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How would you like to play the best greens in England?

The West Midlands club are renowned for their great putting surfaces. But they've spent the last four years slaving away to bring up the standard. We asked manager Tony Moon about the project
 

It’s a course that is renowned for its presentation – but the conditions golfers enjoy at Copt Heath does not come about by happy accident. A tremendous amount of hard work goes into making the West Midlands parkland a consistent test of golf.

The club have spent the past four years improving their greens and recently installed a new practice area to make their off-course facilities just as impressive as their Top 100 layout, which each year hosts the extremely popular season-opening McEvoy Trophy.

We caught up with club manager Tony Moon to find out what was done and how it has enhanced a course that has the impressive marks of the two Harrys, Vardon and Colt, upon it…

The general perception has been that the Copt Heath greens were always of a high standard so why have you been carrying out a lot of work?

They were of a high standard but, about five or six years ago, they became slower and slower.

We had an amazing amount of thatch. We followed a regime that de-thatched it tremendously and we used a grading machine, where we took out something in the region of 3-4% every time we did it. Over the last four years, we’ve taken something like 25-30% of the thatch out.

You never should measure a course on its green speeds because it’s not all about that little piece of turf at the end – although most players and members measure a course on how fast the greens go.

We have a target of 10-10.5. We’ve retained that all this year and we regularly do Stimpmeter readings. We’ve maintained the leaf size and increased the speed.

We are cutting at 3.1mm and we’ve still got 10.4 or 10.5, depending on whether it rained the night before or not.

copt heath

You’ve also invested heavily in upgrading your practice area…

The layout was there, and had been for a long time. We enhanced it by putting a series of mats down.

We’ve got one long teaching mat and two other mats that give two target areas – and then we’ve invested in building a new green and bunker. That gives three good target areas where you can practise all year round, even when it’s raining.

The mats look good and we’ve started the process of renovating the bunkers to the same standard as those on the golf course so, in terms of the regime, it will become part of the golf course. We’ve got an extra four bunkers on the course on top of the 90-odd we already have.

I imagine this gives everyone – pros and members – a few more options…

It’s a 30- to 40-metre teaching mat and it is full of kids really enjoying the sport and getting into it.

We’ve got some as young as seven, who aren’t allowed on the course unless they are with an adult. That’s fantastic. We understand they might not become members of our club but, hopefully, they will take up the game and play somewhere.

copt heath

How Copt Heath is more than just a club

It’s not just on the course, and in the junior section, where Copt Heath have been enjoying success. Their Ladies’ Academy has also been helping to raise the profile of the club.

“It’s basic local community stuff and getting local ladies into golf,” Moon explained. “It was all based around a desire to try and promote our ladies section. We have 100-odd ladies, who all play golf, so we’ve got quite a strong section and some great junior girls that play for Warwickshire and have done well.

“The idea isn’t just about how you swing a club but how you become a member of a club and what being a member of a club really means.

“We consider ourselves slightly more than just a golf club here. We’re not a country club but we are slightly more and we encourage families, ladies, husbands and wives to participate in other facilities that we offer and having this practice area, combined with the blue course that we invested in last year, means when you first enter golf and want to play competitively there is the ability to do that.

“You can play someone off the blue course and they will have a handicap and play proper competitive golf.”

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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