The Last Few Days @ Malone
It has only been three days since I put up my first attempt at a blog post and because this hasn't been advertised I'm not entirely sure how many members are even aware of its fledgling existence, but there has already been plenty of things taking place at the Club that are worthy of reporting on, so here goes with another effort...
Over the course of this last week we have experienced thunder, lightning and torrential rain on several occasions - the ladies were just about able to complete their competition on Tuesday before play was abandoned and everyone was taken off the course due to lightning in the vacinity and torrential rain, which caused some water ingress in one of the dining rooms and Ballydrain Bar.
On Wednesday, play was postponed for about half an hour during the late afternoon, again due to weather-related delays, but thankfully the golf was able to resume and we managed to complete the men's midweek competition.
Thursday was a great day by comparison and I was able to take some lovely photos of Edenderry, which have been getting some favourable likes and comments on our Facebook page.
However, the weather forecast for the early hours of Friday morning was extremely accurate and this cannot be better illustrated by the below pictures of the upper half of the 8th fairway on the Edenderry nine (soon to become our new warm-up range hitting zone) - one of which was taken on Thursday afternoon and the other was taken on Friday morning:-
Due to the flooding in the early part of Friday morning, all courses were closed first thing, but thanks to the efforts of the green staff we were able to open the main course at 11am, albeit with the bunkers being treated as GUR for the Sport Changes Life charity golf day which involved a two tee start from shortly after midday.
Around the same time, the bowling section were enjoying Prosecco and hot dogs, together with a short tournament (which consisted of around six ends if I'm correct?) as part of Heather Johnson's Lady President's Day.
The bowling green was also flooded earlier in the morning, but thankfully it had drained sufficently to allow play to take place during the afternoon - on behalf of the bowlers involved, thanks go to Perry Orr, our 1st Assistant Greenkeeper, for hand cutting the rink in the rain to get everything ready in time.
The green staff were then tasked with helping move and store most of the furniture from the Ballydrain Bar overnight, whilst our House Manager, Stephen McCausland, and his team brought in hired furrniture to set up the Ballydrain Bar for the the first of our two evening functions which were set to take place concurrently.
The dining/function rooms had already been set up for the Sport Changes Life dinner and charity auction after their golf, wilst the Drumbridge Room was available for casual dining, and the upstairs bar was also in use to accommodate everyone during the course of the afternoon and evening - all three bars in operation at the same time does not happen very often thankfully!
In my five years as General Manager of Malone Golf Club I have not witnessed a day as busy and fraught with issues due to scheduling and weather concerns, but I am so proud of all the staff at the Club who worked tirelessly throughout the day to ensure every member and/or guest in attendance had a wonderful experience - I cannot thank every single member of the bar, catering, kitchen, shop, course and cleaning/house staff enough for their efforts over the last few days and I am very privileged to be their GM.
Last and not least in respect of Friday's events - congratulations to John Reid's Holt Shield team who won their first leg match against Greenacres GC at home by 3.5 - 1.5 matches. Play was unfortunately held back by at least 20 mins before teeing off due to the weather delays for the earlier two tee start, but the players were just about able to finish their matches in time before returning to the Drumbridge Room for a well deserved meal afterwards - best of luck to John and his team in the return leg at Greenacres this Thursday (15th Aug) at 4.30pm.
After the events of the previous day, it would have been nice to say we had a quiet day at the Club yesterday; however, that is rarely the case during the summer months. From early morning the course was being prepared for member play and we were just about able to have the bunkers in play, albeit with several of them being mostly filled with water and having to be pumped out.
The hired in furniture was then moved out of the Ballydrain Bar and the 'normal' furniture returned just before the rain started again - alas, the heavy deluge of rain that came in around midday caused the greens to flood and the competition to be abandoned.
Despite the course being largely closed for play, we still had several dining functions taking place yesterday and the Club was busy until around 11.30pm or so.
On a positive note, Philip O'Sullivan's Junior Cup team were successful in their semi-final match against Portsalon GC at Omagh yesterday afernoon and were able to come back to the Club last night for a celebratory meal - best wishes to the team in the Ulster final!
The Ulster Scratch Foursomes was due to take place at Malone today, with a strong field of 50 pairs due to compete - unfortunately, in conjunction with the GUI Ulster Branch, we had to make a call yesterday afternoon to cancel the championship due to the course conditions at that time and the unfavourable weather forecast for the remainder of the day and evening.
Although today's weather was reasonable, the bunkers had to be deemed as GUR and it would not be fitting for the Club to host a tournament of this stature if we are unable to present the course to the high standards we are accustomed to and would want visiting golfers of this calibre to experience/enjoy.
This then leads us in to the next topic for consideration - bunkers!
It is well known that our bunkers have not been performing satisfactorily in recent times, both from a playability and maintenance/drainage perspective. The above pictures illustrate the main problem pretty accurately, in that despite the efforts of our green staff to repair the bunkers each time we have heavy downpours, the increasing number of washouts/ins that we have only add to the problem in that the water is unable to drain away in many instances and some of the bunkers take days to drain fully or simply have to be pumped out manually.
The number of man hours involved in maintaining the 53 bunkers on our main/Championship course alone is considerable and steps need to be taken to renovate/reconstruct the majority of our bunkers over the next few years.
Thankfully, this issue has already been discussed/considered at length by the Green Committee/Council and the new practice green behind the clubhouse building will hopefully provide us with a suitable template for bunkers going forward, which will then enable us to start a rolling replacement programme of renewing bunkers to a proper specification starting in the very near future.
The Week Ahead
Unsurprisingly for this time of year the week ahead is yet another busy one - with the Lady Captain's Prize for the Juvenile Girls taking place tomorrow, the Ladies' Open Greensomes competition taking taking on Tuesday, a busy timesheet for the men's midweek competition on Wednesday, the Porsche Cup golf day and Clare GS President's Prize on Thursday, and then we have both the IFS corporate golf day and Council vs NIAGS match taking place on Friday.
As much as I would like to see a dry week or two on the horizon, unfortunately there is more rain forecast for the week ahead, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed in the hope that we don't have any more heavy or persistent rain over the next few days!
Until next time...