Five-Year Rolling Golf Course Improvement Plan 2023-27


Badgemore Park remains a truly special parkland course in a stunning ‘area of outstanding natural beauty.’ The club is a wonderful place to visit with its changing beauty through every season and the course is enjoyed by both members and visitors all year round. Although the main golfing season is from May to October, this document will look to detail practices and procedures that will improve our golfers’ experience throughout the year. The club already has an impressive reputation for investment and forward thinking that means its standing, both locally and in the wider golfing community, continues to grow. This is a legacy that the next five-year plan from 2023-27 must continue to build upon.

Looking back at our previous five-year plan, we can be extremely proud of the progress that was made to enhance the overall Badgemore Park experience. We undertook all the large course improvement projects identified in the strategic plan written by Ken Moodie, of Creative Golf, in 2013. New greens on the 1st and 5th holes, new tee complexes to the 2nd and 6th holes, a new yellow tee on the 3rd hole and new red tees on the 5th and 12th holes were all installed alongside the refurbishment of every bunker on the course. Additionally, as part of the 50th Anniversary celebrations, we undertook several legacy projects including introducing a blue course that is rated for both the Men and Ladies as well as installing a lake at the greenside of the 18th to create a finishing hole full of drama. Pleasingly, we were also able to undertake a number of large course projects that were not foreseen at the time the 2017-22 plan was written. These projects included the development of a new, large practice chipping green, the addition of two new warm-up nets, the installation of a double-bay covered teaching area with Trackman technology and in February 2023, the club planted 50 specimen trees as part of our 50th Anniversary celebrations and in support of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s platinum jubilee green canopy initiative.

Whilst reflecting on the success of the previous plan, it is a stark reminder of some significant, unforeseen challenges that have been faced in recent years and a reminder that any plan moving forward should be regularly reviewed to ensure it remains a sustainable strategy for the club. We hope to complete as many of the published improvement projects as possible but will ensure we do so from a position of strength and at a time when they are financially viable.

Our new five-year plan for the course taking us from 2023-2027 details several exciting and significant projects, that include:

  • A re-design of the 4th to strengthen this hole into a signature par-3 on our front 9
  • A review of all other par-3 holes to see how they could be enhanced
  • Assessing which greens could benefit from additional drainage works
  • Refurbishing and extending the path network to ensure it improves course access and condition, particularly during winter months
  • Assessing the sand used in the bunkers to improve playability
  • Installing an indoor Swing Room with the latest technology

In addition to the key projects outlined above, the fully automated Rainbird irrigation system to all greens, tees, approaches, and fairways reaches its 20th anniversary in 2024 and so an assessment of the system and what, if any, upgrades will need to be undertaken during the next 5-year period.

Finally, and most importantly, discussions began back in January on the next 5-year agreement for our fleet of greenkeeping machinery. The agreement is not due to start until September 2024 but even being this far ahead of the curve still does not guarantee that all new machines will be available when our current agreement ends, such is the backlog and shortage of parts. It is not just the timescales that are proving challenging, the costs are equally concerning with increases of over 100% for a like-for-like fleet. However, the order for the new fleet of machinery has been signed off by the club’s Managing Director and so a new Toro fleet, of high quality machinery with the latest advancements in technology which will provide the greenkeeping team the necessary equipment to build on the enhancements to course presentation and the quality of playing surfaces we have seen in recent years, will arrive in the autumn of 2024.

Despite not publishing this plan until late 2023, our commitment to continuing to invest and improve the course within the new 5-year plan has already begun with Hydrowick drainage being installed to the 6th and 9th greens. Doing these first two greens in early October 2023 has already proven its worth with the significant amounts of rain we have endured this autumn. The reputation this drainage has for improving greens is incredibly positive, albeit a significant investment at over £11,000 per green for the external contractor works alone.

With projects already under way and the next 5-year plan created, we look forward to developing the course here at Badgemore Park further in the coming years for the benefit of both club members and visiting golfers.


Key points

  • Ensure the whole greenkeeping fleet is developed and the mowing fleet is enhanced through a new Toro agreement.
  • Improve course appearance, presentation, playability, interest and safety.
  • Further enhance the character of the course by developing swales, additional mounding and improving undulation.
  • Redefine the areas in need of cutting and extend the number of seed head rough areas.
  • Ensure “best practice” procedures are regularly reviewed and implemented.
  • Review bunker sand to improve playability.
  • Develop fine turf areas through extensive top dressing, aeration and revised mowing regimes.
  • Develop ecological credentials through the creation of new, and development of existing, bio-diversified habitats and woodland management.
  • Review and develop the club’s sustainability policies
  • Develop sward density to allow improved definition between approach, fairway, semi-rough and rough areas. This will also improve receptiveness and enhance visual appeal.
  • Improve and standardise the bin, ball washer and tee sign areas on each hole.



In the last few years, the quality of our greens has been at the forefront of our thinking and pleasingly, feedback has been incredibly positive. With a more aggressive programme of aeration and top dressing, we have been able to improve the sward density of our greens which in turn has allowed us to quicken the speed of the greens during both the playing season and off season, something we are keen to develop further.

Regular hand-cutting and rolling the greens with the greens iron has also played in important part in not only increasing the speed but also improving the trueness of the roll on our greens.

Over the last few years, in addition to creating new run-off areas and taking the areas of semi-rough away from the green surrounds to create finer turf so that a variety of short-game shots can be played, a policy has been in place to enlarge the putting surfaces wherever possible. This will continue, along with the ongoing review of greens maintenance and mowing practices.

Moving forward, we will maintain a cutting height on greens of 4mm or below during the main season and up to 5mm off season and will install extra greens drainage, using the Hydrowick rope system, where needed.


Green Surrounds, Aprons and Approaches

A concentrated effort will be made to continue improving the quality of playing surfaces to the aprons, approaches and greens surrounds. This will be achieved through regular top-dressing of these areas and importantly, through the purchase of a Toro sidewinder mower which is a lighter and more flexible machine, will allow us to cut greens surrounds and mounding areas more tightly and more regularly.

We will also look to soften the mounding around certain greens and will maintain a cutting height on aprons and approaches of 11mm.



In recent years, certain holes have either had new tee complexes installed or had existing tees enlarged and refurbished. During the last five years, improvements have been made to holes 2, 4, 5, 6, 11 and 12. Moving forward, we will look to create new teeing areas on certain holes and will look to enlarge and level other teeing areas where necessary. Details about which tees on which holes are to be given priority can be found in the hole-by-hole analysis later in this document. Hand-cutting tees when conditions and man-hours allow will also form part of the greenkeeping work programme.

In addition to the tee renovation works, the distances from tee to fairway are reviewed annually and reduced where it is felt the carry becomes excessive. During our assessment, we have also considered the effect that any changes will have on safety. Access and egress from tees have been carefully assessed and where sleeper steps are in place, all treads are to be treated with a full covering of grip clad, a slip-resistant surface, and any rotten sleepers will be replaced.


Fairways, Semi-Rough and Rough

During the previous five-year plan, the fairways were re-shaped and we now enjoy a reputation of fairness where the course rewards a well-struck shot, is not too narrow and penal for high handicappers, and bunkers and other hazards are placed at distances and in positions that test the best.

The condition of the fairways has continued to progress year on year and with water on tap during hot summer months, sward density is good enabling us to diamond cross-cut fairways when conditions allow. Wormcasts during the winter months continue to be problematic but with the right greenkeeping practices in place we are able to minimise this issue.

During the golfing season, we will maintain a cutting height on fairways of 14mm and at 16mm outside of these months. In 2023, we have reduced the semi-rough to two widths of the 4500 Toro Grounds Master and will maintain a cutting height of 38mm during the golf season and 51mm off season. We also introduced seed head rough areas to certain parts of the course, which has improved the visual appeal on the course and enhanced our ecological credentials by creating new bio-diversified habitats for flowers, fauna and insects to thrive. We will be looking to develop these further moving forward. These environmental avenues require minimal maintenance but all other areas of rough will be maintained at a cutting height of 100mm all year round.

Finally, there are a couple of fairway areas that would benefit from having some more drainage installed and we will look to undertake these improvement works in-house.



Having strategically placed bunkers is an essential element in the make-up and canvas of any golf course. Bunkers provide a strong visual impact on the course and for many players, dictate their shot choice. Badgemore Park has significant but not excessive bunkering which was a major focus of the course improvements in the last 5-year programme. Bunker renovation works through the installation of rubber crumb to all bunkers is now complete with 34 bunkers of differing shapes and sizes to maintain. The rubber crumb surface allows for excellent drainage which means none of our bunkers holds water after heavy downpours and the old problem of stones in the bunkers because of the nature of the gravelly subsoil they sit on at Badgemore, is no more.

Our attention during the next 5-year programme will concentrate on sand consistency and playability. One of the most difficult and time-consuming tasks that all greenkeeping teams undertake is the maintenance of the bunkers. Sand depth and consistency is likely to be amongst the top topics of discussion in all golf clubhouses. We are currently trialling a new sand in the short-game area practice bunkers, having received positive feedback from several local courses. Should we agree that this sand gives the desired playability, we will begin a programme to install the new sand to all the bunkers around the course. In addition, sand splash from the bunkers will always occur and so a rolling programme of repairing worn bunker edges will continue to form part of our standard greenkeeping practices.


Ecology and Sustainability

The Club benefits from a wide variety of wildlife living within our ecologically diverse environment and one of the main aims of this new five-year plan is to enhance the club’s ecological and sustainability credentials. Enhancements, particularly through the creation of seed head grassland areas, continual woodland management and development of the tree species around the course, the creation of bug hotels through log piles in the woodland areas and the installation of additional water to the course through the creation of the lake on the 18th hole, sit alongside a sympathetic attitude to the use of fertilisers, fungicides and pesticides, which all add to the club’s biodiversity.

Further developing our ecological credentials in whatever way we can during this new 5-year plan will be an important goal for us to achieve.

Over the last five years, sustainability has come much more to the forefront of people’s thinking and we, as a business, must undertake a full review of this subject and look at ways in which we can do our bit to make the club a more sustainable business. Electric car-charging facilities, the use of recycled plastic and understanding our suppliers’ working practices have already improved our credentials but other areas including the installation of solar panels and switching from gas boilers to more sustainable sources of hot water and heating will no doubt form a large part of the club’s thinking during the next five years and beyond.


Woodland Management

Woodland management is an important task that needs constant review. Several of the original mature woodland copses are of a similar age which is not ideal. However, the age profile was significantly enhanced at the beginning of the millennium when over 4,000 new indigenous trees were planted around the course. These trees are now semi-mature and selective removal of the weaker specimens allowing the better specimens to develop and flourish has become a necessary practice as part of our woodland management.

We will also continue to raise the canopy of the trees throughout the course as this aids air circulation allowing the course to dry out during extended wet periods and allows more sunlight to reach the grasses beneath the trees helping turf establishment.

Planting new specimen trees around the course to replace ageing or lost stock, or for specific initiatives such as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s platinum jubilee green canopy project, will also help us to enhance the variety of specimens and improve the age profile of the trees around our beautiful course, ensuring we continue to be good custodians of the land.


Path Network

One of the key features of course improvements moving forward is finding a better solution for the path network across the course. The refurbishment works undertaken during the previous 5-year plan have not had the desired effect and finding the right material that withstands varying weather conditions whilst alleviating health and safety concerns is the priority. The path network now measures 1,715 metres and is an essential part of members being able to enjoy their golf over the winter. The aim is to have buggy access to the course for as much of the winter as possible and improving the path network continually over the next five years will be an important part of helping us achieve this.


Practice and Teaching Facilities

One of the main aims that we did not achieve during the last 5-year plan was the installation of an indoor swing room, a project that remains a target in this latest plan.

We did, however, manage to build a double covered teaching bay and install Trackman technology, which has significantly enhanced the custom fitting and coaching services that our team of PGA professionals are able to provide irrespective of the weather conditions.

The installation of our short-game practice area with large chipping green has also hugely benefited members’ practice and has given the golf professional team the ability to run short-game clinics that have significantly increased Junior and Lady academy attendance as well as giving us the ability to host County coaching of the Ladies’ Oxfordshire County team.

The desire within the next 5-year plan is to build on the coaching offered by the club, particularly in the winter months, by installing a state-of-the-art indoor swing room. Alongside the use of the latest Trackman technology, this will allow the team to provide custom fittings and coaching into the evenings as well as members having an additional golfing experience beyond the hours of daylight or when the weather is inclement.


Machinery Fleet

As has already been stated, our existing Toro agreement ends in September 2024 and a new five-year agreement that enhances and upgrades our machinery fleet will start. Unfortunately, buying or renting machinery is an expensive exercise with a total value of over £685,000 being attributed to the new machinery we are either renting or buying.

In addition to a full fleet of mowing machinery, including the additional 3500 Toro sidewinder mower for the greens surrounds and aprons, we will be replacing several pieces of essential equipment including two Workman utility vehicles, a new Toro Multipro Sprayer and a new TV4000 Agrimetal Leaf collector.


The Greenkeeping Team

Pleasingly, within the last 5 year plan we were able to introduce a sixth full time greenkeeper and a part-time gardener to the team. The additional 60 hours a week this has given course manager, Lindsay Anderson, has been an enormous help to the team, further improving course aesthetics and playing surfaces whilst also enhancing and maintaining neat and tidy garden areas.

During the next 5 years, the desire is to increase the team further either through an additional gardener or through an additional trainee greenkeeper.

Development of the existing team’s skillsets is always at the forefront of our mind and we will continue to support any member of the team who wishes to further develop their professional abilities through appropriate training courses.



Overall, when considering the improvements to the golf course, we have striven to make the experience a fair one whereby a poorly struck shot is penalised, yet the player may, in most cases, recover the ball and secure the opportunity to choose between risk and reward.

 A quote from Creative Golf reads: 

“The strategy of the golf course is the soul of the game. The spirit of golf is to dare a hazard, and by negotiating it reap a reward, while he/she who fears or declines the issue of a carry, has a longer or harder shot for his/her second, or his/her second and third on long holes; yet the player who avoids the unwise effort gains advantage over one who tries for more than in him/her lies, or who fails under the test.”

We believe that the proposed improvements will both add to the enjoyment for golfers of all standards whilst embodying the spirit of the game. Course conditions greatly influence the playability of any course and we believe that the measures outlined will enhance the playing surfaces on a year-round basis.