Greenkeepers’ caution on golf’s return: Golfers were warned to expect “inevitable disappointment” when they were able to return to play whenever government lockdown restrictions are eased.
Only essential maintenance has been permitted, often by stripped down greenkeeping crews, since the decision was taken to shut the doors on clubs on March 23.
Images spread across social media over the past few weeks have shown courses looking striped and fantastic during the spring sunshine.
But the reality, when getting up close, will be areas – such as rough – that have not been as closely monitored as teams have stuck to guidance issued by governing bodies and worked with limited numbers.
Speaking during a Talking Shop webinar held by the British & International Golf Greenkeepers’ Association (BIGGA), a panel of course managers urged caution.
“It’s expectation. They (golfers) are going to come back and they’re going to think that everything is fantastic,” said Scott Reeves, Leyland course manager and BIGGA chairman, when asked what the biggest challenge was going to be on the resumption of golf.
“(The perception will be that) The course has been empty, so the greenkeepers must have all been beavering away making everything absolutely perfect in their absence.
“We’re going to have to manage that. We’ll have to manage the expectation prior to opening, or partial opening, communicate effectively and, once they are on site, explain and build relationships back up again with golfers.
“There’s going to be inevitable disappointment.”
Andy Ewence, course manager at Woking, explained he had stopped using twitter when the lockdown began to temper expectations.
“We can keep the surfaces looking OK, fairways, greens, tees, but it is the strimming, the rough, the weed spraying,” he said.
Ewence continued: “The problem is there’s what you’re doing and the golf course down the road could be doing something totally different and the members speak.
“It’s going to be hard one. One golf course might look absolutely outstanding that have had most of their staff there, and the other one doesn’t. Going from public, private, exclusive, they are all going to be different.”
Craig Haldane, golf courses manager at Gleneagles, said communication – and doing it at the right time – would be absolutely crucial in getting everyone on side.
He added the possibility of full crews not being able to return for some time even after reopening, because of various restrictions that would still be in place, meant greenkeepers would also have to moderate their own expectations.
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