Golf Course Upkeep During Winter

Club Insure Ltd provide comprehensive insurance for all Golf Clubs. With many clubs already on cover and more coming on board daily, not only is our golf account team qualified to offer expert insurance advice but through years of experience, can also offer maintenance and welfare advice.

With the winter months fast approaching and golf as popular as ever, clubs/green keepers face daily upkeep and safety challenges.

Green keepers from several revered clubs we insure offer the following advice:

Concern: Slippery footpaths and sleeper steps.

Solution: Golf Clubs should instigate risk management procedures to check and repair such paths and steps. Prolonged usage and increased rainfall can lead to slippery, uneven surfaces resulting in broken legs, ankles or worse. Non-slip strips are a good line of defence against this potential hazard in conjunction with a proactive winter maintenance programme.

Concern: Waterlogged fairways and greens

Solution: Waterlogging problems can result from a variety of causes. Widespread waterlogging is generally associated with the presence of impermeable clay soil but other causes can include blockages of existing drainage pipes caused by tree roots.

Accurate identification of the causes of drainage problems is essential: solutions will often involve the installation of new underground drainage pipework. In some instances adequate piped fairway drainage may already exist and the waterlogging problems may be due to compaction within the topsoil layer, preventing water from reaching the drainage system. In such instances a variety of options could be considered, including decompaction treatments (‘verti-draining’, ‘earthquaking’, air injection) or the installation of a secondary drainage system (gravel/sand-slits, gravel-banding, or sand-banding).

Concern: Irrigation systems

Solution: High and low areas of the same green need to be irrigated at different rates, can your system do this? A thorough check by a specialist irrigation company is invaluable as they will give the system a full health check and provide you with details of what is needed to keep the system working at its best.

Many of the old PVC systems lasted 15-20 years before they were due for retirement, the newer systems should last much longer and are good value for money. If a replacement is due consider the following; are there other areas to include in the system, walk off routes for example? Are there other sources of water to bring on line? Is a borehole a possibility and is fairway irrigation worth considering? Whilst evaluating your equipment, update your risk and condition assessment.

Concern: Overhanging/overgrown trees

Solution: If not qualified to do so yourself, hire a professional tree surgeon to tackle your overgrown trees and foliage. It is important for insurance purposes that all subcontractors have their own insurance.

Concern: Greens

Solution: Greens need to be managed in the summer to minimise damage during slow growing periods and managed in the winter to give the greens the best possible chance of emerging from winter with full grass cover.

A critical aspect of ensuring a successful winter is the retention of grass cover, regardless of variety. Weak greens that enter the winter season will undoubtedly lose grass cover quicker than those that have a dense, strong sward. So good maintenance practices should be employed during the lead up to the autumn season.
Simple decisions can be made such as increasing the height of cut, rolling more often in place of cutting and shallow tining to aid gas diffusion. More complex routines in the form of nutrient balancing, use of PGRs and pesticide applications also play a vital role in making sure a high percentage of grass cover is maintained when growth is good.

During those months when growth is slow, the greens still require cutting. As the grass is less able to combat wear, it is therefore beneficial to look at ways of reducing stress while maintaining mowing style practices.

The simplest way to do this is to increase the height of cut and to move over from triplex mowing to pedestrian mowing. Any remedial maintenance, even rolling with a triplex, can result in lateral movement of the softer turf through the torque action of the tyres and so induce plant stress and nullify the benefits of the practice employed. Mowing with a floating head pedestrian mower is overall much more discretionary as the operator can select areas of turf that are weaker and ‘lift back’ on the unit. The ‘clean-up cut’ is also far less stressful on the plant. The cost of using a pedestrian mower may be slightly more expensive, but it can be a major cost saving initiative against the cost of chemicals.

In the winter vibratory rolling compared to hefty rollers limits the stress on the slow growing grass plant. Shallow tining, without the use of a triplex, is also helpful with gas diffusion and limits anaerobic conditions

Our Golf Scheme is offered through a meticulously selected panel of ‘golf’ specific insurers who offer a flexible approach to underwriting, affording us the opportunity to provide bespoke, tailor-made insurance to meet all of your requirements. Our golf product covers the club house, greens, green keeper’s sheds and their equipment

For golf specific information, to arrange a confidential face to face review or to speak to one of our experts – simply complete the contact form or call 0344 488 9204.