After six weeks of lockdown
by TurfPro Editor, Laurence Gale MSC, MBPR
Laurence Gale MSC, MBPR

After our sixth week of lockdown, again I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on how we as an industry are coping with Covid -19.

It would seem from the daily coronavirus government updates, that we are finally past the peak of this terrible virus and the government is now looking at ways, and will be announcing this week, a plan to start an unlock-down strategy for the country.

I must also take this opportunity to congratulate all the NHS staff and other front line services for their dedication and resolve in tackling this virus and equally the government who in my eyes have done a marvellous job of delivering and putting in place the huge infrastructure to conquer this pandemic.
In six weeks we have seen so many targets being met in the fight against this virus. We on course to regularly achieve the target of 100,000 daily test for the virus, built several Nightingale hospitals and sourced millions of pieces PPE equipment as well has organising all the logistics required to achieve their aims. Mind blowing to say the least.

I also want to take the opportunity congratulate Captain Tom Moore on his 100 birthday celebrations. So fitting he had a fly past and all the recognition for his amazing feat of raising over £32 million pounds for the NHS,

As discussed in previous blogs, this pandemic is likely to take a long time to disappear before we can get back to something like normality. Having spoken to many colleagues and industry professionals, most have similar thoughts, believing that even if and when businesses, sports clubs , shops, pubs, entertainment venues and other areas of the industry come back on line, many people will be weary of venturing back into the fray.

However, I personally think this pandemic has galvanised our country to re-think what our values are and in many ways has brought people together for the common good. In adversity we often see opportunities and innovation. I am sure many businesses will change the way they operate and make use of new technologies in the coming years.


I, like the rest of us, am trying to keep motivated, active and safe during this lock down. I am lucky as I can speak to many turf professionals and get an update on their activities and how they are coping.

We have been fortunate with the weather. We have come out of a very wet winter and into a very dry, reasonably cold spring, that has helped curtail the usual spurt of grass growth we often get at this time of the year - thus enabling us to keep on top of mowing regimes.

However, with last week’s downpours and with temperatures now rising into double figures, I am sure we will now see an increase in the need to mow grass more frequently.

Like many of us, I have had the chance to spend more time in the garden and have been busy renovating my own lawn - scarifying, aerating, topdressing and seeding - making efficient use of the recent good weather.



Last week I spoke to several golf course managers in the Midlands, who kindly gave me an update on how they were progressing. With everyone following both the government’s advice and sport’s governing bodies guidelines of only carrying out essential maintenance and self-distancing from one another, this is generally achieved with staggered breaks and work slots. Most said it was a strange feeling and not the same as having the whole crew in together.

One course manager told me, “Covid-19 has affected golf clubs all over the world. With golf being such a sociable game, I think things will be very different for the foreseeable future. Members’, players’ and staff safety is paramount and so the way clubs operate going forward will be under constant review.

In terms of the course being empty we have been able to be productive in certain areas such as the mowing tasks with no interference. Although with half the team being furloughed and heading into prime growing season, it is starting to prove difficult to keep on top of the work.


However, pests, namely corvids (members of the crow family), crows, magpies, jays and rooks have been down in their masses during Covid-19 and with the course empty (other than myself and two staff), over the 96 acres we have suffered extensive damage to the surfaces. A steady flow of golf traffic would normally be the deterrent, but it is proving difficult to keep such pests from attacking the turf, with leatherjackets being the prime target. Crows and magpies in large numbers can cause some serious disruption and gives us another challenge to face.”

It was similar stories from the others, who said that in the main it is becoming a strange working environment without the daily banter and the fact there was no pressure from members. Also similarly, they are witnessing a lot of surface damage by birds and mammals.

Considering some individual sports -



Golf :-Let’s hope the discussions between the golf ruling bodies and the government can sway an early return for the game of golf. Proposals for “safe golf” playing protocols have been submitted to the government by the R&A, which include the removal of bunker rakes and ball retrievers, as well as the covering of drinking fountains and ball washers. Other proposals are that flagsticks should not be touched, and tea times should be subject to a booking system with 10 minute intervals.

Football :- Premier League clubs on Friday reconfirmed their commitment to finish the 2019/20 season subject to coronavirus restrictions being lifted in Britain despite fears expressed by players.

The English top flight faces an estimated loss of around £1 billion if no more football is played due to the global pandemic.

Playing the 92 remaining games behind closed doors would mitigate that loss, avoiding the need to repay hundreds of millions to broadcasters.

But the Premier League faces huge logistical difficulties in its attempts to return to action, with Britain one of the countries worst-hit by COVID-19.

The tension surrounds not only how the plan to resume the football season behind closed doors at a small number of sealed and approved venues should develop, but whether it is realistic, responsible or indeed appropriate to pursue it at all. The sense is that hopes of a return to action by early June now hang by a thread.



Again at present most clubs are operating on a skeleton staffing regime and only carrying out the basic maintenance regimes required to keep the playing surfaces operational and safe for use. No doubt once the players return there will be a need to up scale the maintenance regimes to facilitate the wear and tear from use.

Rugby:-The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has already had a profound effect on our rugby clubs and with great uncertainty as to how long the changes will last, the RFU has compiled some advice for clubs on what to do immediately in order to mothball facilities as well as tips and guidance on:

  • Financial planning
  • How to mitigate any losses in revenue
  • Accessing external funding
  • Ideas to generate new income streams
  • Communicating with members and volunteers
  • Planning for the future when rugby will once again.
  • Sport England financial support

With football's Premier League stepping up plans to resume the season and some clubs opening their training grounds, rugby union is also considering what plans need to be in place to safeguard players welfare and return to play policies. 



As for financial help, for rugby clubs, the RFU have been supporting clubs with the following RFU support guide.

Rugby League:- Rugby league in England will receive £16m in government loans to help it recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Rugby Football League (RFL) chief executive Ralph Rimmer asked for assistance after the suspension of the game on 16 March.

Cricket:- The ECB has announced further delay to the professional cricket season. No professional cricket will be played in England and Wales until at least 1 July due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Hundred, cricket's flagship new tournament, has also become the latest sporting casualty of the coronavirus pandemic after being postponed until 2021.

Again, many cricket clubs are closed with their groundsmen / contractors doing the bare minimum - which in effect is cutting the square and outfields, fertilising and carrying out some rolling and prepping of some pitches. If the lockdown goes on much longer, some people are saying we may not see any cricket at all this season. Which no doubt may influence some clubs not to carry out any end of season renovations.


Bowls:- Again I have spoken to a number of bowls greenkeepers and they are only doing the bare minimum maintenance tasks during this crisis. Generally this means only mowing the greens twice or three times per week, along with some fertilising and watering as an when required.


Bowls England Covid-19 advice 

Grounds Managers Association (GMA) Covid-19 advice 

LikeLike (1)
In this issue
Sponsored Product Announcements
Charterhouse Turf Machinery
Garden trader