A superb golf course and green is difficult to maintain. In the UK we have relatively predictable seasonal weather, however, that does not make it any easier to protect a golf course during the winter.
Cold, wet, windy weather is common. When this is combined with people walking around the course can turn grass into mud and leave the green damaged. So, during the winter we ask our members at West Essex Golf Club to take some precautions with our Winter Rules and change their game to help protect the golf course.
How is Golf Different During the Winter?
As previously mentioned, a beautiful golf course is only created with careful maintenance. But, the wet, windy weather has adverse effects on the playing style of golfers.
For golfers only used to playing in perfect conditions, they will find that their ball does not run as far. So, golfers who would normally expect to hit the green easily on a par 3, may find that their ball will not roll as far when teeing off. The same is true on the putting green, so golfers will need to measure their putt in a different way to more ideal conditions. You don’t want your birdie turning into a bogey simply due to inexperience of playing in the cold.
Read More: Playing Golf in the Cold: How to Keep Warm
What Are Winter Rules?
Winter Rules are implemented by golf clubs during the winter months to protect the course from excessive damage.
Every golf club will have different Winter Rules and they will be clearly indicated by the club in the clubhouse and each tee area. Members need to respect the rules to ensure the course remains playable for other golfers.
We can’t speak for every golf club in the country but we can explain how we protect our course at West Essex Golf Club.
A Shorter Course
We reduce the length of the course during the winter from 18 holes to 9 holes. This ensures that half the course is fully protected from pitchmarks and divots, which are more difficult to repair during the winter.
No Buggies, No Trolleys
Although carrying your bag of clubs is a bit more strenuous than driving or pulling them around on a trolley, we ban golf buggies and trolleys. For obvious reasons, buggies are much heavier than people and trolleys have narrow wheels. These can create tread marks without realising it, and if a buggy or trolley gets stuck, further damage to the ground is difficult to repair. If any members require mobility assistance, then we allow exceptions.
During the winter we install winter tees. What are winter tees? They are simply a small patch of astroturf in the tee area to protect the ground when people are teeing off. We ask members to use a rubber tee on the area as wooden tees are unable to be stuck in the ground.
Pick and Place
With adverse weather conditions, wind can blow a golfers ball in an unintended direction or a ball can become muddy. In the case that a ball lands close to a mown area we allow ‘pick and place’. Per the Rules of Golf, players can lift, clean and place their ball within six inches of where it has come to rest.
A few other things to note:
- The committee is responsible for determining winter rules in competitions. However, when engaging in a friendly fourball with your regular golfing companions, the decisions regarding rules rest solely with the group.
- Winter rules specifically apply to “closely mown areas,” which include sections of the course cut to fairway height or less. This encompasses paths through the rough, as well as the fringes or aprons around the greens.
- It is imperative to mark the ball’s position before lifting, cleaning, and placing it. Failure to do so results in a one-stroke penalty. Once you place the ball, it is considered in play, and you only have one attempt at placing it. If the ball does not come to rest on the chosen spot, you may try again at that location. However, if it still fails to settle, you must place it at the nearest spot where it can be at rest, not closer to the hole and not in a hazard.
- A word of caution: if the ball initially comes to rest on the chosen spot but subsequently moves before you play, there is no penalty. Yet, you must play it as it lies. Attempting to pick up the ball and place it again incurs a penalty stroke for moving a ball in play, and you must return it to the spot where it initially rolled or moved.
Read more: Why Golf is the Perfect Hobby to Start in the New Year
The Best Protection? Communicate With Members
The best method to protect the green during winter is to keep communicating with our members.
Every week we send out a newsletter to remind members of the correct etiquette for winter golf. We remind members to respect the course and fix any pitchmarks or divots that are unavoidable whilst playing a round.
Also, we have information around the clubhouse reminding members of the Winter Rules and provide winter tees in our on-site shop, in case members run out.
Become a Member to Enjoy Winter Golf at WEGC
Winter golf is challenging, but as with golf at any time of the year, practice makes perfect!
If you live in Essex, or London, West Essex Golf Club offers golf memberships at reasonable prices and incredible benefits. These include access to our newly improved clubhouse, discounts on food and drink, as well as discounts on room hire.
Contact us today to discuss becoming a member and learn more about these fantastic benefits.