Golf: SGU's talk of the turf set to help Scotland's courses

THE Scottish Golf Union has teamed up with one of Britain's leading turf specialists to offer advice to golf clubs as their courses recover from the recent bad weather.

In conjunction with the SGU, the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) has issued guidance outlining the potential impact of the cold weather and advice on how greenkeepers and club committees can cope with the problems caused by the snow and ice that has covered golf courses over the past few weeks.

"With many golfers eager to get back on to the golf course following a longer than average winter lay-off, the guidance notice also offers advice on getting your golf course back on track in preparation for the 2010 playing season," said Kevin Weir, the SGU's Golf Services Manager.

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The guidance notice has been circulated to club secretaries and, at many courses, it looks as though it is going to result on winter greens being in operation with clubs being advised to resist the temptation to rush back on to putting surfaces.

"It is the prolonged period of frost and ice cover that is an unknown quantity for many turf managers in the UK," the STRI notes in the guidance. "As this is fairly unchartered territory in the UK, we are unsure of the potential damage that may be caused.

"Once the ice has been removed, it will be important to provide some rest to the greens to allow the turf to overcome the period of stress and recover from any damage that may have occurred.

"Do not be tempted to open surfaces for play too quickly."

Tommy Shepherd says the recent weather is the worst he has experienced in his 20 years as the head greenkeeper at Monktonhall.

"We've been closed for almost five weeks, although, with the temperature up and a thaw on, I'm hoping to get nine or ten holes open today," he said.

"The snow is almost away and it is mainly ice damage that's left. From the agronomy side of things, it is better to let nature takes its course because you can start doing damage if you chip away at the ice.

"Another problem is that the sun can magnify through the ice and burn the grass a bit – I've experienced that before."