Suffering grass given a hot shower

AN ingenious plan to bring the colour back into the Royal Hongkong Golf Club's (RHKGC) fairways and greens has paid off . . . in the nick of time.

Last month's unseasonal cold snap left Fanling's Composite layout looking the worse for wear and gave RHKGC course superintendent Gene Palrud and his 95 groundstaff sleepless nights.

For six successive nights at the end of January temperatures in the New Territories plummeted to zero degrees, covering much of the course in frost.

With the soil temperature down the frost penetrated into the roots which meant the club's warm weather Bermuda turf ceased to grow.

Desperate times called for desperate measures. And so it was that Palrud instigated a recovery plan by applying warm water first to the greens and then the fairways.

Said American-born Palrud: ''We needed to heat up the soil temperature and so we treated the course with what we called warm rain.'' Potassium was also added to help the turf stand up better against the cold and revive its growth when the weather became warmer.

No-one in Hongkong was more relieved than Palrud when temperatures began to rise again last week and the results of his team's hard labour are now bearing fruit.

Said Palrud: ''We've been working from daylight to dusk and we've had to dig deep into our bag of tricks. We've had a lot of help from Mother Nature over the last few days and it looks like our efforts have been a success.

''If the weather remains kind we're going to have a good track. The fairways will be tight and fast and the greens should be reasonably quick.''