An unusual November
by TurfPro Editor, Laurence Gale MSC, MBPR
Laurence Gale MSC, MBPR

Now firmly into our second lockdown, we are all aware of the sanctions we must accept to try to slow this virus down. The monitory cost to the country is astronomical and will no doubt affect the lives and health of many until we can roll out an effective vaccine. However last week, we had the good news of a breakthrough on that front with a potential vaccine showing promise.

Preliminary data from the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine trial suggests it provides 90% efficacy at preventing the disease. At the very least, this news will result in a large sigh of relief across the vaccine community. It signifies a breakthrough – it is the first announcement that a vaccine can protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection in humans.

If all goes well the government are talking about rolling a vaccine programme out early next year.


50,000 deaths are a stark reminder of the severity of this pandemic and we should all do our best to safeguard the welfare of our family, friends and co-workers.


This year’s Remembrance Services were a somewhat more sombre affair with reduced numbers able to attend both at the Cenotaph, Whitehall and Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.

However, I did enjoy seeing our industry embracing the whole poppy appeal in the form of all the poppies painted on sports fields up and down the country. Ed Smith of Agrovista Amenity UK for example painted a large poppy at the Quarry Shrewsbury for the Council.

As usual Ian Courage of Fleet Line Markers Ltd painted their respects on Malvern Rugby Club’s first team pitch. 



Covid updates for our sectors

Following the announcement of a second national lockdown, the GMA have updated their interim works documents to help guide grounds staff with maintenance work that can be carried out over the next few weeks whilst sports have been halted.
As for rugby, the RFU have made some announcements here.


I also read with interest the RFU are asking every rugby club in England to send it a club shirt to help create a visual representation of clubs at Twickenham Stadium during the men's Quilter Internationals, and women's meet with France in November – with the shirts to be placed on seats.
It will be interesting to see how clubs respond to this request and should all participate it will be a visual and inspirational gesture to help promote the continuing efforts of our rugby community.

Each shirt will remind the players where they started their rugby careers, that we’re all still cheering them on from a distance and perhaps most importantly, underline to everybody watching on TV the importance of grassroots rugby and the impact the pandemic is having on our community game.

Last week I attended another successful RFU Webinar hosted by Ted Mitchell National Facilities Manager along with Keith Kent and Ben Langdon who gave a talk about the importance of pitch maintenance through the winter months - especially concentrating the benefits of aeration and what methods can be used at different times of the year. 



As for football, not one of their best weeks with the resignation of their chairman Greg Clarke regarding some inflammatory remarks during a parliamentary question time. Apart from elite football, no other competitive football can be played.


Following the UK Government’s latest announcement regarding the introduction of local COVID alert levels, the guidance for grassroots football, which includes NLS Feeder Leagues (Step 7) and below of the Men’s Football Pyramid and Tier 7 and below of the Women’s Football Pyramid, remains the same. 

It is extremely important that clubs, players, coaches, match officials, league officials, volunteers, parents, carers, and facility providers continue to strictly follow this guidance as well as the UK government’s latest guidance on COVID-19. 

As for golf, The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf has conceded that there is no more that can be done to persuade the Government to alter its position to allow golf to continue during the present lockdown, therefore all golf clubs will remain closed until the 2nd December.


Some tough decisions will have to be made by many golf clubs on how they continue to treat their greenkeeping staffing arrangements during this second enforced lockdown. Some will be furloughed while other clubs may choose to keep on their staff fulltime to ensure they can complete essential renovation work while the clubs are closed.

Some other news on the golfing front is that BIGGA has established a formal relationship with the RSPB and The R&A’s partnership, that will see the association explore collaborative opportunities to increase awareness and support for biodiversity conservation on golf courses. Read all about it here.


And finally, I came across an interesting article about how golf professionals motivate themselves during a major tournament - the principals of which I believe can be applied to those of us working in the professional turfcare sector.

The article went into detail about the way golfers talk to themselves can affect their putting success by 66%, according to sports psychologist Dr Martin Turner and Professor Marc Jones of Manchester Metropolitan University.

In 2011, Rory McIlroy had a four-shot lead after the first day of the Masters. However, he bogeyed the par-four first on Sunday, and then squandered his chances of a first major victory over the space of four holes - closing at eight-over 80. Charl Schwartzel took the Green Jacket.

What were McIlroy’s reflections after this collapse? “There are lot of worse things that can happen in your life . . .  Shooting a bad score in the last round of golf tournament is nothing in comparison to what other people go through”.

He said that “You’ve just been in a place where millions of people have no clean water, and millions of kids get no education, and you’re nervous about hitting a golf ball into some water!" McIlroy went on to win his first major (US Open) in resounding fashion, shattering the tournament scoring record and winning by eight strokes.

In fact, McIlroy now appears to have moved on completely from that Masters collapse, stating that, “It’s the screensaver on my laptop. I love that view down the hill on 10. It’s my favourite spot at Augusta”. Rather than being the scene of a nightmare, it’s becoming the scene he likes the most at Augusta National.

The winner of this year’s 2020 Augusta National was Dustin Johnson with a course record of 20-under 268 total. It was a thorough victory and represented his control in every aspect of the game on the way to the famous Green Jacket. For the record Rory Mcllroy came 5th with a creditable -11 under par. 

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