- Crowborough Common
Following the record rainfall over the end of 2015 and continuing into January 2016, the quality of the golf course has been greatly compromised by the damage inflicted upon the course, not only during this difficult spell, but during the previous few winters where course closures have been reduced, in line with the changes to Course Policy in 2010. Nevertheless the amount of course closures due to a saturated golf course have raised questions amongst some about the capability of our course, and its drainage systems, to cope. In times of extreme weather, such as this, it clearly can't cope, yet many courses remain closed as long or almost, as much as we do. In fact as January comes to a close, breaking all rainfall records, its clear that all the drainage systems in the world would not have kept us open.
Whilst comments that the course has become a "complete bog" are both unreasonable and inaccurate, nevertheless it is fair to say that all the good parts of the course, most of the tees, fairways and greens are ignored whilst the critical comments are focussed on the undoubtedly boggy areas. These are all, or most, at the ends of paths, which in many cases fall short of the fairways they serve. Or they are at the exit points from greens heading towards the next teeing ground, the pinch points that every club has. Managing these areas have clearly never been high priority and perhaps now is the time to embrace some 'quick fixes' with a use of Astroturf to enable golfers to simply get from 'Point A' to 'Point B' in as effective a way as possible. Even laid down over muddy areas simply to get us through the next few weeks. Do the job properly when conditions improve. The slideshow below serves as a record of areas which, however you look at it, lets the course down, now more than ever, and maybe some solutions need to be found quicker than would otherwise have been planned.
Parkstone allows an interesting comparison to Crowborough. A wealthy Club they have increased their greenstaff from 7-9 and their annual Course Expenditure spending from £280k-£480k in the last 6 years. A most attractive Heathland golf course, beautifully presented, it has regularly been ranked behind Crowborough in the top 100 English courses GOLF WORLD rankings, but have nevertheless been elevated into the Top 100 GOLF MONTHLY UK rankings, leaving the usually higher ranked Ferndown and Broadstone behind them. And yet, they too have pathways which end too soon, fail to reach the fairways, and find the inevitable 'pinch point' often just a few paces from a green becoming an absolute mess. Astroturf, previously considered by the purist to be undesirable close to a green, simply HAS to be a better bet, a more practical solution to barren, muddy when wet, concrete when dry areas which are just unacceptable at a Club which has any aspirations to be considered as a 'Premier' golf course.
In the midst of the wettest winter in living memory, it is still possible to make the very best of what you have. Its possible to divert the focus on areas which are perceived as bad, which they are, such as the muddy boggy areas, by a maximum effort to showcase what is clearly good. Neither of the two golf clubs shown below are ranked higher than Crowborough in the GOLF WORLD Top 100 but they both have handmown greens as standard practice, and as a result of some simple basic mowing, look terrific. Lesser quality greeens, technically speaking they may be, yet they both look and putt better than ours. Its not difficult for us to do the same, it's simply a question of ambition to show us in the best possible light.