Dry weather causes problems
By David Markham
The exceptionally dry spell has posed problems for all Groundsmen and Green keepers, but it is especially difficult for Green keepers on moorland golf courses like Baildon Golf Club.
Philip Sutton, head green keeper of the West Yorkshire course, some four miles from Bradford, said: "We have no automatic irrigation system so it is a question of going round with a water bowser - a big water tanker we use for watering the greens.
I have never known a dry spell go on for so long. You would expect that the weather would have broken by now."
Despite the recent dry weather, Baildon has not been without some drainage problems. "We have done some drainage work in certain areas," said Philip. "With the course being common land we cannot do any major drainage schemes so it is just a question of drying up wet spaces when they appear.
At the moment we are working on the 11th and 12th fairways at the bottom end of the course where the water runs to. We have discovered some old stone drains that have collapsed so we are taking them out and replacing them with plastic pipes and then backfilling with gravel.
The main golfing season seems to have gone on much longer this year so we have only just completed the hollow coring of the greens. We use mini tines in autumn and half inch hollow tines in spring. We have been following that pattern in recent years and it seems to work out well in that we seem to have better growth in the spring.
As the course is high on the moors we normally have a short growing season because the weather doesn't warm up in the spring time as much as it does lower down in the neighbouring Aire Valley."
The dry weather has brought out the walkers in their thousands to roam over the moor - and the golf course. The club can only hope that the walkers and the growing number of horse riders respect the greens, but inevitably there is wear and tear on the course from the trampling of feet.
"The moor has been absolutely packed with walkers and picnic parties and we seem to get more horse riders every year," said Philip.
The golf club suffered two years ago when the course was closed during the foot and mouth crisis with members leaving to join other clubs. Happily the sheep have returned to the moors and members are coming back.
It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good, however, and Philip said: "The course came back better after its five month's rest. When we re-opened there wasn't a blemish on the tees and it was the same with the greens - there wasn't wear and tear as there usually is with continuous golf.
We lost some members because of foot and mouth, but they are beginning to come back now and membership is steadily recovering."