Are we going to have a repeat of last summer's poor weather?
With August now just around the corner, surely the weather can only get better. September 2008 produced one the wettest periods that I can remember, and brought golf to a sudden halt all over the region for several days and unfortunately for some courses weeks.
On July 17th 2009 (and over the following 48 hours) we saw 75mm of rain fall here at Close House and unfortunately I have to admit the weather predictions for storms were right.
On inspection of the course I was pleased to see we didn't have any damage, and after last year we have spent a lot of time cleaning all our current ditches on site and installing new drainage where we thought necessary - and this has helped considerably, forcing us to only close the course for one day.
Although you can never have enough drainage, when we do have infrequent weather like we have just had, can we justify and is it possible to make our golf courses across the region storm proof?
After the experience of the last 12 months it would seem impossible to make courses storm proof especially when we have such heavy rain in a short time period, flooding is always going to happen.
What we can try to do is limit the time that the course is closed for after the event, we have been monitoring closely where on site we have issues when we do have heavy rainfall.
With having the River Tyne in arms reach here at Close House many people would assume it is easy for us to divert the rain into the Tyne.
Unfortunately, if the ditches and lakes on site can't hold the quantity of rain coming down then we are always at risk of localised flooding.
The construction of the new golf course and clubhouse on site has given us the opportunity to improve all our lakes by de-silting and creating a large new lake increasing our storage capacity for excess water has been dramatically improved.
All our lakes on site inter-link before eventually running into the River Tyne, this helps us to control water movement down the site.
The rain last year and this summer has allowed us to identify areas that flood because the water is being held up by pipes not big enough to cope with the rainfall we have had, and therefore we have and continue to install larger pipes at these points.
The one positive to take from our recent weather is that being July we still have time to recover before the winter providing it doesn't continue, last year in September many courses found it difficult to recover before the winter.
Another positive for us was although the rain has caused some minor wash out on the new course construction the ground actually dried very quickly which bolds well for the future drainage of the course, and being south facing and exposed to wind this will also help.
Luckily for The Open, the weather that weekend didn't seem to affect the golf, and after speaking to several of my members and staff who went up to watch the weather was in fact quite good.
It certainly made for an exciting four days and makes us all want to go and practise and play.
One of the highlights for me was seeing Italian 16-year-old Matteo Manassero produce such a good performance and act with such a professional attitude.
This will hopefully encourage other youngsters into golf. We are trying to do our best to encourage junior golf, with regular junior coaching on Saturdays, golf coaching in our local schools, and through August we are putting on a golf school of excellence which will allow junior beginners, intermediates and advanced players to have coaching with our PGA professional Jonathan Lupton.
With a limited number of spaces available per group please contact us early. There is a lot of work being done by the Golf Foundation and EGU to help promote golf to youngsters, because they are after all the future for our sport.
We as clubs need to do our best to make it appealing and enjoyable for juniors. Hopefully, with the setting up of the Northumberland Golf Partnership, this will helps clubs work together to brings juniors into the game and then keeping them playing as they progress.