Who remembers the days five years ago when the Beacon Park Golf Course club house, above, was for golfers, before it became a snack bar? Now it caters for very few senior members but they are still the backbone of the club.
In response to some questions about the state of the course caused by the closure, WLBC Head of Wellbeing and Leisure responds that “It has a team responsible for the inspection of the course; that a recent review has not been completed as the course closed on 20 March and staff were sent home on furlough on 23 March; maintenance of the site recommenced on 20 April and Serco have confirmed that they are currently complying with the England Golf essential maintenance guidelines; they are unable to name the members who complimented on the condition of the course; the greens mower is used as needed and dictated by the Head Greenkeeper; Pathways were created at the temporary entrance to the 1st tee; and Serco have indicated they are hopeful that works will re-commence as soon as possible, however at present due to the current circumstances they are unable to confirm a commencement or completion date.
We point out that almost five weeks of inactivity on golf course maintenance will be a disaster. It will have deep repercussions, posing potential risks to a course’s long-term health and the conditions many golfers take for granted, as they did over five years ago, shown below.
When grass is left un-mown, it doesn’t just grow longer. It gets harder to whip back into playing shape. You’d think it might be simple. Just whack the grass down to whatever height you want it? But it doesn’t work like that. Good maintenance is governed by what’s known as the “one-third rule,” which boils down to this: never lop off more than one-third of the leaf blade with a single mow. Mow any lower and you risk ‘scalping’ the grass, which can cause both short and long-term damage. Scalping shows itself in brown and thinned out patches, which are bad enough to start but get even worse if left untended, as they allow for algae, moss and other unwanted invaders to creep in. And that’s what has happened at BPGC.
Greens typically need to be mown at least once every three days. Without that regular tending, they become overgrown. Getting them back up to speed is tough. Sometimes it’s impossible, and the entire putting surface has to be reseeded, and you’re looking at least two months before they’re ready for play again.
Though fairways can be left to grow longer than greens, they still need mowing at least once a week. Without the staff doing that mowing will raise the fairway mowing height, which, of course, results in shaggier landing areas and less pristine lies. Like the rubbish below.
All life depends on water. Grass is no exception. It needs irrigation. Exactly how much depends on a range of factors, including climate, rainfall, soil and turf type. But no golf course can survive without enough to drink. As with mowing, rough areas and fairways are more drought-tolerant than greens, which, in dry, hot weather, need to be watered at least every day or two.
On a course that’s getting little to no play, bunkers are less vulnerable to maintenance issues than greens and fairways. But if they’re left untended, weeds can overtake them. Those weeds can be removed, of course, but that might require removing several inches of sand as well, a relatively quick fix, but a costly one. Washouts are another threat. If washouts occur repeatedly, the sand can get contaminated and need to be replaced entirely.
What we can safely assume is, Serco continues its programme of ruination of the Beacon Park Golf Course, and unless somebody has the balls to step in and end the £1 annual lease it will die, another sports facility failure in Skelmersdale. How many more?