Grass Clippings

As we roll into December, the wet weather of late continues to hamper work outside. We are heading towards 900mm of rain this year to date with above average rainfall this autumn. It seems to be panning out very much as last year in that we started with a mild, wet period which was interrupted with a fleeting snowy week before last Christmas.

This year, the snow line didn’t reach the southwest area, so we have evaded a white out for now. The ground conditions indicate that the water table has risen up again and additional rainfall is now very slow to drain away. On the golf course, the saturated state means temporary greens are being used and we need to be careful on the activities we undertake on the course.

The tennis courts are coping once surface water has drained away. We have found this season that the practice court number 11 is holding water on the northern side so we are looking at a drainage solution for this.  The drainage we installed on the croquet lawns a few years ago is actively helping to keep them playable during the winter. There is a chance of snow during the festive season, so we are watching and waiting to see what happens.

In all, reviewing the last twelve months, we have had a particularly good year looking through our weather lens and how it has affected our plans and how we can manage each sport over the entire year. 2023 gave us a ‘Goldilocks’ scenario in that there was just enough rain and just enough heat and sunlight to enable grass growth to be at its optimum for the corresponding season.

We did not have any shock heatwaves that caused stress on the grass and the transition from spring to summer allowed for seeding and aeration operations to be completed with the desired effect. It all transpired seamlessly, thankfully because of the weather conditions were so good, which resulted in the presentation maintenance being as good as we could hope for. Almost into the realm of perfection, for a sports professional.

Unfortunately, years like these are few and far between and who knows what next year will bring? More rain to hinder us or searing heat which will stress the grass into dormancy? No two years are the same and the skill is to compensate as much as we can for the conditions that weather creates. Sports Surface Management is very much a profession where the environment dictates to us the conditions by which we work, and the rules of nature are what we have to play with. Very few other vocations have to deal with such circumstances, agriculture is similar to a point but growing a crop and producing a sports surface for people to play are two entirely different disciplines with a different set of regulations to abide by.

Add in the factor, that for golf, tennis and croquet, the preferences for quality playing surfaces are entirely different for each sport and there you have a conundrum which has to be resolved each day. It’s part of the challenge but also part of the frustration. Looking forward into the new year, the slate will be wiped clean and (in course and grounds) we will start a new year afresh and look to how we can take on the challenges one blade of grass at a time.

From all the team in Course and Grounds, we wish all our Members a very happy Christmas and all best wishes for the coming year.

Peter Bradburn, Course and Grounds Director