16th March

Hi All,

Bit of a strange world we are all living in at the moment and one where just sitting down to type this blog seems pretty meaningless. 100% appreciate that we all have bigger issues on our plate right now than what’s the weather going to be like and what should I be thinking about on the golf course. With two elderly parents, both of whom are ill and one totally reliant on carers, these are worrying times for me as well. That said we just have to be logical, level headed and work it through. I have self-isolated from social media 🙂

I know for everyone managing a facility in our industry you have more important decisions to make in terms of club policy, staff well-being and health and how to organise yourself if you lose staff through illness. That said, life must go on after a fashion..

BIGGA have released an advisory document for golf clubs with some useful tips, you can read it here

The restriction on elderly people will obviously hit our industry hard because of the age demographic but by the same token you’d think that an outdoor pursuit like golf would be precisely the type of activity the government should be encouraging provided the appropriate measures are taken of course with hygiene. It’ll be interesting to see where the powers that be draw the line on what is ‘reasonable behaviour’. Personally I can’t see myself giving up running, cycling or fishing as these are not group activities, they keep me healthy and above all sane ! Besides if the current irrational behaviour continues in some parts of the country in terms of stocking up with supplies, I may well end up having to catch my dinner 🙂

So with the mindset that some form of normality must go on until we are put in a total shutdown situation, this blog will just be a short synopsis on the weather, where we are and what’s coming afterwards maybe.

General Weather Situation

It’s ironic that for the last 5 months and counting, the weather has been front and centre in our minds in terms of the disruption to our industry and then just as it starts to get better we have CV-19. Bugger, bugger, bugger….

So as promised, high pressure is with us and after a frosty start for some on Monday, it is set to be a really nice day with long spells of unbroken sunshine and temperatures rising nicely into the low double figures. In other words, a lovely spring day. Of course it won’t be like that everywhere, I mean, this is the U.K after all….So during the early afternoon cloud will build across north west Ireland and Scotland as a prelude to rain pushing in later in the afternoon. This rain will push into the west of Ireland by dusk and south west Scotland but it will begin to fizzle out as it crosses The Midlands of Ireland. So away from this rain front we look to have a simply cracking day that can only lift the spirits. So expect 7-8°C where you have the cloud cover and rain and 10-11°C in the sunshine. Winds should be light to moderate north-westerly / westerly.

Onto Tuesday and the remnants of that rain will have crossed The Irish Sea into Wales and northern England, so a wet start here. Elsewhere we look to have another dry start across Ireland, England and most of Scotland but with more cloud cover. As we progress through the morning that rain will begin to fizzle out across Wales but we will see a new front push into the west of Ireland and Scotland by midday. This band of rain will begin to move south across Ireland and The Borders into northern England by Tuesday evening with some of it heavy across The North West. So for most another dry day and with a fresh to moderate westerly wind, a good drying day to boot with temperatures up in the low to mid-teens even across the south of England. I’ll be running in my shorts then.

Dawn Wednesday sees that band of rain stretching from the south of Ireland, across Wales and into the north and east of England. As we progress through Wednesday morning that band of rain will clear Ireland and sink south however it is likely to stay across Wales, The Midlands and Lincolnshire / Humberside for the majority of the day I am afraid. As we go through the afternoon, the band of rain sinks slowly south into The Home Counties but lightens in intensity as it does so. At about the same time we will see a new band of rain and wintry showers push into the north west of Scotland. Temperatures will drop significantly at dusk as the wind swings round from westerly to northerly. So a cooler day with 8-10°C likely.

Onto Thursday and with the wind transitioning round to the north / north-east it will pull more cloud into the equation, so a much duller and cooler day on Thursday. At dawn we will see that overnight rain across southern England and with the cooler air stream it may be a case of wintry showers over elevation. By the morning not so rush hour maybe, these showers will begin to fade away to The South West to leave behind a dull and cool picture for the rest of the day. Dry though. They’ll be some rain / wintry showers across the far north / north east of Scotland and the risk of some mizzly, drizzle coming in off The North Sea, otherwise a dry second half of the day. Remaining on the cool side with similar temperatures to Wednesday, 8-10°C.

Closing out the week we have a band of rain lurking over northern France and crossing The Channel so the far south of England / South Coast may see some of this first up on Friday. Otherwise a cool but dry day for the rest of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. That rain front will continue to skirt with the south coast of England through most of Friday so it’ll be a constant feature of the day here. With a strong to moderate north east wind in situ, it wouldn’t surprise me to see some showers push in off The North Sea into The Midlands and eastern counties. Remaining cool then with similar temperatures to Thursday.

So with high pressure in charge we look to have a mainly dry outlook for the coming weekend albeit a coolish one because of the easterly airflow. Saturday will see those showers across the south coast of England cross The Irish Sea and push into the eastern counties of Ireland throughout the day making progress inland through the afternoon. Elsewhere, cool and dull across eastern coasts with the occasional sunny interval inland. Through to Sunday we will still see a showery outlook across Ireland but with the wind changing to a more southerly one here, I expect the showers to be more northern biased. The change to a south east wind will push some showers up the north west coast across The Isle of Man and into the west of Scotland. Elsewhere for Wales and England, a re-run of Saturday but perhaps with more in the way of sunny intervals on Sunday, a degree or two milder due to the change to a south easterly wind.

Weather Outlook

Looking ahead to next week we  will start the week with high pressure and a dry scenario across the U.K and Ireland. This pattern holds till later on Tuesday when a colder low pressure tries to push more unsettled weather in from the north. This will give a windier and more unsettled outlook to Scotland through Wednesday whilst further south stays cool, dry and potentially frosty. As we move into Thursday that low pressure pulls those showers down from the north across England, Ireland and Wales on a northern wind and these could be wintry in nature, especially along the north east coast of Scotland and England. As we close out next week, a new high pressure pushes in, we still keep that cool northern air stream but crucially we remain dry with only a low risk of showers further north.

Agronomic Notes

Just a short synopsis here because I fully appreciate there are more important decisions to be made currently on managing the golf course, staff and the facility in general.

Propiconazole use up

Currently, we are seeing a small amount of Microdochium nivale doing the rounds after the milder air and rain over the weekend but I expect this activity to reduce as we go into a drier, cooler, easterly air stream later on in the week. Saying that the last day for using up your Propiconazole-based products is this coming Thursday, the 19th March 2020, in terms of disposal, storage and use of existing stocks.

Insect grub damage a continuing issue..

There remains a lot of issues with both Bibionids and Leatherjacket grubs currently on outfield, tees, approaches and some golf greens. I think this remains one of the biggest challenges to our industry going forward as it is causing real issues with no solution available to apply effectively in terms of early Spring usage.

Management going forward…

Firstly, I don’t see growth jumping out of the ground any time soon because the drier and cooler, easterly-influenced outlook will just keep things ticking along, so no growth flush on outfields and the like envisaged as we speak.

Let’s face it the last thing we need now is the grass jumping out of the ground when a lot of areas are still extremely wet and unable to be cut. This particularly applies to fairways, semi-rough and cut rough. In addition if we are to run with less manpower going forward, it is these sort of areas (and bunkers) that soak up a lot of resource and time. There is always the option if the areas dry out and you have the budget to apply a PGR and iron combination to knock back growth, maintain presentation and remove a large part of the maintenance headache from the equation.

Whilst this may be advantageous from a management perspective, it isn’t if you need recovery or germination of seed from insect / disease / water-logging. I perceive that March will be a slow drag growth-wise with the weather patterns sitting as they are. The crucial thing though is we are starting to dry out, I appreciate we don’t have a fully dry picture going forward but weekly E.T totals are starting to exceed weekly rainfall totals and we are getting more dry down days between the rainfall, so things are tipping in our favour.

Ok that’s me for now, I wish you all the best for the coming week whatever it brings…

Mark Hunt