We have to go back to the first week in September to find a week without rain, whilst October produced more than double our normal rainfall. The first week the month delivered 16 mm, of which Thursday night contributed 10 mm. Nearby Bromborough had 17 mm that night. Unsurprisingly, local courses are shut - one of our neighbours has been closed for more than 10 consecutive days. Not only is there frequent rain but it’s also perpetually humid. We need decent winds and a moisture-free atmosphere (frosts?) to dry things out, but there is no immediate sign of either.
We have to close the course when there is free water on the surface, either visibly or around a footprint. We go to 'carry-only' when the surface is ‘squishy’ under foot, which is a more subjective judgement. The course has a (far too) thin layer of turf/topsoil overlaying more or less impermeable clay. Under traffic, when the surface layer is saturated, it will slide over the clay layer and tear, which causes damage that will not repair until growth returns in the Spring - or, worse, it forms into ruts that can become baked in. It might not seem like it until we compare our recent course availability with other local courses, but the drainage improvements in the past 2-3 years have made a real difference. The main test area is across the 15th, 14th, and 1st, which form a shallow valley from the 9th down to the brook.
Gavin managed to cut the greens on Monday for the first time in 10 days. This yielded 4-5 times a normal quantity of cuttings - there is still growth. Since then, we can’t get machines on the greens because of the soft surrounds. Another casualty of all the rain is the bunkers, which regularly are being washed in and have to be restored. We can only tackle jobs which can be reached by path (e.g. the 10th path) or on foot. Around 40 weak or dead trees around the course have been identified and are being taken out, ahead of normal seasonal pruning which typically happens in January. Mats have been put out on the short holes: normally we hold these back to the end of the year but the soft conditions make these tees very vulnerable.
12 November 2023