Bryan Baldwin to CHAIR OF GREENS
Your Suggestion / Comment
The current situation of course closure is something that we have to accept as the likely norm for the foreseeable future, hotter summers and wetter longer autumn winters coupled with the sub structure of our course being on clay and running sand give us the problem of the course drying out for periods of summer and bogging in winter.
This year there has been much discussion about a plan to spend a huge sum of money on irrigation , however, we lose more of our golf season due to winter conditions and their effect on the course than we potentially do in the summer. Would it be appropriate now to take a step back and look at what is the real priority for the long term benefit of our course , either substantial investment in irrigation or , substantial investment in drainage . There are still real issue with water being unable to pass under the Wirral Way and out the the Dee estuary and when you walk along the sea wall , where some of the outlets give a healthy flow, others almost nothing at all. I feel we lose more golf in winter, than we could potentially lose in the summer and maybe we should reconsider where to spend and defend the course from either the few weeks of dry weather or a the prolonged damp Autumn and winter months. Ideally if it where possible , ( which I have no idea if it is) could we not consider a strategy to factor in both? with a potential ability to enhance and increase our water capture through the creation of open drains and pond enlargement over winter months and using that captured water in the summer ?
This one is quite easy and obvious for me and it’s all down to finances.
We could drain all par 4 and 5s in one or two years with contractors and have an incredible drainage system, granted! I would like to add that would be great from my point of view too!
However, it still wouldn’t guarantee a playable course. When the water table is high, the water table is high and therefore further rainfall will just sit until drainage allows it to do otherwise. It will undoubtedly make the golf course drain faster and help grass quality etc but if we get back-to-back wet spells, we would be in the same boat.
It’s all about calculations of water falling in rainfall and run off vs hydro conductivity rate of the soil and how efficient the pipe and outlets are around site. Clay will move only 0.01″ per hour through clay and at times we can get couple of inches of rain in a day or less, where the issue starts to worsen is when soil becomes waterlogged there’s no air so water moves even slower and especially when outlets are backed up. This then creates further backups and starts to silt pipes up as they can’t exit water as intended.
Clay expands when wet and shrinks when dry hence why we drain ok after showers in summer and really poor in winter.
We did spend a small fortune on 11 and 12th drainage in recent years and has that made a massive difference? The problem is, it’s such a massive task to rectify quickly and requires bigger outlets in well thought out areas with primary and secondary drainage to get around the poor percolation rates of the soil ie: gravel banding on fairways to move water to the drains. This is a massive and an expensive task.
Without irrigation it would be impossible to provide the greens and tees that we do full stop. Without going around in circles as to why we need irrigation, in my opinion, it’s the most important of the two for future proofing the club as rainfall is becoming much less in spring and summer and the climate is warming year upon year bringing with it higher evapotranspiration rates than ever before.
If the greens or tees start cracking etc and become hydrophobic (which could happen in a matter of days due to low moistures and high winds, cutting heights and plant stress etc) we would not be able to get them back until the Autumn full stop if it remained dry. Even if we had irrigation after we lost them. That’s how serious it is.
Granted again, rainfall can be higher also in winter and autumn. A happy medium or both projects must be considered and taken seriously. We need more cash asap to achieve anywhere close to what would make a massive difference in my opinion. Water collection would be a strong consideration but that’s a separate job completely and requires further capital that we don’t have.
I wish we could do both is my stance, in short from my point of view it’s irrigation that takes priority.
Hope this helps
Good Morning Martin / Scott
Firstly a huge thank you to Scott for taking the time to give such a detailed explanation as to the logic behind why irrigation continues to take priority over drainage.
As a lay member, I firmly hold a view that we have to place our trust in the expertise of those who we employ to look after our course and rely upon their knowledge and experience, which is why we pay them a wage. In that regard and now having read Scott detailed explanation, I now have a better understanding of the logic behind our strategy going forward.
I am in total agreement with Scott. If we had a magic money tree we would and should tackle both issues , and again, it is reassuring to see that spending our members money has clearly been given a lot of consideration and thought, something that I do not think has always been the case historically,
As to the recent drainage on the 12th and 13th, I agree , this has been something of a disappointment when it comes to its effectiveness. At times of high demand, some of the outlets into the main drain have a healthy running flow where others show little or no efficacy whatsoever, This does not correlate to the staggering costs of that work to the club, over £30.000 charged to the club by Duncan Ross and I am hopeful that bringing more of this work inhouse will not only reduce these costs but also improve the quality of the product
I also do not feel that we should look across the Wirral and compare our playability to some of the other clubs in our region, Wallasey and Royal are based on sandy sub soil that drains when it comes to our course playability but we should view Heswall in comparison with a like for like course , Caldy who also sit on clay and running sand and strive to be accessible for at least as much of the year as they are?
The issues of the major arterial egress routes preventing water from escaping into the estuary are clear to see and it shows a complete historic failure on our part to recognise the danger signs and react to them. All these issues were embedded long before the arrival of Scott and dealing with them is a monumental task When looking at the numerous outlets that run under the sea wall along the course boundary at the 5th, at times of high rainfall and wet weather some show a very healthy flow into the estuary, where others show little or nothing at all.
The same story applies when looking at the major routes that pass water from the upper course to the lower course, under the Wirral Way. Again some seem to have a healthy flow , where others look completely inoperative. this must have a huge negative effect on parts of the course and the retention of water both on the surface and below raising the soaking point?
The good news is we have a point of contact and excellent rapport with Wirral Borough council who have declared their willingness to allow us to do any work we deem necessary as in benefiting the course we also improve the quality of the Wirral Way for the numerous walkers and bike riders who use it.
I appreciate the scale and costs of the task but I also feel that we are a course who charges a healthy premium for its membership. The reality of the situation is that Heswall is now at best a 9 or 10 month of the year golf course whereas comparable courses seem to fair better, and for the fees paid by the membership that should cause us all concern.
Once again to Scott , thank you for taking time to give a detailed explanation it has certainly given me a better understanding of the situation we find ourselves facing