As the world waits to see who will emerge victorious at the Masters in Augusta, STRI agronomist, Emma Beggs, considers the impact the elite tournament has on golf greenkeepers worldwide.
Golf fans across the globe will be tuning to watch all the action from 2018 Masters over the next four days. TV coverage is showing the course and the greens looking immaculate, as you’d expect, and the stage is set for another high point of the golfing calendar. The junior skills Drive, Chip & Putt Championship Finals, open to boys and girls aged 7-15, and created by the Masters Tournament Foundation, has already whetted my appetite.
The contrast of this event alongside the current condition of UK golf courses has probably never been so marked.
Greenkeepers, greens committees and agronomists will watch the Masters with a mixture of awe and dread. It is wonderful to enjoy a golfing spectacular, a golf course presented in optimum condition, however, it can generate an unrealistic dream for UK golfers. Leaving aside monumental differences in budgets, staffing numbers, maintenance compounds and machinery fleets, the weather alone means that we cannot begin to provide this quality of course at this time of year.
This year’s extremely wet weather patterns have been compounded by the Beast from the East, low soil temperatures, cold winds and frosts which have all delayed the onset of growth. Without growth it is difficult to provide good quality surfaces for play.
Links courses fair a little better, but for inland courses the amount of rain in recent weeks has resulted in completely saturated soils. Until we get some warmth in the ground and some drier soil conditions, it is increasingly difficult to keep inland golf courses open and main greens in play.
So as you watch and enjoy the golf from Augusta this week spare a thought for the greenkeepers working on your local golf courses and waiting for better weather.