Meet the course manager: Simon Bell-Tye

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir August 28, 2017 07:28 Updated

Simon is the course manager of Skylark Golf & Country Club in Hampshire. He talks about the major bunker refurbishment his team carried out, plus his attitude to tree management

Can you detail the major bunker refurbishment programme you have been undertaking?

Soon after joining Skylark I found that the bunkering around the course was noticeably poor in terms of visual appearance and playability. I met with the managing director and we both agreed that addressing the bunkers should be one of the first issues that had to be sorted. As Skylark is not a long course and the length has been fully maximised, the most obvious way to make the course tougher was to install bigger bunkers whilst moving them into more strategic positions.

Being a member of Royal Winchester Golf Club, which has just completed a three-year programme installing Ecobunker, I was able to assess the benefits and practicalities of using this product at Skylark. I liked the appearance of the new bunkers and the fact that they were impounded so no stones or debris can enter them either through the wall of the bunker or from under the base. I spoke in depth with the head greenkeeper, Andy Barber, about the installation process and what was involved and felt this was a product that would provide major benefits to the Skylark course and enhance the playability and appearance of it. Richard Allen, director of Ecobunker, brought PermaEdge to us for a trial as we were finding that the grass edges were drying out during periods of little or no rain. The PermaEdge has worked extremely well. It not only provides a good finish but also minimal bunker maintenance.

How many more bunkers are on the schedule to be completed?

Due to the success of the product we are looking to add a further six to eight bunkers to the course this winter. A further 10 bunkers are planned and will be included into our winter programme for the next few winters. It is anticipated the work will be completed by spring 2020.

I would recommend this bunker system to other head greenkeepers because it gives great definition and presentation to the golf course and once installed has minimal maintenance, for example no edging or debris. Ecobunker as a company are extremely professional and enthusiastic. Their technical support has been excellent and they have been on hand to answer any questions or have visited, when required, to review progress.

Tell us about the tree management programme. You planted 850 trees across the course?  

To give some of the holes definition, character and to penalise a wayward shot, it was decided to undertake a tree planting programme. This was started in October 2014 and included marking each area out in five metre spacing to allow for tree growth and cutting around them. We looked at what species would grow well here plus trees native to the area. From this we selected hornbeam, cherry, willow, magnolia, alder, tiller and maple. The trees varied between two to three metres in height and came in pot sizes between 65 and 100 litres.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir August 28, 2017 07:28 Updated
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1 Comment

  1. Richard August 30, 10:09

    Since we (ecobunker) got involved with Skylark in 2014 the improvement in the course and facilities has been very impressive. We’re very proud that our bunker system is a big part of this, but the club has also invested heavily in drainage , tees and ancillary infrastructure. Simon Bell-Tye, plus his Greenkeeping team, and the club ownership deserve success. I am sure they are already seeing some encouraging signs.

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