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Revealing Just How Tough This Winter Has Been For Golfers

By: | Fri 05 Apr 2024

We're simply thrilled that springtime is finally here - as it's been a rather dismal winter for golfers! Record levels of rainfall and frequent storms have been a recurring theme of late, and the impact has been keenly felt by our beloved courses and those of us who play them.

Recently, we have covered extensively the statistics and individual stories behind these sodden past few months: 

Looking across the Irish Sea, Club Management Association of Ireland (CMAI) conducted a survey that has revealed the startling fact that courses have been closed anywhere between two and four times more days this winter than has been seen in previous years.

However, beyond that, we wanted to connect with members of the Golfshake Community directly to gather their feedback and hear about their experiences and what the inclement weather has meant for their game.

Running a snap, 24-hour survey, over 1,600 golfers responded, and your comments and answers paint an unsurprising picture of just how bleak it has been for those of us who were keen to secure our regular golfing fix throughout winter.

Have golf courses in your area been closed more often than normal this winter?

Winter Survey

  • 89% (Yes)
  • 8% (No)

Have you played less golf than you planned to this winter because of the wet and stormy weather?

Winter Golf Survey

  • 82% (Yes)
  • 10% (The Same)
  • 7% (No)

Does the impact of this extreme weather make you concerned about the future of some golf courses?

Winter Survey

  • 83% (Yes)
  • 17% (No)

Ultimately, it has been the case that the overwhelming majority of golf courses have been forced to close more often than normal, which has had a significant impact on the number of rounds that golfers could play, something that has a lot of you concerned that the future sustainability of some layouts could be threatened by the fallout of these conditions. 

Finally, when asking for comments, the question we presented was:

Has this tough winter for golfers changed or affected your plans at all for this coming season?

61% of you replied with a comment related to NO but 39% stated YES in some way - suggesting that the winter weather could yet have further ramifications as we enter the main golf season.

Looking at your comments in greater detail, we can bracket them into distinct categories, which adds further insight into the experiences of everyday golfers this winter and what it could mean for the year ahead.

How Bad Has The Weather Been?

"I do wonder what condition our courses are going to be in as the year progresses. All the paths at my course have turned to mud and there are puddles everywhere - despite the fact that the club has spent a fortune on new drainage."

"As a club chairman, the change in weather patterns is really concerning. This is the wettest 18-month period for 188 years and we have experienced our worst closure levels ever."

"I usually play two or three times a week during the winter, but my course has been virtually closed since the start of the winter due to flooding and waterlogged conditions and still is. I've probably played three times in that period as other courses are either closed or very muddy, the additional cost is also a factor. It's not clear when we are going to get back to normal play. Currently improving my swing at the range so at least there is one benefit!"

"I think we're living in a period of extremes and I wouldn't be at all surprised if fairways weren't burnt out by the end of July!"

We certainly like the sound of that optimistic remark - as we could all do with a warm and dry summer to come!

Winter Golf

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

What Have Golfers Done This Winter?

While more of us have locked away the clubs over winter, many of you have been proactively finding ways to keep going, including travelling further afield to find suitable venues.

"I have played more links golf over winter."

"I've just had to travel a bit further to play winter golf."

"Having spent money on the course over the last three years to improve winter golf, our course has been open much more than in the past even though the winter has been wetter."

"I am fortunately a member of a relatively new course - Ingrebourne Links - designed with state-of-the-art drainage and irrigation, so had a good winter's golf."

"We are able to play in winter on a course that is relatively unaffected by very wet weather - it is on chalk and therefore very well drained." 

"This is my first season of winter golf and I have played at least three times a week. Whilst the conditions have been horrendous I have enjoyed playing and trying to improve. Looking forward to a good summer of golf."

"Very fortunate to be on a chalk course therefore only a couple of days lost to the weather."

"I went down to once a week during the wettest weather but am slowly heading back to twice a week now. We're lucky enough to have two courses at my club and while one has been closed since November, the other stayed open most of the time albeit with a lot of temporary greens."

We're intrigued to hear that some among you are now considering taking breaks abroad to escape future wintry conditions!

"I'm putting more into planning of trips over next winter and plan to go twice to Spain or Portugal."

"I will go abroad more next winter!"

"Decided to go to Europe to play golf in April instead of the UK."

"I might be thinking of having a new year break to another country instead of October/November time."

"I will plan a trip abroad for the first time in my life. I will also try and play more when the weather permits."

"I plan to play abroad this year, something I have not done ever before. I will also try to play as often as possible when the weather permits."

What Concerns Do You Have?

Understandably, golfers have expressed major concerns about recent events, namely the impact it could have on their game, the ongoing condition of golf courses, and even their future sustainability as we look forward to (hopefully) better times to come.

"Competitions not starting for another month. Doubt as to whether courses around the UK will be ready for competitive play even by May."

"Already missing local golf competitions because of the waterlogged courses."

"As the bad weather continues and shows no signs of letting up, I am becoming more and more concerned that courses are not going to be in very good condition during the summer season either."

"Concerns about booking away days to other courses due to closures or poor conditions on the course."

"I am more wary of course conditions and the weather. I have a potential tournament this weekend and it could be a carry only in which case I will not be able to compete, I am over 60 and have a dodgy back."

"It's just so difficult to prepare or plan. When we do get better conditions the courses no doubt will be booked out and tee times impossible. This will also impact pace of play and such. Greenkeepers will also be under pressure."

"It's now early April and have no idea when the season will start. Weather is now severely affecting 12-month memberships."

"Just major frustration my course has been closed more than 60% of the time between December and March, on reduced holes for a further 30% and open fully for 10%."

"My season has started much later than normal. I never play very much in winter but start at the driving range in January. Had first round yesterday but conditions very poor and did not really enjoy it that much as so wet underfoot."

"Need my course to focus more resources on repairing and upgrading drainage. I am also unaware of what other works have been done while the course has been closed for prolonged periods."

"Competitions and matches are being cancelled and postponed. And we only have 11 playable holes. Having got into the habit of playing less than three times a week as I used to, I probably will continue to play less."

"Clubs will increase green fees to compensate for losses over last few months."

"The conditions are still as bad if not worse than November, December. Things are still poor, and am considering giving up autumn and winter golf in future or finding another course similar to a links course."

"Unable to play a number of courses in Shropshire, also the courses that are open are now extremely busy as people want to play but their usual or closest courses are closed."

"Will hope to play more, one problem has been that due to the wet weather, my local course has only allowed carry only."

"We are in April, season has officially started but it still feels very much like winter here. Hardly been able to play due to weather, or practice effectively.".

"Really not sure whether annual green fees are value for money, working five days a week with shorter daylight hours and courses closed due to the extremely wet weather conditions has meant that my average green fee per annum has risen significantly."

"Waterlogged courses that are unplayable for long periods have made me decide not to be a club member - 12-months fee for a six-month season makes no sense."

"Can my club afford to stay open. The extra cost of winter maintenance and loss of green fee income is stretching club reserves."

Things have sounded rather grim, but we're hopeful that this frustration will lead to a burst of enthusiasm during the weeks and months ahead. Many of us have been deprived of golf during this past winter, which should offer the motivation to get back out there once the opportunity arises.

It's time for the season - and this is the moment for you to seize the opportunity to Play More & Play Better!

What do you think? post your thoughts and feedback on the Golfshake Forum: https://forum.golfshake.com/

Tags: winter golf industry insider GOLFERS Golf Clubs Golf daily picks

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