The secret secretary: Why do some golf clubs close because of extreme weather?

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir July 1, 2018 15:26

Sometimes golf club managers like to discuss controversial issues with their peers under the cloak of anonymity. Here, a ‘secret secretary’ asks why some golf clubs close during snow or rain while neighbouring clubs remain open

Nothing divides feelings stronger than the decision to close the course. It is an area where proprietary and private members’ clubs face the strongest divide. Private members’ clubs do not feel the financial aspect so strongly. They have the members’ money in the bank and  other forces come into play. Many private members’ committee members seem to love the power they have to close the course. They seem to get a thrill from pressing the klaxon button and clearing the course at the slightest chance! One private member circular described the course as ‘unplayable’. How on earth would he know and how can anyone ever use that emotive and rather insulting phrase?

I wonder whether private members’ courses would be closed so often if it directly affected their own pay packet as it does with proprietary courses.

I, personally, have never seen ill effects from playing on frost and snow, and for at least 15 years we have had the policy of never closing. I have felt it better that people find out for themselves that playing in snow (and so on) is not much fun, than some other bossy person telling them they cannot play on their course.

So often I have seen proprietors roll their eyes skyward and smirk behind their hands when they hear of the private members’ club down the road (with twice their greenstaff), announce their course will be closed for the next two weeks because it rained hard last night.

I’ve seen similar reactions from private members’ club secretaries when they hear a proprietary course has stayed open for the last three weeks while everywhere else has closed.

We have received a flurry of new members from clubs frustrated at seeing our course – on lower subs – stay open and in good condition, when they watch greenkeepers driving tractors over their course and they are told: ‘it’s too wet / frosty / snowy for golf play’.

There are of course different soils to consider: Perhaps playing on frost does damage grass on sandy soils and our clay-based grass is unaffected, but there are such big differences in course closure regimes in the same areas it is worthy of a wider debate.

The opinions expressed on this page are those of the authors, not The Golf Business. The authors change from article to article, but so far have only been golf club managers or golf club owners. If you’re interested in contributing a ‘secret secretary’ article for The Golf Business, email


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir July 1, 2018 15:26
Write a comment

1 Comment

  1. Fred January 8, 13:59

    My golf club, aprivate members one, purchased a machine for picking up leaves that fall during Autumn & winter, ( now that’s a surprise), but lately areas of fairways and fringes have abundances of fallen leaves which can lead to slow play etc due to looking for a lost ball. When greens staff are asked why the leaf picker is not employed , they reply
    That due to wet conditions the machine could damage the fairways, so they have to try and clear leaves by hand.Bear in mind the club only has three greens staff for an eighteen hole course.

    Reply to this comment
View comments

Write a comment


Join Our Mailing List

Read the latest issues

Advertise With Us

For editorial enquiries in the magazine or online, contact:

For advertising enquiries in the magazine or online, contact: