Wednesday, October 27, 2010

To Be or not to Be

In this case "B" stands for buggies and whether or not they are on the courses following a rain event.  There have been several occasions over the past month when motorised buggy access to the courses has been restricted, and in particular this week when a rainfall total of as little as 36mm followed by a fall of 22mm, was enough to keep buggies off both courses on consecutive days.  A Member wrote in feeling that the banning of buggies on the River last Monday seemed an overreaction, and that other options like the 90 degree rule of keeping the buggies off some or all faiways and players walking to the ball could be tried, as well as insisting buggies stay strictly on the paths where available.  Not to mention the impact on Club revenue and Members being denied a game.  The following is the reply that I penned and felt that it was information that would be informative for other Members and followers of my Blog.

"Thanks for your comments,

Cancelling motorised buggies is probably the most difficult decision I make and it is entirely my call.  I fully realise the impact on Club revenue and Members enjoyment, but in my mind the current and future playing conditions on the course comes first.  There are a number of indicators I use when making the decision and they include but are not limited to;
  • Obviously the size of the rain event
  • The amount of casual water evident
  • The number of areas that are wet and sloppy but not showing water
  • Damaged areas from recent rains
  • General turf health and potential growing conditions
  • The latest forecast (now not issued until 5.45 am at the earliest)
  • The amount of play booked has some bearing. 
On last Monday I was awake through most of the evening storm and checked the Airport rainfall figures at 2 am and there had been 20mm.  I thought the course should handle that and was anxious myself as I had a huge day of work planned with several contractors due on site.  I arrived at work at 5 am and one of my first impressions on arriving was surprise at the amount of water standing adjacent to the shed.  A quick check of the gauge showed about 40 mm and I then toured the course in my usual sequence when considering the fate of motorised buggies.  The amount of water still standing on West holes 5, 16, 13, 12 and 2 made the West decision easy.  The amount of water standing on River holes 15, 4, 6, 9 and 1 led me to believe that the River course would be too wet for motorised buggies.  What I could see of the sky at that stage was still quite threatening and the forecast the night before had predicted showers, which only reinforced my decision at that time.  The decision was then relayed to the Pro Shop and relevant Club officials and posted on the Club website by 5.30 am before it was 100% daylight and before the days forecast was issued.  With the benefit of hindsight, it was dry until the deluge at around 4.00 pm but I stand by my decision in the circumstances.  It was also probably dry enough to get motorised buggies back on late in the morning but we have tried that twice before with confusion and angst the result as the morning players claimed they were disadvantaged.  It was also difficult to publicise and had a negligible result on player numbers on those two occasions.

The 90° rule you mention only works on courses with full length buggy paths and vigilant marshals.  Some of our wettest areas are down the sides of fairways and such a rule causes problems and confusion without full length paths.  Most people do use the paths we have as they are generally adjacent to greens and tees.  I have tried extensive signage before with virtually no result.

I can assure you that the decision to stop motorised buggies from being used on the courses is not taken lightly and is one that I spend a lot of sleepless hours considering."

I trust that the above gives buggy drivers a reasonable explanation of what is behind the decision and that it is most certainly not a decision that is rushed or taken for granted.  As a matter of interest with 4 rainfall days left, October 2010 will be the third wettest October on record for the Tweed Heads site, behind 1969 with 507mm and 1972 with 640mm.  So far this month we have only had 476mm!!  The fourth wettest October on record was 1984 with a paltry 346mm. 

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