Courses open, but greens not up to speed

Greens trials

Golf courses in England opened today, but golfers will find many greens are not up to speed.

Course managers, many of whom have faced the double challenge of reduced greenkeeping teams and operating under ‘essential maintenance’ restrictions have voiced concerns about member and player expectations on their return to golf.

One superintendent from Hampshire in southern England told Syngenta Growing Golf: “My greens look immaculate, but they're slower than normal, and I'm struggling to get them back up without the usual number of staff.”

In an interview with BBC Sport, Sue McDevitt, general manager of Perranporth Golf Club in Cornwall, south west England, said: “The course is open and it looks absolutely beautiful, but it is perhaps not going to play as it normally would at this time of year because it hasn’t had all those man hours manicuring it.”

The anecdotal evidence concurs with the findings of a specialist research project supported by Syngenta, Managing turf under lockdown, looking at the impact of restricted maintenance on greens.

The project, in association with STRI and ICL, has found that while low intensity management makes putting surfaces look green and healthy, they tend to be slow.

The indications are that speed and playing quality are likely to return, which is good news for players, but it takes time and resource, and comes at the expense of turf health.

All of those factors will be in course and club managers’ minds as they face a new normal – and the possibility of having to cut budgets and resources.

survey by GGA Partners found that 91% of clubs in the UK and Ireland had applied to use temporary wage subsidy schemes during lockdown.

Looking at the economic impact on course businesses, 29% of clubs said their cash position was ‘concerning’ and a further 8% said it was ‘critical’.

Golfers may be happy to be returning today, but many clubs will be facing important long term sustainability challenges both on and off the course.

• Weekly reports and videos from the Managing turf under lockdown initiative are available on a dedicated webpage of the GreenCast website: and with further practical advice and commentary on the GreenCast Advisory blog and Twitter @syngentaturfuk