What are ‘Winter Rules’ and when do they end?

We have had a number of members enquire recently regarding Winter Rules:

The idea behind Winter Rules is twofold:

  1. To improve your enjoyment of the game and make it fairer - it is bad enough that you lose so much distance during the winter. There is nothing worse however than landing on the fairway only to find your ball has plugged, is covered in mud or lying in casual water!
  2. To reduce damage to the course - John the Greenkeeper's nightmare is to watch people hacking balls out of bad lies on the fairway!

At Princes Risborough Golf Club our rules fall in line with the R&A guidelines and are usually in force until the end of March.  It will be clearly marked if Winter Rules Apply on the first Tee.

Winter rules allow you, in accordance with Appendix 1 of the Rules of Golf, to lift, clean and place your ball within six inches of where it has come to rest (but only on “closely mown areas”).


Things to remember…

  • Winter rules for competitions are decided by the committee.  What you decide between you and your regular golfing pals in your own friendly fourball however is up to you.
  • Winter rules only apply to “closely mown areas” – those parts of the course cut to fairway height or less, including paths through the rough, and the fringes or aprons around the greens.
  • You MUST mark the position of the ball before lifting, cleaning and placing – failure to do so leads to a one-stroke penalty.
  • You only get one chance at placing the ball and once you let go of it, it is in play. However, if the ball fails to come to rest at all on the spot you have carefully chosen, you may try again on that spot and if it still fails to come to rest “place it at the nearest spot where it can be placed at rest that is not nearer the hole and not in a hazard.” But be warned, if you place it on the most inviting tuft and it does initially come to rest, but then falls off or moves before you play, there is no penalty but you must now play it as it lies. In such circumstances, if you pick your ball up and place it again, you will incur a penalty stroke for moving your ball in play and must replace the ball under Rule 18-2a – i.e. put it back in the spot where it had rolled or moved to.

What about the Rough?

There is no automatic relief from plugged lies in the rough under Winter Rules.  You have no choice but to either play the ball as it lies or take relief under penalty.

What about Casual Water?

Once again, if you land on closely mown grass but find yourself in casual water, the rules are simple. Find the nearest point of relief which is not nearer to the hole and drop within a club length of that.

For those that like to read the full detail, please refer to the following R&A link...

Preferred Lies - Winter Rules


Budget Impact on Bar Prices…

Dear Members,

as you will probably have heard the Chancellor recently increased the alcohol duty rates by 3.9%.  Our suppliers have also incurred significant additional raw material costs which they have chosen to pass on to the trade. We have received price increases of 5% plus from all of our suppliers.

The impact on prices at PRGC for members is as follows:

Ales Prices

PRGC have held Brakspear and Rebellion IPA prices at £3.40 and £3.60 respectively

Wine and Spirits

PRGC have held prices on Wines and Spirits for now, pending final negotiations

Lager and Cider

The price of Stella 4 has gone up from £3.30 to £3.40 (+3%). This increase will be effective from Friday 17th March, 2017. All other prices are held pending further negotiations.

Rest assured that we are doing all that we can to keep quality as high as possible and prices as low as possible.

Some smart words from your Captain… March 8th 2017

An investment opportunity

With Spring upon us I am sure that we all hope that the effects of Winter on our health, and our golf, will simply disappear. That is positive thinking and there is nothing wrong with that.
Hopefully with the sun on our backs our health really will receive a boost. Our golf might need a little more help, and help is at hand. Our drives are likely to be getting shorter each year and how often do we hear of, and talk of, that element of our game? Are we likely to recover longer, straighter drives – this year or next? More reason then to try to replace lost yards with fewer shots in and around the greens.
Bruce Loome, our very own Club and PGA Professional has the answers that we need to improve our game; to remind us of the skills that we have acquired but that seem to escape us when they are most needed. If we thought that we could get those lost yards back it’s likely we would rush out and buy that new and improved driver – but we can knock shots off our short game, now, by investing in proven effective coaching, ‘Backward Chaining‘.
No need to go to American Golf, trawl through magazines comparing “new improved” clubs or disappear to the range trying to recover those diminishing yards.
Whether you prefer to invest in private coaching or share the cost in a group Bruce will improve your game and it will be both rewarding and enjoyable – as many of our Members will already be happy to tell you. The secret of success will probably be sitting next to you in the Clubhouse.

Brian Fowler
Captain 2016-7

Golf Club Update – March 2017

What a busy quarter – on and off the course!

For consistency the update retains it’s 3 point structure, based on our club vision:

1. Being a happy and productive team delivering great customer service

I would like to thank Nick, Michelle and Luke for all their hard work in delivering such a good customer experience. Members have been feeding back to us regarding the issues that really matter to them; and that is what we have been focused on:

Greater consistency of tidiness; specifically patio areas and changing rooms

We transferred responsibility for patio tidying to the greenkeeping team and have received positive feedback on the switch. A new karcher patio cleaner has been purchased and we are revamping the boot cleaning area over the next 4 weeks. This initiative is still very much work in progress.

An upgrade to the shower rooms

We have engaged with a plumber capable of upgrading the showers and are awaiting a final quotation and installation timing

An enhanced lunchtime menu for all days of the week

Feedback on the new lunchtime food options has been really positive. Nick and Michelle’s decision for one of them to always be present on Saturday and Sunday lunch times has also made a huge difference to members.

Better communication and website experience

We have received a positive response to our new website and it will remain the epi centre of all communications, internal and external. Importantly, we are now launching our social media activities to drive traffic into this new website. This will include E-Shots to members and potential visitors. It will also include Twitter and Facebook posts of important New News, Fun activities and Promotions.

We would ask all members who like our website / current offers to ‘Like’ our Facebook page. We do not wish to waste money advertising when we can invest it in the course. Any social media support from the membership therefore is gratefully received.

We are also upgrading our comms in the clubhouse, including:
* using the monitor behind the reception desk to promote key messages
* a new magnetic whiteboard behind the reception desk
* enabling the TV to be used as a website browser

Watch this space 🙂

New Members

Over the last 8 weeks Nick and I have been experimenting with a number of business development ideas. One of the successful aspects of this has been developing our relationships with clubs and pubs within our catchment. Congratulations to Nick on developing a great pipeline of Society days – these are a wonderful opportunity for us to show off our club and attract potential new members.

2. Improving the quality of the golf course each and every year

Once again a big thank you to John, Sam, Jake and of course Bob and Simon. Whilst we know that we can always improve; it was gratifying to hear from a Waterstock member that our course is in amazing condition compared to other local clubs and that he plans to join PRGC when his membership runs out! You will no doubt have been reading the many New News releases relating to course development. If you haven’t, please take a look at:


We will continue to use the New News section to keep people up to speed with activities and the growing web presence in the clubhouse will increase visibility. Some points to note coming up are:

* Back to basics – increasing general standards around the course such as bin emptying, shoe cleaning area, new signage…watch this space!
* Improving Greens and Tees – continued enhancements to consistency and quality – see New News
* Improving bunkers – we recently invested in new strimmers to improve edging and are taking a new look at the green side bunker on the 4th – more to follow in New News
* New Short Game Academy Course – continued process to finalise the course for May 6th, including finishing the bunker steps and re- engineering the soil composition of the greens.
* Planning for the next “Signature, Course Enhancement” – In my first two years, we added a new raised Tee and a lake to hole 3. We remain in the planning and consultation stage for the next “signature upgrade” which will be finished and in play within the next 18 months… more to follow… but think Hole 5 and the potential for a new Tee Off location :-)) More to follow in New News

A massive thank you once again to the four members who complete our Weekly Course Evaluation feedback forms to help the greenkeeping team to identify things that matter. Jill, Roy, Brian and the Grumpies (Brian and Richard) – a massive thank you!!

3. Building a learning culture at the club which enables members to maximise their enjoyment of golf

There are four areas that are being focused on:
* The new Driving and Chipping Practice Nets will be launched shortly – watch out for New News 🙂
* The Short Game Academy Course is being developed for soft launch this May
* Encouraging people to take up the amazing Backward Chaining coaching course with Bruce. Such positive feedback and not surprising that Backward Chaining is so successful versus traditional coaching methods. Please see the latest Promotions in New News…



and perhaps take a look at… Backward Chaining and why perhaps its time to totally reconsider how much difference the right kind of coaching can have on how much you enjoy the game!

* Watch out for “Top Putt” and “Top Chip” initiatives being launched later this month. Given the current ratings of Top Gear – perhaps we should copy in the BBC!

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Members and particularly the Committee for all of their ongoing support. The two Captains, Brian and Sue have been simply amazing to work with – thank you both so much.

Enjoy your golf!!

Upgrade From 5 to 7 Day Membership and get Free Coaching worth £90

The new ‘Backward Chaining’ coaching being introduced at the club is proven to improve scorecards by 1 shot a hole versus traditional coaching methods!!

The March Beginners Course is now sold out but Bruce is now taking bookings for April.  The April Lessons Package is designed for Intermediate Level golfers.

It includes 6 x 90 minute group coaching sessions for just £90 – that’s right, £10 an hour for a Class ‘A’ Golf Pro!!

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Ladies – March Update

Good morning ladies.  The weather is definitely living up to its March billing of 'in like a lion' - let's hope that it's true to the old saying and goes 'out like a lamb'.  That said we were extraordinarily lucky with the weather last Wednesday when we celebrated St David's Day with all sorts of Welsh themes and what I understand was a most enjoyable game of Rough Justice.  Thanks to you all for embracing my determination to see daffodils and leeks everywhere - I hope you had as much fun as I did - and thanks to Team PRGC for their support.  For the record, there is a piece on the club website with some photographic evidence of the event - take a look under the New News section halfway down the home page.  www.princesrisboroughgolfclub.co.uk

Below you will find information about the various activities that we have planned over the coming month and some other points of interest.  Please take a moment to read through to the end and get back to me if you'd like further details.


All Mondays in March

Ladies Roll Up

Depending on weather conditions the Monday roll-up will continue throughout the month.  In principle players will go out in arrival order, playing 9, 14 or 18 holes as mutually agreed.  It can be disappointing if you happen to be the one who turns up when there's no one else around, so it's worth remembering that most ladies chose to go out about 0900 and if the weather does turn against us some ladies still pop into the club mid-late morning for a coffee (or hot chocolate!) and a chat. 

Wednesday 8 March

March Medal

The sign-up sheet has been posted on the noticeboard in the Locker Room - I hope you've all got a tee-time arranged.
The draw for the Hutley Cup will be made at lunchtime this day.   If you haven't signed up but would like to play then you have until Tuesday 7 March to add your name to the list on the noticeboard.

Wednesday 15 March

Ladies Informal Morning

The informal game this day will be a  Greensomes  competition.  Tee times from 0845 onwards with ladies going out in pairs in arrival order.  Remember for Greensomes you both tee off and then chose the best ball, playing alternate shots.  Full information will be on display that morning.  This is good practice for up-coming competitions and is a fairly quick format so we should all make good time around the course.  When you finish, p lease hand your card into the clubhouse with your playing fee  as soon as you clear the 18th green .  
The draw for the Ladies Summer Singles will take place at lunchtime this day.

Saturday 18 March

Distinguishables v Incorruptibles

This is a match between a captains team and a 'management' team.  Lists have now closed and I am delighted to see that 8 ladies have signed up.  The draw for play will take place on Thursday 9 March - if you've put your name down you can expect further details by email thereafter.  

Wednesday 22 March

Ladies Informal Morning

The format for the game this day will be announced on 15 March.  

Wednesday 29 March

Ladies Informal Morning

The format for the game this day will be announced on 22 March.

Thursday 30 March

TOFFS and Ladies American Foursomes

This is a Stableford competition played in pairs and followed by a hot buffet lunch.  Guests are welcome at this fun event which I am confident everyone will enjoy.  As usual sign-up sheets are on our noticeboard.  


Winter Pairs and Summer Pairs

The semi-finals for the Winter Pairs will be completed at the beginning of April with the final played later in the month.  This will leave the way clear for us to get started on the Summer Pairs.  Look out for sign-up sheets for the summer competition within the next few days.

Marking Your Cards

A gentle reminder about marking your cards.  Whether you are playing a qualifier (Medal or Stableford) or for an informal game, please remember to start by putting your name on your own card and also on the card that you are actually marking, and that when you finish the round you must sign both cards.  Please take time to agree on the score for each hole as you go rather than get back in and find a discrepancy.  A minute or two once you've cleared the green and are en route to the next tee is all it takes - without these formalities it is particularly difficult for Jill to fulfil her responsibilities as Handicap Secretary.  Thank you.


It was good to see a number of ladies taking part in Bruce's putting coaching last week.  Remember the mantra?   Tick-Tock-Stop.   Bruce is moving on to chipping next week, followed by pitching and driving in subsequent weeks.  There is still room for you to join in, even if you missed putting.  Many of us feel that our short game needs sprucing up and these classes offer us that chance.  So check your diaries for Tuesday or Friday mornings at 10.00 and put your name down on Bruce's lists that are displayed in the Ladies Locker Room. 

Golf 4 Women Fashion Event

For those amongst us who can't resist a bargain, the place to be in the evening on Wednesday 29 March is Wycombe Heights Golf Club where a ladies golf fashion event will be taking place.  The notice is on the board in the Ladies Locker Room and you'll see that they seem to be encouraging people to reserve tickets in advance.  

Finally, I would like to ask you all to hold Ann Fox and her family in your thoughts and hearts on Monday 6 March when Alan Fox's funeral will take place.  Some of us will be joining Ann at Greenacres Woodland Burials that afternoon, but if you aren't able to be there for distance or other reasons, then please pause for thought at 14.30. https://www.greenacrescelebrate.co.uk/park/chiltern/

I'm sure that we are all looking forward to warmer and longer days that will make being on the golf course even more enjoyable and I look forward to seeing you all out there throughout the month.  

Best Regards

Sue D'Arcy

Princes Risborough Ladies dish out some “Rough Justice”…

Our Ladies Section acknowledged the arrival of March this week by celebrating St David's Day.  The clubhouse was adorned with Welsh bunting, daffodils and leeks, and out on the course the ladies played Rough Justice - penalised if they ventured off the fairways en route to the greens.  For once this year the weather was glorious and everyone had a splendid morning.  Back in the clubhouse the theme continued over lunch with delicious leek and potato soup on offer followed by Welsh cakes

The ladies had also been asked to take the St David's Day theme out on to the course with them - Jacqui and Beryl looked particularly smart in their Welsh hats!  

Aeration and Top Dressing of Greens at Princes Risborough Golf Club – 04.03.17

We understand that it is incredibly frustrating to turn up to the golf course, only to discover, in layman's terms, that the green is full of little holes or covered in sand. So we thought that you were owed some simple answers. This post will quickly explain why we aerate and top dress the greens with sand, what different solutions we use and whether you get 'relief' or not if your putt is disrupted.

When you consider that golf greens are generally only about 1% of the total area of the golf course, yet 50% of the game is played on them - we understand their importance to you and the intention of this post is to explain that unless we maintain the greens properly, we will eventually kill them. In short, we apologise for the short term disruption, but it is necessary if you want to maximise your enjoyment of the game across the whole season.

Our main greens enjoy a healthy combination of what are known as soil solids (minerals and organic material) and soil pores (space for water and air). This combination provides a healthy rootzone and ultimately healthy grass.

This successful combination is disrupted over time by one of two challenges; one is through an unhealthy imbalance of solids and the other through a reduction in soil pores through compaction.
If not managed appropriately, these can adversely affect the performance of the green in many ways, such as ball bounce, ball roll, reduced ball speed and in the long term, damage the soil structure, which may lead to expensive reconstruction costs and avoidable player down time.

Let's take compaction first.

Why do we aerate the greens?

Essentially high volumes of people treading on the greens will reduce the soil pores and eventually damage the health of the grass. We are blessed with a course with natural chalk and shale drainage. Whilst compaction problems occur on all courses, those with heavier soil bases such as clay tend to suffer much worse. So we are luckier than most, but our greens do still require relief from compaction.

Maintaining the correct balance of the soil solids is critical for sustaining healthy plant growth. The spaces between the particles of solid material however are just as important. It is in these pore spaces which create the environment for the plant to obtain the necessary water, air and nutrients it requires to drink, breathe and grow.

And what about healthy soil?

Why do we top dress the greens?

In short, our agronomists point to the 15 year study by Nebraska University and have made clear to us that getting sand into the root zone is critical to dilute the amount of organic matter that accumulates in the soil. Organic matter comes from dead roots and shoots, and is increased by the amount of fertilizer and water used. A green that has excess organic matter is soft and spongy, doesn't drain well, shows visible foot prints from golfer foot traffic, and is not a good putting surface.

How do we aerate?

The main aim of aeration is to penetrate the soil profile to create new pore space and we use two primary methods.

Hollow Coring

we have just hollow cored the new Short Game Academy Course greens. We did this because we wanted to both aerate the soil and change the soil composition to create an accelerated growth environment for new seeds. For the main greens we have invested in new grooming equipment to manage our thatch depth and the agronomist currently advises that we do not need to hollow core as a thatch removal mechanism.

Solid Tining

The problem with hollow coring is that it is very disruptive to play. Solid tining heals much faster. It works by using varying depths and diameters of tines to puncture holes in the root zone. During the spring we are using quick healing pencil tines to open up the pores and encourage health. Later in the season, depending on soil health, we will consider using deeper tines with a shatter action - but for now we are in good shape.

NB This year we will also be testing Aero Quick, a brilliant combination of 'slitting' and 'solid tining' which penetrates 6 inches through the thatch with minimum disruption to play - watch this space!!

When do we aerate?

Aeration should be carried out on a regular basis, when weather and soil conditions allow. It ties in with our other seasonal renovation programmes, such as dethatching (or grooming) and topdressing which we complete in the spring and autumn.

Summary of key benefits of Aeration?

* Improves soil surface drainage (water infiltration)
* Helps to increase soil temperatures
* Increases soil pore space - allows gaseous exchanges in the soil (oxygen in, carbon dioxide out) that improves root growth and development
* Aids integration of topdressings into the soil profile
* Aids the breakdown of thatch/organic matter
* Promotes better surface levels that will increase ball roll /speed
* Aids surface firmness/dryness, thereby increasing ball bounce and surface grip

We strongly believe that these benefits are worthy of a short spell of disruption and hope that this note helps to relieve some of the frustration you may feel when your game is impacted by this essential maintenance work.

What About Those Aeration Holes - Do You Get Relief?

Those aeration holes may be around for a couple weeks. If your golf ball comes to rest on an aeration hole, what's the ruling? Can I get relief? The answer is NO. Aeration holes do not qualify as an abnormal ground condition, because the governing bodies specifically say they do not qualify as "ground under repair".

Hope this is helpful

Head Greenkeeper

New Short Game Academy Course: Developing the Greens – Feb 26th 2017

As many of you will know, we have been investing a considerable amount of resource over the autumn and winter months in developing the new Short Game Academy Course.

In addition to employing three greenkeepers rather than two, we now have the ability to cut both sets of greens simultaneously.  Our new cutting cassettes are ready and waiting for action!

We have also been investing in a green development programme which has involved a number of important steps:

Levelling the greens

Carefully removing the lumps and bumps which would create problems for golfers and the mowers. This is an ongoing and time consuming process

Removing weeds

Following the use of a variety of weed killers; last week we applied T2 Green Pro. This is a premium selective herbicide for the control of a wide range of weeds, including difficult perennial weeds.

Accelerating Grass Growth

Last week we applied pigment to the greens to improve the health and accelerate growth of the natural grasses present.

As winter turns to spring (give or take the odd Storm Doris) we move to the next critical phase:

Soil Aeration

This week we will be hollow coring the academy greens to create the ideal basis for turf health and ultimately a high quality playing surface. We are effectively reconstructing the soil composition and enabling a high quality rooting system for the new grass. As we are blessed with a high quality chalk and shale natural drainage system, this new rooting system will have every advantage.

Soil Reconstruction - Top Dressing and Seeding

Having removed the 'plugs' or 'cores' from the greens we will top dress with a high quality 70/30 mix of sand/soil. The newly created root zone will be fertilised and seeded to ensure that we achieve a rapid transition during the early spring growing season. We will continue to top dress on an increasingly light basis throughout the first season - between 4 and 6 times. The soil recomposition will be fairly rapid and with little existing thatch or compaction, healthy grass growth has every chance of success.

We will keep you posted...

Head Greenkeeper