Greenkeepers poised for courses to reopen at short notice

Greenkeepers in Scotland have responded positively to being advised to have their courses ready for re-opening at very short notice, “perhaps even overnight”.
Stewart Duff, Gullane course manager, on the 18th green. Picture: Phil WilkinsonStewart Duff, Gullane course manager, on the 18th green. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Stewart Duff, Gullane course manager, on the 18th green. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

The possible scenario has been outlined to golf courses and course managers by the British and International Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA).

“I can’t talk on behalf of any other club, but we will be good to go,” said Stewart Duff, the course manager at Gullane. “It would be good to get a week’s notice, but it will be what it will be.

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“The bunkers will require some shovelling and raking, and we will understandably not be as polished as normal, even a bit rough around the edges but still good to go.”

The other scenario being predicted by BIGGA is that golf facilities may be given “1-2 weeks’ notice” to start preparing for reopening after being closed due to the coronavirus crisis in March.

“We are not far away from being able to open,” said Keith Burgon, the head greenkeeper at Eyemouth on the Berwickshire coast. “We usually have two full time staff and one seasonal but, at the minute, we have one full timer in myself and a seasonal working two days a week.

“If members are understanding that green speeds will be slower and there will be a few areas not managed to the usual standards, I don’t see why Eyemouth couldn’t open with only a day’s notice. I must say that the members at Eyemouth really are good they don’t moan about the speed of the greens or if a few fairways are a bit long. They just like to get out and play.”

Club administrators could face more of a headache if the go ahead is given at short notice. “The difficulty is booking and controlling the tee times in such a quick turnaround as we don’t know all of the regulations as yet for when we do open,” said Gullane secretary Gordon Simpson. “The last thing any club wants is to open too quickly and there be some issues to attract attention from the authorities.

“We are all working on hearsay and gossip at present to try to devise a re-opening plan. It would be great if we had clear guidelines to work towards, but I think the bottom line is that all clubs would do everything practically possible to get open as quick as they can to try and get our members back playing.”

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