In a GCMA Hot Topics webinar, STRI Group’s Paul Woodham and Rain Bird’s Shaun Anderson dispensed valuable advice to clubs on how to deal with the drought conditions and public expectation... Golf clubs must be tuned into the public mood and communication – both with members and neighbours – is key to getting the sport through the UK’s summer drought. Shaun Anderson, golf sales specialist at Rain Bird, and Paul Woodham, head of agronomy at STRI Group, told a GCMA Hot Topics webinar the sport couldn’t appear “tone deaf” as temporary use bans stopped people using hosepipes, while courses irrigated under exemptions. Woodham warned that the “visible scars” of the searing temperatures would leave their mark and urged course managers to start thinking much earlier about where their turf could struggle – both in winter and summer. “People will be frustrated but perfection at the moment is not going to be sustainably achieved. It just simply isn’t,” he said. He added: “We've got to be careful. We've got to be tuned into the public perception and not appear to be tone deaf. I was at a course where an email came in from a neighbour, ‘what are the club doing?’ “It’s a small percentage of areas we are trying to irrigate. We’re trying to maintain turf health responsibly on the greens, and probably to our tees, but most courses will probably have dialled down the irrigation into other areas because we simply haven’t got enough. “There are limitations in terms of water restrictions and Temporary Use Bans – and that might be a request or it might be a constraint. “We've got to be very aware of those, and it’s dead easy for me as an agronomist to say ‘hand watering’, but we might be restricted.” Woodham said the conditions seen at courses around the UK were part of climatic patterns that began in March and April and he believed clubs may need to use more protective measures throughout the year to try and restrict damage when extreme weather arrives. “It's probably unrealistic to expect in this heat that people not take buggies out but I’ve seen some success with courses trying to encourage golf buggy traffic into the rough a little bit more,” he explained. “In winter, we’re accustomed to ropes in front of greens to protect the green surrounds. I see that, potentially, as being more of an all-round thing in pinch point areas. “We’re already thinking about reparations and recovery. We’re thinking, ‘we’re going to seed’, and there’s a cost to that but there’s a failure cost as well – when we might get bad winters, or dry springs. The night-time temperatures in spring have been so poor for growth over the last couple of years. “Prevention and proactive management is key. We’re in emergency [mode right now] but, in the winter, we need to start thinking about droughts. “That’s not talking about water harvesting. It’s talking about, ‘where are my areas going to show up?’ In...
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