Course is under the microscope.
JONATHAN Lupton, The Journal’s Dr Jonathan, tees off in the
BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth today, alongside major winners Ernie
Els and Padraig Harrington.
Also in the field are the four Englishmen in the world top 20 –. Lee
Westwood (third), Ian Poulter (sixth), defending champion Paul Casey (eighth) and Luke Donald (18th).
Back in Northumberland, his boss at Close House, John Glendinning,
will switch on his HD TV when he gets home from work this evening then
use the pause button and a magnifying glass to examine improvements made
to Wentworth’s previously much-maligned West Course greens.
Wentworth’s reconstruction for the only European Tour event on
English soil this season has been undertaken by the Wiltshire-based firm
This is the same company who are building the second course at
Close House, The Colt Course, scheduled to open next spring at an
estimated cost of pounds 4m in time to host The Journal Champion of
Champions on Sunday September 4, 2011.
MJ Abbott’s work on the West Course has been so extensive –.
the closing hole. Example is completely transformed —. That Barnard
Castle’s Robert Dinwiddie, who shot 63 to break the course record
during the 2008 PGA Championship, has become the final holder of the old
Now back on the Challenge Tour, Dinwiddie, already a winner this
season, plays in Florence this week.
In the past, the Wentworth greens have caused one of the
decade’s biggest golfing controversies and have been severely
criticised, particularly by triple major winner Harrington and Poulter.
Both boycotted the tournament in 2008 and 2009. Harrington,
renowned for his putting, said they were unpredictable and that the
thatch in the greens made them “completely unreadable”.
Glendinning, the Close House golf manager, said: “Whatever
their greens were like in the past had nothing to do with MJ Abbott and
I was delighted to read a report that Harrington reckons they're
‘fine’. Now and that the first time he played on them, he'd
11 single putts.
“He said there are a lot more flat areas and hollows which
allow for a lot more pin positions.
“I believe the fact we've hired the same firm as a massive
name in the game like Wentworth says a lot about the commitment of our
owner, Graham Wylie, to providing only the very best for golfers in our
region. I know other people might think my taking a microscope to the TV
screen is going a bit far. I don’t care.
“I want to see for myself when the tournament starts.
It’s not the same as being there, but, even so, you can read a lot
into the grains of the grass on HD TV and greens, like the people who
work there, make a golf club.
“Our Colt Course greens are all being cut with hand mowers
and, even when the course is open, we plan to carry on doing that.
“This is more labor intensive. It reduces compaction by
not using heavier machines. The better quality cut makes the green run
In tough times when greenkeepers are losing jobs, Close House have
doubled their greenkeeping and estates staff to 20 this year. Some of
the new recruits have been brought in from up-market venues, including
James Leighton (Wentworth), Aidan Love (Loch Lomond) and Kevin Wright
(De Vere Slaley Hall).
Glendinning added: “James has spent the last six months
helping to rebuild Wentworth before joining us. He’s been able
to give Jonathan a bit of an inside track on their greens before our man
went down to Surrey for the PGA. Putting is usually Jonathan’s
strong point. Here’s hoping! “All of us here wish him the
best of luck in the tournament. He’s a lovely lad, a patient coach
with a great attitude to his teaching and so passionate about the sport,
he loves talking golf with anyone.”.
The 31-year-old Lupton, the PGA North East North West champion,
qualified for Wentworth by capturing last year’s PGA Assistants
Championship at The London Club in Kent. He won by 10 shots, laying to
waste a field of Britain’s finest young pros over the former
European Open course.
While Close House may be only a 15-minute drive from
Newcastle’s city center, Sky TV’s Wentworth coverage will also
attract particular interest at Middlesbrough’s Brass Castle –. The
club Lupton represented when, as an amateur, he won the English and
Welsh strokeplay championships and the Northern Boys title.
HELPING GET KIDS INTERESTED IN GOLF A GOLF academy and custom fit
center is opening at Close House next month and Jonathan Lupton, the
head teaching professional, is the man in charge.
“When I got the job at Close House, I soon learned the owner,
Graham Wylie, wanted to push Close House into the community and engage
youngsters in the city at the club, even though the golf establishment
will be at the top end of the market.
The academy will offer a cafe, 10 covered driving range bays with
Powertee mats, 10 outdoor mats, a short game practice area, a video
teaching bay and custom fitting suite.
Lupton is evangelical about coaching and after two practice rounds
for the PGA Championship this week, he spent yesterday helping out in
the Golf Foundation’s teaching bay at Wentworth. “We got
involved in the schools and, during half-term, we coached 12 hours a
week. On the back of that and other coaching we were offered the City
Roots project and now we’re the center for golf in Newcastle.
“It was because of my involvement in that, I did this teaching at
Wentworth for the big national launch.”.
His involvement there, on the eve of such a big event, underlines
why Close House has been chosen as the center for the foundation’s
City Roots project in Newcastle. Yesterday brought the national launch
of the project at Wentworth.
Born in Yarm, Lupton said: PARENTS and schools who want to know
more about the Close House Academy or the City Roots project. Both,
should get in touch with Lupton. You’ll find the contact details on
our Dr Jonathan column.
THREE AMIGOS From left, Aidan Love, Kevin Wright and James
Leighton. PICTURE: Lewis Arnold
Course Is Under The Microscope.
Course Is Under The Microscope.
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