Unseasonably warm weather both in the UK and the USA, but sadly with record rainfall to accompany the high temperatures. And the Course now inevitably closed on Monday 20th December, and Tuesday, Wednesday and now Christmas Eve, due to waterlogging, the ground now absolutely saturated.
Whilst typing this weather update, the news on the TV is about the terrible floods in Cumbria. People flooded out of their homes, some of them for the third time in a couple of weeks. Last year it was the Somerset levels when vast swathes of the West Country were underwater for days and weeks on end. Fifteen years ago it was Uckfield high street that was flooded - probably flooded by all the rain running off Crowborough Beacon golf course after non-stop rain. But, not as much as we are now experiencing.
We appear to be breaking yet more records after last winter’s record winter rainfall, but this time the records are falling much earlier. A wet autumn this year, rather than a wet winter last, to which we have become accustomed in recent years. This has led to the course closure, although other courses too are saturated and closed, so we are not alone. If the predictions are to be believed, it seems highly likely that we’ll probably be closed for several days to come judging by the forecast. All over Christmas probably. If the record temperatures and weather patterns in the USA end up heading our way, as they often do, it almost certainly means the wet weather could last into the New Year if we’re really unlucky. At least the course will finally get a well-earned rest.
Regarding the rainfall, for those interested in the statistics, the graph below shows the 4 months of autumn, August-November included, which shows the highest rainfall for this period in the last six years. Alarming enough to explain why the ground is waterlogged right now. Worth highlighting the steady, yet dramatic increase over the same four-month period from the driest autumn period in 2011 to the wettest now, where we have had an astonishing three times the rainfall over the same period.
But consider an even longer period of comparison. I recall some members telling me that when Course Manager Michael Poole began his career at Crowborough in 2000, how it rained for “forty days and nights” and it was during that period that Uckfield was flooded. The rainfall we are suffering now, over the same period in 2015 exceeds any other year, in fact the worst not just for six, but for fifteen years plus, in fact beyond the start of our record keeping.
The two graphs above were compiled only a week into December, which we hoped would offer a respite from the rain. But how wrong could we be? So now see the same two periods below, but with December each year now included. Remember, this December, 2015, includes rainfall only up to 22nd December, so it remains incomplete, yet with the likelihood, in fact the absolute certainty of more rain to come over Christmas, in which case the graph can only get worse. The figures speak for themselves.
It really is quite something to see over twice as much rainfall for the autumn period in 2015, than we had in 2011. And approximately 25% more than in each of the last three same autumn periods. Unfortunately, it's not over yet. At least we are not Cumbria, in which case perhaps we have got off lightly...
So, with the harshest three months of the winter golfing season still to come, we really do need every member who can carry their clubs, even a reduced set, to do so, for as long as possible. We have some very fit 80 year olds cheerfully carrying their clubs, who set a fine example. The more who can manage to carry, who abandon their trolleys and carry instead a reduced set of clubs if necessary, the easier it will make the decision whether to be open or closed. Easier to take the difficult decision over whether we can allow trolleys for those who simply can’t carry. And the more who do so, the better the chance of the course being in good shape, sooner, come the spring.
We’ll update the rainfall figures to reflect the calendar year when we finally move into 2016. In the meantime, Happy Christmas with or without any golf, and best wishes for the New Year.