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The Compaq European Grand Prix may have finished for 2000 but behind the scenes preparation for next year’s event is just beginning at Slaley Hall in Northumberland.

Top agronomists and Slaley’s green keepers have already started working on programmes and schedules covering aeration, hollow tinning, verti-draining, and over-seeding with strains of hybrid grasses on the tees, fairways, semi-rough and greens.

Mark Stancer, golf operations manager at Slaley Hall explains: “Comments from those who took part in the tournament play a major role in shaping these preparations. Over the last 12 months alone, player feedback has resulted in the some subtle changes on Slaley’s two championship golf courses, including new bunkers, new tee positions and reshaping of the fairways.

“Such feedback is very important to us, particularly as professional golfers travel the world and tell others about their experiences. We want to ensure that Slaley is one course they do remember, but for all the right reasons.

“In addition to the changes brought about by player feedback, two other major projects have been undertaken to rebuild the 3rd and 7th greens and updating the drainage system on the Hunting course, making a total investment of over £250k.”

Detailed planning for the tournament starts some four or five months before it takes place with infrastructure site meetings, the ordering of equipment such as marquees and scoring units, the appointment of catering and administration teams as well as the preparation for the recruitment of the 250 marshals and score board operators required during the tournament.”

During the winter months, special covers on the greens will be used to promote growth and provide a head start when spring 2001 arrives.

Tournament countdown

Ten to 12 weeks to go:

  • Top dressing and fertilising programmes start and the greens are cut daily

Three weeks before to go:

  • Last top dressings are applied and extra mowers are ordered to handle the increase in activity

Two weeks to go:

  • Greens are cut shorter, from 5mm to 3.5mm, with cutting taking place twice a day and the fairways being cut daily

One week to go:

  • Greens are now being cut to 2.9mm, four times a day
  • Sky TV move on site to install over 70 miles of cabling on the estate, which will supply 4 hours per day of coverage in 48 different countries
  • Twelve miles of rope and pins for crowd control are erected around the golf course and a grandstand seating 400 people is erected on the 18th green
  • Player support, physio and player equipment/workshop units arrive on site
  • Final arrangements, including liaison with the local authority, police, St John’s Ambulance, a team of paramedics and huge tournament doctor takes place
  • Co-ordination of traffic signage, internal and spectator signage, advertising boards and hoardings is finalised

“There is an awful lot of planning which goes into the tournament behind the scenes, so that everything runs smoothly during the event and the golf courses are at their absolute best,” said Mark Stancer.

The next major event to take place at Staley Hall is the PGA North Region Championship at the beginning of August, with the Compaq European Grand Prix scheduled for 2001.