will help retain moisture and speed up germination.


The existing 8th green is now back in play and being played as a par 3 from the side of what will be the new 9th tee. Basically it is a preview of the new 9th hole, feedback has been positive from players of this downhill par 3 and what they have seen now of the new 8th green and surrounds.

The 18th green surrounds and ditch have been completed, in the end the architect decided that 3 bunkers was just too cluttered so decided to remove the front right bunker and have 2 bunkers in total. It looks to be a very attractive hole with a clear separation from the 1st hole. It should make for good viewing from the balcony.

The finishing team will be back next week to begin to seed and mulch the workings.

Currently the tee and short game area are being constructed and it is expected to be completed by Monday weather permitting. Again the finishing team will come behind to seed and mulch. The new practice green will be established with cores from the remaining unhollow cored greens. So in due course we will be looking to seek volunteers again to help this process. The 18th tee will be turfed, this will allow for use much quicker than a seeded tee.

The last job for the digger driver is to remove the men’s 17th tee and form the subbase for the practice range tee. This will be then finished off ‘in-house’ to be ready to be used when the range opens later in the year. When the new 8th is ready for use the 17th then will be defunct and used as the practice range complete with ball machine and targets. In the meantime we will use the ladies tee as the main tee for this hole. We were going to do the range tee at a later date but it made sense to utilise Abbotts whilst a machine and driver were working in such close proximity.



Plenty of questions have been asked as the work progresses, I’ll answer as best I can

Why was the turf not saved for use when stripping out the area for the ditch?- Down to time and cost really, it would have taken a lot of time to cut and then pick up the turf then find some where to store it until it would have been needed then a lot of time to pick it up to reuse. It works out cheaper in labour cost just to either buy new turf or seed the areas in question.

Can we not use the short 2nd but use the practice ground hole instead?- This has divided opinions, as when the practice ground was in use I was asked if the short 2nd could be used instead as the green was better. Can’t win! But we now have ordered temporary cards for the current layout and now have a standard scratch for that layout too so we won’t change it again I’m afraid.

What will happen to the Stroke indexes of the course? – At this moment we are still unsure. What is likely to happen initially when the new 8th and 9th holes come into play is that they will have the stroke indexes from the 17th and 8th holes I.e 6 for men 8 for ladies and the 13 for men 1 for ladies. That way the remaining stroke indexes are the same for the existing holes, then after a period of playing the new layout there will be some scoring averages to use in deciding any changes necessary.

What are the timescales for various parts of the course to reopen or be useable? – As you know the weather played havoc in this project, all best laid plans went out of the window. Had the weather been even average the project would have been completed by the start of April and thus allow more time before the main competition season started to grow in the areas. The 18th green would have been the first area started had the ground conditions allowed, instead it was nearly the last. This means the 18th won’t be useable for a little while longer. Until some grass has grown on the surrounding soil areas. It’s only going to cause issues if players walk on the mud to retrieve balls then carry that mud onto the green as well as undesirable rye grass seed from the soles of their shoes. With the growing season fully under way though germination will be quick so hopefully mid May can be achievable for the 18th. The new greens and 9th tee should be ready around September time.

I know the cores have to be used but can’t you core the greens now and stock pile them so as to allow the greens to start recovering sooner?- Good logical question, but unfortunately no. It’s similar to a transplant in that it’s a living thing that has to be kept alive for it to work. By putting the fresh cores on the new green they start growing straight away. If they were kept for any period of time in a pile they would start to degrade and would be of no use for establishment.

It’s been a tough time this year but it looks like we have seen the back of the ridiculous weather, thank you for being patient with the course and everything going on, we’re doing our best to catch up on the list of jobs outstanding and to get the course ready for your enjoyment.

Jason Brooks

Course Manager

A Brief History

A delightful parkland course with stunning views over Lyme Bay to the east and Dartmoor to the west. Torquay Golf Club has a rich history and it was here that Nick Faldo won his first winners cheque as a young professional.

Torquay Golf Course historic

The Torquay New Golf Course Company Limited was incorporated in 1909 and a large tract of land was let to the Company. The lands were certain farm pastures at Petitor, in use at Easter for a steeplechase meeting, and, being within the Urban District of St Marychurch and scenically attractive, were regarded as ideally suitable for golf. The professional of the Links at Westward Ho! was instructed to layout the new course.

On 20th May 1911, the new clubhouse was opened, and had the appearance of a cricket pavilion. The opening was celebrated with an exhibition match over 18 holes in which were engaged two of the reigning peers of Golf, Harry Vardon and J.H. Taylor, at a fee of ten guineas each, with amateurs C.V.L. Hooman and A.G.M. Croome.

To engage the services of Vardon and Taylor at that period was a superb effort. Harry Vardon had already won 'The Open Championship' on four occasions and he went on to win again 2 months after opening Torquay Golf Club, in July 1911. He still holds the record of 6 Open Championship titles in: 1896, 1898, 1899, 1903, 1911 and 1914.

The 'other' professional of the opening day match, J.H. Taylor, was no stranger to golf himself, winning 'The Open' on 5 occasions, being: 1894, 1895, 1900, 1909 and 1913.

Course Tour - Hole 1

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Click on hole numbers to navigate.

Hole Yards Par Stroke
1 405 4 7
2 153 3 15
3 430 4 1
4 433 4 3
5 367 4 9
6 356 4 11
7 386 4 5
8 367 4 13
9 302 4 17
10 443 4 2
11 172 3 14
12 538 5 16
13 166 3 8
14 389 4 4
15 366 4 12
16 293 4 18
17 190 3 6
18 382 4 10
Total 6138 69  
Hole Yards Par Stroke
1 398 4 7
2 143 3 15
3 414 4 1
4 408 4 3
5 355 4 9
6 340 4 11
7 383 4 5
8 355 4 13
9 295 4 17
10 419 4 2
11 155 3 14
12 526 5 16
13 153 3 8
14 371 4 4
15 361 4 14
16 265 4 18
17 181 3 6
18 375 4 10
Total 5897 69  
Hole Yards Par Stroke
1 393 4 9
2 138 3 13
3 415 5 7
4 400 5 15
5 341 4 3
6 329 4 5
7 320 4 11
8 350 4 1
9 285 4 17
10 420 5 14
11 104 3 16
12 524 5 2
13 142 3 10
14 323 4 4
15 346 4 6
16 232 4 18
17 158 3 8
18 307 4 12
Total 5527 72