Golf Club Feels The Heat: The impact of the UK’s current heatwave can be seen at Oxford Golf Club.
Just a month ago Oxfordshire’s oldest golf course resembled a lush green oasis, but after the driest June on record, the fairways have frazzled.
Now the most verdant parts of the course on Hill Top Road, Headington, are the greens and tees, which are watered via an irrigation system.
Doug MacGregor, the club’s head greenkeeper, said: “I’ve been a greenkeeper for 25 years in Oxford and Scotland and these are some of the most extreme weather conditions I’ve experienced.”
Meanwhile in Oxford University Parks, walkers are likely to have blamed falling water levels in the pond on the scorching weather.
It is thought hundreds of fish died last week after levels plummeted rapidly, but the water loss was not the result of evaporation – the university suspects river gates on the Cherwell were opened to increase depth of water downstream, without realising the implications.
Golf club worker Mr MacGregor took a photo of the course one month ago and again this week from the 10th hole, to demonstrate the impact the weather can have.
The experienced greenkeeper and his team of five are working to keep the course in good shape amid sizzling temperatures of up to 30 degrees C, with the hot spell set to continue this week.
Mr MacGregor added: “We had a tough winter but came through it and then had a very wet period and a lot of grass growth before the heatwave.
“The course has looked magnificent in recent months and now the weather has changed the fairways and rough have really struggled to maintain moisture levels.
“This, coupled with the lack of a mains irrigation system at the club, has meant that they have suffered in terms of grass density and colour but they are still playable.
“The weather has a massive impact on the course and we have to adapt daily -we live by weather reports.”
The team’s day starts at 6am with an analysis of data from the club’s weather station.
The information informs them which areas of the course have lost moisture and enables them to establish where to focus their efforts.
“With the heatwave we have adjusted our tactics significantly,” said Doug.
“We also have a high-tech moisture meter which we use by hand to take readings on different spots of the greens.
“Wind is a big factor and different parts of the green will need more water than others.
“The readings enable us to focus on areas which require attention and apply the necessary levels of water accordingly.
“The soil is very warm and dry, and we continually aerate it. We have reduced the amount of grass cutting we do.
“I love looking after the course and it’s great when people comment on the quality.”
Met Office forecasters said today’s temperatures would be cooler than yesterday.
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