GripClad used to prevent slippage on golf courses (sponsored story)

By Alistair December 2, 2014 15:23

A new product is helping golf course managers ensure that golfers and other walkers do not slip over while out on the course.

GripClad is glass-reinforced plastic, supplied in 8×4 feet sheets and cut to customer specification. It is 5ml thick, rigid and has gritty material embedded in the surface to create a non-slip surface.

06-08 langley 2 photo

Stuart Yarwood, course manager at Lymm Golf Club, Cheshire, has used GripClad for the last decade and is delighted with its performance.

The product was installed at Lymm to remedy a problem following the installation of wooden railway sleeper steps in the banks of the tees, which over the years had been chipped away by golfers’ spikes.

Each sleeper step is four feet wide and the GripClad material was cut into six inches by four feet strips, with holes drilled in the sheet then screwed into each step. Each 8×4 feet panel makes 16 of the four feet by six inch strips, so covers 16 steps.

“It’s a fit and forget solution,” said Yarwood. “Job done, and it’s made to last. We trialled it successfully on winter tee steps before rolling out the material onto all our tee steps (on 14 holes).

“At about £400 for each sheet, GripClad is good value for money because it lasts so long. Aside from golfers, the course is crossed by public footpaths, so public safety has to be considered too,” Yarwood explained.

Qualified in health and safety, Yarwood maintains a practical approach to managing risk on the heathland / parkland course – originally nine holes before being extended to 18 in the 1970s.

“We tend to adopt a common sense stance and try and use signage as a last resort but you cannot legislate for that sometimes.” That management style has worked though, he added. “In 30 years we had no instances of accidents but even so, we decided to erect signs warning of deep water, as there are plenty of ponds and lakes on the course.

“We have an operating culture of work safety and try to educate members by highlighting any potential hazards in the newsletter that they receive every month.”

The risk of slippage can be a real headache for course managers, but each has their own way of remedying the problem. Unlike Yarwood, Chris Toop, course manager at Langley Park Golf Club, Kent, opted to cover his sleeper tee steps with artificial grass. “The contrast between the brown sleepers and green turf was aesthetically pleasing but members prefer things to be perfect so we covered the steps (on 15 holes) with artificial grass,” he explained.

“The solution worked for a while but the surface became a trip and slip hazard pretty soon. Foxes chewed it and there was significant material build-up, including moss, which we had to keep spraying with weedkiller. Occasionally, machines caught the grass as well, which made matters worse.”

The risk of slipping really hit home when a lady member slipped on the steps and broke her wrist. Rather than pursue a legal course of action she instead asked what could be done to improve safety levels.

So, last winter Toop decided to test GripClad on the steps of one of the club’s tees and on one of its high greens. “It was simple to fix and looks attractive,” he explained. “The feedback from members was very positive so we’ve now replaced all the artificial grass and I’m thinking about surfacing our wooden bridges, too. I expect the product to last twice as long as the artificial turf.”

Sited in leafy London borough of Bromley, Langley Park GC boasts a rich array of trees, the most notable of which is a selection of impressive oaks; unsurprising for a county that Henry VIII plundered for wood for naval shipping.

06-08 langley photo

Despite their beauty, the trees are the “the bane of my life”, admitted Toop, who has worked his way up the career ladder since his first days at Langley Park.

“The majority of our winters are centred around blowing and collecting leaves and managing trees. This leaves very little opportunity to undertake other developments and improvements on the course. My advice would be this: think very carefully when planting new trees and develop a rigid tree management plan.

“We have a large perimeter and there’s a public road that splits the course, nine holes either side. Every two or three years we call in a firm of independent tree surgeons to prepare a survey for us and we tend to handle the work in-house, which includes managing the trees that line the public road. It’s down to us as the trees grow on our side of the fence,” said Toop. “They will contact us sometimes if foliage is obscuring the street lighting.”


By Alistair December 2, 2014 15:23

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