Water on the Course


Senior Men’s Section Golfers approaching the 18th green may have noticed works carried out in the groundsman’s compound recently which were completed in January 2018. New water tanks have been constructed to replace those installed in the 1960’s which were leaking.

Bob Harvey – Captain, 1977 and 1991

This is part of a transcription of a conversation Bob had with Graham Lawrence on 12 January 2006.

In 1961 when I started playing golf at Corhampton the only water into the club house was from rain gathered off the roof into a tank that was half in and half out of kitchen. The roof was made of asbestos but fortunately we all survived.

When we first laid water to the course, in the early sixties, it came from the farm on the left hand side at the top of Park Lane. We had a 1.5 inch polythene pipe moled in from the water meter to just south of where the bungalow is now. One branch of the pipe went into the bungalow and the other branch went into a storage tank to be used for watering the greens. The tank held about 1000 gallons and was sited close to the end of the old clubhouse. I remember Ron Crockford almost blew himself up. The tank had an electric pump which exploded one morning and Ron burnt his hand . Eventually the water pipe was taken across the edge of the eighteenth green into the copse where it went into a tank which I built. It was made from a set of corrugated iron sheets bolted together to form a circle which was fixed to a concrete base built by Tug Wilson. the greenkeeper. Inside was a butyl liner which overlapped the top edge and was held in place by rope. The tank held about 8000 gallons. We installed a valve in the pipe which enabled the club to be supplied with water during the daytime. The valve was on a time switch so that the storage tank in the copse could only be filled at night time. Having built the tank we then installed the necessary pumping equipment. George Smith built a mole plough in his workshop with which we could take a water pipe to various points on the course to provide irrigation for the greens. The implementation of this irrigation system was supervised by Tug Wilson.

Tug Wilson was an ex-naval man married to Norah. His first name was Bill. He planted all the trees along the roadside of the current fifth hole. Tug also planted the hawthorn hedge down the roadside of the first hole and along the Corhampton to Bishops Waltham road.

As there was not really enough water for the club’s needs we went about getting a bore hole sunk. In order to get a bore hole sunk the club had to apply for a licence. which it did in March, 1965. The club had to advertise the quest for a licence to abstract water in two newspapers. So as not to upset the local community the papers in which the scheme was advertised were the Manchester Evening News and the London Gazette. There were no objections. We had a water diviner come and tell us where the bore hole should be sunk. He used a Y shaped piece of hazel which really did twist up when he got to the spot where he suggested the bore hole should be sunk. He said we’d hit water at 270 feet but it would be in shale and we would need to go to more than 400 feet to get a better flow. Eventually a company, Green and Carter, from Winchester turned up at the golf club with this fairly antiquated equipment to sink the bore hole. A man with a piece of string felt the weight of the drill going down the hole. It wasn’t actually drilled but pounded by a large metal rod. He could tell by the feel how far down the hole was going. He was obviously very experienced at what he was doing. The hole was 6 to 8 inches in diameter. I think there is a piece of flint about 4 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick that was brought up from the hole. It should be in the clubhouse somewhere. An electric submersible pump was installed at the bottom of the bore hole. When the water first came out it was completely white, being full of chalk. We piped the water to the old storage tank by the club house.

Bob Goble – Captain, 1980

This is part of the transcription of a conversation Bob had with Graham Lawrence on 16 October 2006.

When I was chairman of the Greens Committee during the early eighties, a computerised panel was installed to automate the operating of the pop-ups for the sprinkler system. The head greenkeeper determines when the sprinklers are to operate and sets up the computer. That’s all housed down in the maintenance compound.  Bill Wilson (ex-captain) was also on the Greens Committee. He worked on the course as head greenkeeper. After Bill as head greenkeeper came Maurie Salter and then in 1980 came Mike Smith, who has been there ever since.

Mike Smith – Head Greenkeeper since 1988

This is part of a transcription of a conversation Mike had with Graham Lawrence on 9 June 2008.

We have a bore hole situated in the green keepers’ area. We are licensed to take 1 million gallons between April and October. The seasons are definitely changing. In February we have had drought conditions. The greens get cold, frosty, dry and hard. The rest of the water comes in a four inch main from a mile away in Upper Swanmore. We are making more use of wetting agents. These are similar to washing up liquids and increase the ability of the soil to absorb the water. We used to use them as an after thought. If we had a dry patch we would apply a wetting agent. Now we add large pellets to the water tanks and it is spread over the course. The Environmental Officer loves it because it reduces our water usage by half. The Environmental Officer visits us twice a year to check the metre on the bore hole. Ten years ago the pump at the bottom of the 240 foot bore hole broke down and had to be replaced. It had been there for more than twenty years. I wanted to put in a more powerful one but there was no point as we are only allowed to draw off the million gallons over seven months. Two or three years ago the pump was sucking up rubbish as the level of water had dropped. We can store twenty thousand gallons of water which would give us two or three nights of watering. Unlike up in Yorkshire where they have reservoirs we don’t have any down here in Hampshire so when everyone draws water at the same time it can be a problem.

New Drinking Fountain built at 10th Tee in 2018 utilising the existing water supply following the demolition of Dacombe’s Den