Court Surface Survey Results 2023

Court Surface Survey Results 2023 –

Firstly, many thanks to all of you who responded to the survey on court resurfacing. It’s essential that we get member feedback on all manner of club matters, and your comments on this subject have been much appreciated. I apologise for the length of the communication, but there quite a few comments to respond to, so bear with me!

The survey was initially presented based on the prospect of replacing courts 4&5 later this year, with the need to fund work up front as a consequence. The committee spoke to two reputable contractors, with each asked to quote for court replacement with tarmac, artificial grass and artificial clay. We are satisfied that these represent the current market rates for these works, especially given recent inflation cost spikes which have clearly not helped!

The indicated cost to renew both courts with tarmac was £27,500.  The cost of installing a different surface was £71,000 for Tigerturf and £81,500 for artificial clay.

Historically, allocations to the sinking fund have been made assuming that tarmac would remain the preferred surface and, although there is some head room in our reserves over and above the amounts required to go down the tarmac route, a move to either artificial grass or clay would require additional funding in the form of loans, grants, significantly increased cost to members in the form of a one off charge (around £280 per adult member), or/and a steady increase in future annual membership fees.

As I mentioned on the front page note of the survey, the LTA will not authorise an interest free loan for the purpose of upgrading courts from tarmac to Astro or clay. Bank loans, even if obtainable, would attract interest charges, and I’m not sure that the club wants to go down this route. LTA grants are usually only given for relatively small items of expenditure.

A large part of the membership have stated they don’t want to pay the extra £280 to prefund the change in surface, and we would never risk losing members as a consequence of this.

I can fully understand a few of your comments stating that it would be unfair to charge the current membership the extra one off £280 fee this year, for something that some members might not derive benefit from in future years, plus new members joining in future would not have contributed to the cost of the new surfaces (if Astro or clay were laid). On the basis of the presented survey, 80% of you voted to keep a tarmac surface. Members have commented on surfaces at other clubs where they had changed to Tigerturf from tarmac. Although some other local clubs’ membership fees are currently similar to ours, we cannot offer direct financial comparisons as we are not privy to the full details of their cost structure and sources of income/external funding at the time they made the decision to switch.

There was comment that artificial Clay might not be able to be used on these courts because of the maintenance burden, with Tigerturf maintenance potentially a lower cost than tarmac, and Tiger turf being far superior to tarmac in terms of it being a true all weather surface, with members getting a proper winter playing surface.

As for maintenance costs, the contractors have suggested these are similar for all surfaces, but clay needs members to co-operate with sweeping courts after use to keep the clay in place.  We also need to be sure about future replacement costs for Astro, because it may require work on the tarmac subsurface as well at the time of future replacement. Some commentary was made on whether resurfacing is necessary at all, with court 4 understood to be just 6 years old. However, this and court 5 are more like 10-12 years old now, with an interim repaint being done on court 4 in 2018, and court 5 the year before that.

More recently, both these courts had again started to look pretty faded with an uneven colour, which may just be a consequence of the age of the paint, but it may be affected by the surface as well. When court 4 was last re-laid, it was thought that the likely life cycle of it was about 10 years, but that’s based on a host of variables including intensity of court use, subsurface conditions and prevailing weather.   Courts 1-3 previously lasted for quite a lot longer than expected before we relaid them, and on talking to the contractor when they did the work on 1-3, they suggested that we should see a minimum of 12 years use, but perhaps more.

A couple of member comments had also suggested determining if court 4 & 5 can wait until courts 1-3 are due works, giving us a longer period to raise funds internally, with a view to then relaying all 5 courts with the same surface. However, this might not be financially viable. If spreading the cost of upgrading two courts to astro/clay across the membership is difficult, then doing so for five courts will be a lot more so!  It is yet to be determined if there would be a financial advantage to doing them all at once, but we will continue to monitor this element in future.

With all this in mind, you will have noted that we have just had some minor repairs and a repaint job done on courts 4&5 as a short-term solution. There are some historical concerns about the base deterioration of these courts, which we feel may make an eventual move to another surface counterproductive as it stands now.

Court 4 behind the baseline by the football /carpark end is cracked. This is where we fixed it years ago with a big patch as you can see if you look closely.  With court 5, the same applies at the tree end behind the baseline, but also with poor drainage at the tree end corner as many of you will already have witnessed. The base quality of these courts is critical if we are thinking of switching to tigerturf or clay, and if the recent minor fix and repaint can give these courts a few more years, we will have more time to save money if we decide on a different surface, especially as we might not get a second chance if it fails.

Therefore, although it will be important to call in an engineer eventually to thoroughly inspect courts 4&5 to assess the current base/subsurface quality, as well as the drainage issue, we have decided to defer this inspection, rather than targeting a whole resurface this year. In saying this, our first concern is to ensure that we have safe and viable playing surfaces at the club.

Whilst deferring these inspections, I am very mindful of the drainage issue at the back of court 5, and will be looking into potentially short term solutions to alleviate this issue, after which time I will report to you all.

As well as clarifying our court options from a technical perspective, we will continue to research potential sources of external funding as a means to finance wholly or partly upgrading to a different surface. On reflection, I believe that rather than having the work done this year, that we should delay any decisions on this until at least next year (or longer), pending further attempts at meeting the cost of the more expensive surfaces via fundraising and/or sponsorship activity attempts, rather than the membership bearing this cost directly.


This will also allow us to build up further monetary allocation to the court 4&5 sinking fund from membership fees in future, to get us closer to being able to afford the surface upgrades. When viable plans can be established, I will invite further opinion whilst consulting with members.


Thanks again for your feedback, and I hope this note has answered some of your queries and concerns, and I’ll keep you all posted on developments throughout this and next year. If anyone would like to raise any further queries or suggest anything to assist on these matters, please don’t hesitate to contact me on the email address below.

Kind regards

Kevin Wilks

Hon Treasurer BFTC