BIGGA chief executive Jim Croxton says greenkeepers and club managers will need to work together to communicate the challenges courses face in the coming years... As GCMA members you are well aware of the important role greenkeepers play in the success of any golfing facility. Indeed, as the golf industry celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Old Tom Morris throughout June, it strikes me that this remains as true today as it was in the latter part of the 19th Century, when Tom was helping define the sport as we know it today. I’m writing to you as BIGGA undertakes an intensive period of activity relating to the ongoing problem of leatherjackets and chafer grubs on golf courses. And yet as I write, I’m aware that leatherjackets are just one of a number of challenges that our members face every day. This spring the uppermost challenge has manifested itself in the larval stage of the cranefly, also known as daddy longlegs. Perhaps you’ve been lucky and you’ve seen little damage, or been one of the unfortunate ones whose fairways and/or greens have seen significant rates of infestation, causing reduced plant health, areas of bare earth as turf dies back and overturned areas caused by predation. Whichever is the case, this is an industry-wide problem and it has been disheartening to see so many greenkeepers suffering on social media. We hosted a webinar recently about the situation, which highlighted how the problem has escalated since the removal of the previously widely used pesticide Chlorpyrifos in 2016. There are a range of potential and part solutions available but currently none is as effective and simple to apply as we had access to in the past. We are hopeful that more solutions will emerge and current ones will improve or be proven but as things stand these insect pests are going to be a challenge for a while and we need to educate golfers about that. BIGGA has recently compiled a White Paper on the topic of leatherjacket and pest control and we sincerely hope the industry will join together to tackle the challenges faced and communicate them far and wide. Sadly, a selection of our members often tell us they feel alone when it comes to facing the many difficulties inherent in preparing their course. Some perhaps aren’t as well versed at communicating as they would like and we continue to provide opportunities to improve that from our side. However, your help in supporting your greenkeeping team is greatly appreciated. If you are speaking to them about the difficulties they face throughout the year and beginning an ongoing dialogue built on mutual trust and respect then it will undoubtedly build a stronger team from which the facility can only benefit. I know most of you will do already, but please stand up for them whenever the need arises. Greenkeepers care deeply about the course they prepare and all are disheartened when the standards they strive towards aren’t achievable, through no fault of their own. Leatherjackets and chafer grubs are just one of the multitude of challenges the golf industry will face in the coming years. We face a number of challenges related to climate change, resource availability and regulatory shifts. It may be that by the end of this decade golf courses will be partially prepared...
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