Fraser From The Fairway: What do golf clubs do to make sure they can stay open through the winter?

The Northern Echo: BE PREPARED: Bishop Auckland Golf Club will look to preserve as many golfing days as possible in the winter BE PREPARED: Bishop Auckland Golf Club will look to preserve as many golfing days as possible in the winter

AT this time of year, golf clubs from across the country have to make plans for colder weather.

No matter if it is the freezing temperatures or the snowfall, the greens and fairways have to be protected to ensure play is not spoiled during warmer periods on the golfing calendar.

It is about managing the situation and making preparations and plans to cope in the best way a club can, while accepting that golf will not be played for 365 days of the year.

With the weather experts predicting that this week will make the start of an extensive cold snap across the British Isles, the hopes across County Durham and North Yorkshire will be that their worst fears are not realised.

“On a daily basis, the head greenkeeper and the club professional will discuss the course conditions and the price it will cost for non-members to have a round,” said Bishop Auckland Golf Club secretary, David Perriss.

“The cost for a round is dependent on what sort of course we can offer because of the weather. There are offers and different prices and anyone looking to play our course should contact the club to find out how it is set up for that day and the price of playing.”

Bishop Auckland is not reliant on walk-up golfers. With an 800-strong membership, the clubhouse will remain open for business regardless of the weather conditions.

Numbers were recently boosted when 40 new faces took up the offer to switch to Bishop Auckland when nearby Woodham Golf Club went into liquidation.

Perriss said: “Even when the course has to be closed, the members can still come down and support the club. We have a snooker table here and a bar, so there is still a strong social side to our golf club.”

That is the tale across the majority of golf clubs, with the social side of golf just as important as the putting on the greens when it comes to keeping a club in business.

But there can be no disguising the level of impact and frustration when the cold weather – or heavy rainfall – prevents getting out on to the course.

“Of course it impacts on the club,” said Perriss. “We lost a number of days last year during the horrible summer we had and when it comes to the winter you just hope there is a good period when golfers can get out to play.

“There have been plenty times when we have had golfers come up during the winter expecting to be able to play and they haven't been able to, even though the snow appears to have melted when they are at home.

“The might look out of their homes and have a drive up and see no snow or frost. But because we are a north facing course, the improvement in the weather has not always had the same effect on the greens.”

Every course in the North-East will look to preserve as many golfing days as possible during the winter chill – even if it means the standard tinkering and readjustments.

Perriss said: “We have 18 holes and we also prepare 18 temporary greens. We are not playing on the normal putting areas at the moment, just to protect them a bit.

“We also have our winter tees on the Astro-Turf and from Monday just gone we have been asking that they tee up on a little mat just to prevent divots. When its cold, the divots will not repair as well as they should.”

If the winter chill does arrive in the next 48 hours, the amount of actual playing time could be restricted. Golf clubs need to be prepared and Bishop Auckland already are.

For further information on playing Bishop Auckland through the winter contact enquiries@bagc.co.uk or call 01388 661618

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