Castletown Golf Links
Thank you to all members who’ve taken the time to provide feedback of your recent experiences on the course. Open constructive discussion is vital if we are to achieve ongoing improvement and better experiences. There is a fine balance to be achieved to offer golfers of varying ability levels a fun and challenging, yet playable test of golf whilst all the while working with nature to maximize the character of the stunning landscape on Langness and stay inside the confines of what’s achievable financially.
In the past week we have spoken with some leading links courses including Silloth-on-Solway, Southport & Ainsdale, West Lancs, and Conwy to find out a little more about how their courses are setup. The average fairway width is widest at West Lancs at 35 yards. That compares to 25 – 30 yards at both Southport & Ainsdale and Silloth-on-Solway. The average total width of space available between heavy rough on the left side of a hole and heavy rough on the right side of a hole ranged from circa 40 yards wide at Silloth to 55 yards wide at Conwy and West Lancs. All courses cited that if you find the heavy rough you would be in a combination of dense grass or gorse or heathland.
How does this compare at Castletown? The 5th hole is currently our narrowest with 42 yards between heavy rough on the left side of the hole and the protective wooden posts on the right. Holes where members have been citing difficulty with the rough include 11 and 12. On the 11th hole the fairway ranges from 48 yards wide closer to the tee box narrowing to 36 yards wide where the longest hitters might go. The distance between heavy rough on both sides of the hole in the tee shot area is 50 – 70 yards. On the 12th hole the measurement is a 40-yard wide fairway for all but the longest hitters and a space of 55 – 60 yards between heavy rough. Our average fairway width is close to 40 yards and our average width between heavy rough where you might struggle to find your ball is 55 – 60 yards.
We completed an analysis of members at Castletown with active handicaps and at present we have a relatively even split. 114 members are playing from +1 – 13 handicaps. 140 members are playing from 13 – 20 handicaps. 110 members are playing from 21 or higher handicaps.
We have also looked at the number of ‘no returns’ registered in competitions at Castletown. This summer is on par with last summer - between 20 – 30 no returns - despite significant differences in the amount of rough on the golf course. Medal play is the only format that truly tests a player’s ability to score with every shot counting. Our feeling is that the 5th hole, with it’s out of bounds right, is an all too common denominator.
We strongly believe that it’s important that members are able to play from the tees that allow them to enjoy the Links to the fullest. Why? because golf should be about inclusion and making it possible for the maximum number of members to participate and enjoy the fun of club events. CONGU – the organization responsible for handicaps in the UK agree. Under the new course rating system currently being implemented across the UK there will no longer be tournament tees, competition tees, day-to-day/society tees, and ladies tees. There will just be different colours and any player could play from any tee, each tee obviously still retaining it’s own score rating relative to the par of the course.
The men’s committee is in agreement that beginning this Saturday, 15th July, there will be the opportunity for players to play from the white or yellow tees.
"Alongside of the efforts being made to make the course more playable we have decided, with immediate effect, to trial running separate Yellow tees qualifying Stableford competitions at the same time as the main competition being held each Saturday. Our competition sponsors are happy to support this initiative designed to make golf at Castletown even more enjoyable for all participants.
No minimum age or handicap restrictions will apply to the alternative yellow tee competitions and members can decide on the day which competition they wish to enter.
The entry fee for either competition will be £4 and the 2’s pot will be applied across both competitions. Prizes for the yellow tees competition will, to a certain extent, be dependent on entry numbers and may need to be subsidised by the club in order that we can pay out a satisfactory amount to at least the top three finishers."
How to make it possible for players to play from their chosen tees each week and all be included in the main prizes together?
The team at the Links has been working with our system provider, Intelligent Golf, to make it possible to run one competition from multiple tee boxes. For the purposes of competition results each player’s handicap will be adjusted in line with the difference between the SSS of the course from each different tee box, this makes it possible to level the playing field and is an operation completed automatically by the system, the player just has to choose which tee they played from and enter their gross scores as normal. As an example, if you normally play from a 12 handicap on the white tees the system will adjust your handicap to a 10 when playing from the yellow tees as the SSS from the yellows is 70 versus 72 from the whites i.e. as standard the course is expected to play 2 shots easier.
For the purposes of handicap adjustment however, each player’s handicap will be adjusted in relation to his or her full current handicap. The expectation would be that over the course of a few competitions it will be easy to determine how even the playing field is between white and yellow tees given the 2-stroke difference currently in place between the SSS of the yellow and white tees. This could also be extended to all other tee boxes accordingly.
In the beginning the competitions will be run seperately and prizes will therefore be awarded relative to the number of players taking part on each tee, this will mean that the yellow tee golfers will not be eligible for the main prize or trophy on a given Saturday - but importantly this should only be a short-term issue until enough competitions have been played on this basis to gauge a good feeling for how much easier playing the course from the yellow tees will be.
The committee has agreed to implement ‘Ready Golf’ for all club competitions. Guidelines in relation to ‘Ready Golf’ are included below.
‘Ready golf’ is a commonly used term which indicates that players should play when they are ready to do so, rather than adhering strictly to the “farthest from the hole plays first” stipulation in the Rules of Golf.
When “ready golf” is being encouraged, players have to act sensibly to ensure that playing out of turn does not endanger other players. Examples of “ready golf” in action are:
The R&A are finally thinking forward and taking steps to make the rules of golf simpler and to allow courses to determine their own “penalty areas” and how those areas should be treated. These new rules are due to come in from 1st Jan 2019 and will help make courses more playable by allowing them to make punishment for off line shots slightly less penal.
In the interim we have asked representatives of the IOMGU to come down to Castletown next Tuesday and help us determine what is necessary to change the status of the right side of the 5th hole from out of bounds to being a water hazard. Taking away the requirement to re-load on this tee should make the hole much more playable and reduce the number of no-returns. We’ll keep members updated on progress here.