Meet the golf course manager: Tracy Park’s Kevin Boxall

Jenny Yu
By Jenny Yu July 26, 2018 15:20

Maintaining two spectacular – but constructed differently – golf courses on a site of an English Civil War battle, Kevin details how he tackles challenges including drainage, irrigation and woodland management

Kevin Boxall

The 360 acres of mature parkland that play host to Tracy Park Hotel and Golf Club in Bristol’s two golf courses, The Crown and The Cromwell, make for a spectacular landscape. The Crown course has been awarded the HSBC Gold Award and is considered one of the toughest tests of parkland golf in the south west of England. The Cromwell course is a perfect combination of old and new, bringing together the best of both worlds. Starting and finishing within mature parkland, overlooking the Georgian Manor House, the course meanders up into the hills to overlook the surrounding Cotswold Hills. Parts of the Cromwell course are set on the battlefields of the Battle of Lansdown, the bloodiest battle in the English Civil War, hence the name of the courses.

We caught up with the club’s course manager, Kevin Boxall, to find out about him – and the work that goes into maintaining these two attractive golf courses.

“The biggest challenge for me here would have to be the weather,” he said. “With winters becoming wetter and colder and spring coming much later.

“Being on a clay base, drainage was an issue in winter with large parts of the course underwater for several months. Tracy Park will in the near future be looking to improve the drainage on the dryer of the two courses to try to enable me to keep one course open 330-plus days a year.

“During the winter months we solid tine greens, tees and approaches using different depths and sizes of tines using a Toro ProCore or Wiedenmann. Fairways are tined using either a large Vertidrain or Earthquake machine. In April we hollow core one course and Graden sand injection the other. Then again in August we will swap over so each course is hollow cored and deep scarified. I am given a two-week window to complete these operations. During the main playing season, I try to tine greens every six weeks when weather and ground conditions allow. Top dressing is applied at a heavy rate during spring and summer renovation and a few light dressings during the season.”

The club has recently installed a new irrigation system across the two courses.

“We were looking for a system that would give me complete control, full coverage of greens, tees and approaches, and be economical to run.

“We decided to use Topturf due to my past experiences with them when I worked at Old Thorns Golf and Country Estate.  Plus, the cost difference between them and the next best was nearly £100,000. The new system should take us into the next decade without any major issues or concerns. Topturf also provide me with a year service contract plus a two-year guarantee on all works carried out.

“We needed a system that would deliver high pressure at the highest point on the course and be affordable.

“I worked very closely with Topturf during the design stages so that they knew what I was looking for. They offered me suggestions on products and brands and information on what would best suit my requirements. I decided to go with a Toro control system and heads. Topturf worked out all the pipe sizes and pump configuration to give me the best possible pressure at our highest point. Toro has a very good reputation in greenkeeping for providing track proven equipment that works.”

The club has also been working closely with the local council to implement a woodland maintenance programme, as Kevin details.

“When Tracy Park was purchased, a blanket tree preservation order was in force on the entire site to protect the history and heritage of the site. I have had to work very closely with South Gloucestershire tree officer Simon Penfold who has helped me draw up a woodland management plan that would protect and enhance the beautiful trees on the site but still allow me the ability to improve the surface of the course.”

Tracy Park Golf Club

Despite the hard work, Kevin loves his job.

“I get the greatest satisfaction from members and guests saying how good the courses play and looks. I feel proud of what my team has produced over the last three years and I’m looking forward to see it continue to improve over the coming years,” he said.

 

Jenny Yu
By Jenny Yu July 26, 2018 15:20
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