Kicking off a series looking at the effect the rain is having on clubs across the country, we travel to Brough, in East Yorkshire, where the downpours are just the latest in what has been a long list of frustrations
Nature has thrown everything at Brough over the last couple of years. The Beast from the East, a major drought, and a chafer grub infestation that stripped fairways to the soil, club chiefs could be forgiven for despairing when the heavens opened and dumped a “tremendous amount” of rain all over the East Yorkshire course.
General manager Richard Jagger said, last Thursday and Friday alone, something in the region of 50mm fell.
Members of a greens forum, sat watching the liquid come down sideways as they were meeting, could confidently decide the course would be shut a day in advance – so sure were they how conditions would deteriorate.
— Brough Golf Club (@BroughGolfClub) November 8, 2019
It prefaced five days of consecutive closure and, when the course reopened on Wednesday, the 3rd through 12th holes were still out of action.
The respite was brief. As the rain came down again and closed the course on Friday, and with a wet winter forecast, Jagger admitted the conditions will present a challenge.
“We’re a reasonably well draining course, we’ve got a stream that runs through the middle and that burst its banks and overflowed,” he explained.
“We’ve got really wet areas. The really frustrating thing for us is that we’ve gone into the autumn with no chafer grub damage and the course in probably the best condition it has been in.
“I’m saying we can really kick on this autumn, we can get visiting parties in, push for membership, and it’s just a kick in the teeth when you see the course has been shut.
“We work in an outdoor sport so you’ve got to roll with it a little bit but it’s definitely challenging.
“We had a greens forum last week and it was coming down sideways – Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
“We made the decision to shut the course almost 24 hours in advance because there was no way it could be opened.”
— Brough Greenkeepers (@BGCgreenkeeping) November 15, 2019
The weather impacts many parts of the business, from visitor green fee income to society bookings and food and beverage sales.
But Jagger added Brough are looking at ways to manage the water and keep people playing.
“You lose the majority of income from food and beverage sales. I’ve gone into the autumn really optimistic that we’d be able to drive our visitor revenue – that’s decimated. We’ve been growing it and were confident we could improve again this year.
“We’ve got to manage it, adapt, and we’ve spent a lot of time with our course manager and greens chairman walking the course looking at ideas for managing traffic and where people go.
“We’re currently debating winter mats on the fairway and [the weather] certainly challenges the norm.”
How has your club been affected by the rain? Let me know in the comments below or you can tweet me.