It’s hard to focus on anything other than the Coronavirus crisis, such as it’s influence on every part of our daily lives.
In this month’s update I will explain how the Greenkeeping team are dealing with both our safety, the security of Hunley and the essential maintenance of the golf course.
Having had to furlough most staff throughout the business, it was felt that the course would still require 4 Greenkeepers to carry out essential maintenance. In an ever changing situation though, this will be reviewed periodically and may change depending on the length of time restrictions are in place.
The R & A have issued guidance for Greenkeepers on both safety and essential maintenance, outlining what this means for us and with recommendations.
Using this guidance we have been able to tailor a maintenance program to suit the needs of Hunley.
In order to follow government social distancing guidelines we have split our team up to minimise human contact as much as possible. 2 Greenkeepers will be onsite each day and will be working slighty longer days than normal. This means that each member of staff only has to make the journey into work 4 days per week.
Regular disinfecting of surfaces, machinery and tools is carried out and this is being done several times a day.
Food for break times is being prepared at home and eaten alone away from other staff and clothing is being kept in cars to be put on before entering the facility, then being removed again back at individuals cars.
Regular hand washing is the key fundamental and all staff are maintaining good hygiene throughout.
Splitting our team allows us to cover 7 days each week, meaning there is at least a presence for the most part to protect the facilities during the difficult days and weeks ahead.
Unfortunately, we have already experienced problems though.
Criminals have targeted the nearby farmer and stolen his quad bike. They did so using Hunley to access his farm and stole one of our buggies as part of the crime, causing significant damage in the process.
Only a couple of days later the irrigation system was targeted. This was also a very specific cime carried out by someone who new what they were doing. All but 2 of the valves that operate greens sprinklers had been tampered with, removing parts from the top of the valves and it is possible this was a theft.
Less serious but also an issue has been from trespassing. As people know the course is closed, there have been many members of the public walking dogs across the course etc. This has led to us having to confront people and is not only distracting us from the essential work we are there for, but also putting us at unnecessary risk.
Most are understanding but we have also had some unpleasant exchanges and also some low level vandalism.
We have been working with the police and doing everything we can to safeguard ourselves and the facilities, but we are now looking into private security to patrol regularly at times when the problems have been occuring.
It’s terribly frustrating having to deal with these kind of issues, especially in the current climate, but we’re doing everything we can under the circumstances.
On the course we are simply ensuring that it will be in a fit state for play when the time comes to reopen.
This really is just mowing the key playing areas of the course. The following outlines our startegy for maintenance.
- Greens are being mown once a week currently but this will likely increase in the coming weeks.
- Tees, fairways and semi rough are being mown once per week and this will continue to be the case going forward.
- All fringing roughs have had an initial cut over the last 2 weeks. This should not require any attention now for the next couple of months and has been done specifically with the current situation in mind.
- The irrigation system has been opened up and all greens have been treated with wetting agent and then deep watered. Deep watering will be carried out as and when necessary, but even under dry conditions should only be fortnightly. Any rains will obviously negate any need for watering.
- Machinery will be cared for under normal maintenance regimes.
- The driving range has been treated with a very low rate of Glysophate. This is a total weedkiller, however under the circumstances will act as a growth suppressant. Turf quality on the range may be adversely affected but this will allow us the time to maintain more critical areas.
A Positive Note To Finish
I’d like to finally say a huge thank you to our membership. Despite the forced course closure and the deferral of fees, it has been very humbling to have seen the vast majority of members choose to pay their fees anyway. This is greatly appreciated and will go a long way towards ensuring the course will be in top condition once play can resume.
Understandably this has been a more negative blog than normal, so to finish it’s worth pointing out that there’s plenty to look forward to.
Work carried out through the winter has all been a success and will be ready for use when the course reopens.
The new hole on Rawcliffe and the changes on Snaith’s have made an enormous difference to both the visual and playing characteristics of the 2 holes.
The condition of the course has never been better and the greens in particular are in incredible shape. Fringing roughs are thin and whispy and are begining to demonstrate the benefits of our management, with finer grasses dominating and wildflowers begining to increase after gaining a foothold.
We can only hope that things quickly improve and that the effect of this virus doesn’t result in longer term lockdown.
With that in mind, please look after yourselves and follow the advice of the government in order to protect yourselves and others. If we can do that then we’ll be able to return to golf before too long.
See you all soon!