Grounds care still on course
4 November 2020
They say that golf’s a challenging game at the best of times, but it’s even more so at the moment.
Players were initially delighted when they were able to pick up their clubs again following the easing of the first lockdown restrictions in June throughout England (those in Scotland and Wales were allowed to tee off once more in July).
However, the reintroduction of what some have called lockdown 2.0, covering non-essential shops and services from tomorrow (5 November), means that golf and other sports facilities in England must close again.
Ironically, interest in golf has been rising sharply. According to a survey back in June, the number of rounds played increased by 70% year-on-year that month and grounds care professionals have been kept busy maintaining the turf.
And despite the lockdown, many will be able to keep on working to keep courses in condition.
“We’ve spoken to our golf greenkeeping customers who have booked equipment to hire over the next few weeks and they still want it. They plan to stay busy,” says Andy Lathwell, who is ground care hire manager for George Browns, the machinery dealership whose hire activity serves a large region from depots in Leighton Buzzard and Dunmow.
“In fact, many are bringing forward their turf renovation plans. They say that, because the government has said the restrictions will last for a month until 2 December, they are going to crack on while the courses are quiet.
“Like farmers and construction professionals, they largely work on their own or in small teams and can socially distance easily,” Andy tells me.
“The grass has kept growing and the weather has been benign, so they want to make the best of the conditions. Sports clubs have also been undertaking annual work to prepare for the new season, and highways departments are busy maintaining roadside verges and embankments.
“Normally, autumn would be a quieter period for us, but many contractors have asked us to extend the hire periods well into November because they have so much work to do,” Andy adds.
George Browns is the UK’s largest Kubota agricultural and grounds care dealership, and the manufacturer’s mowers (pictured) and mini excavators are amongst the most popular items in the extensive Browns hire fleet.
• In Wales, golf courses are also closed under the country’s 17-day lockdown introduced on 23 October. Currently in Scotland, which introduced a five-tier system of regulations on 2 November, on-course golf activities can continue, with up to four players from four different households allowed to participate together, if they observe social distancing measures, according to the Scottish Golf organisation.