Sometimes snowy or bitterly cold, sometimes wet and mild - January's weather can certainly vary. But, with daylight hours gradually increasing, there is no better time to state your ambitions and plan the year ahead.
What will it be? Attract more members to the club, boost playing experience, keep costs under control and bump up the revenue? Perhaps you have something more specific in mind, such as trading in an old tractor or finding new grass cultivars to meet the challenges of extended play? Whatever your plans, a visit to Harrogate Week - home of the annual British & International Golf Greenkeepers' Association (BIGGA) Turf Management Exhibition (BTME) - is sure to inspire.
Harrogate Week is a must for anyone serious about turf and the outdoor environment and, while it is organised by BIGGA, you don't have to be involved with golf to find the event stimulating. Whether you tend golf courses, tennis courts, sports pitches or even estates, there will be plenty to see and do.
BTME is the first big show of the year. Its significance is clearly indicated by the line-up of top brands including Bayer, British Seed Houses, Scotts and Vitax. There are five exhibition halls bursting with machinery and products ranging from aerators to workshop tools and fertilisers to seeds.
In all, more than 200 companies are exhibiting at the show. And this year the "biennial brotherhood" - the companies preferring to exhibit every other year - will be present. So, if you want to know what Kubota has been up to, see the latest John Deere tractors and the newest Toro mowers, organise demonstrations from Ransomes or discover what Sisis has had on the drawing board - then BTME is the place to be.
And there's more. While the show opens its doors on Tuesday, Harrogate Week actually starts on Sunday with the BIGGA Continue to Learn educational programme - supported by the Greenkeepers' Training Committee. From Sunday through to Thursday, top speakers are addressing topics of interest right across the industry spectrum. Management, environmental concerns and health and safety issues are looked at, along with practical guides to growth regulation and nutrition.
This year's billing includes a recent former member of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, who will give an insight into high-performance teamwork, achieving excellence and leadership. Imagine what that could do for your organisation.
As well as seminars there are also workshops. You need to pay to attend some, but others are free. And, of course, the exhibition is free. Other attractions include the Careers Clinic and Job Shop.
There's no doubt that Harrogate Week means business. But it is also fun. And perhaps the biggest magnet of all is simply to attend an event where like-minded people are always eager to discuss all matters relating to your industry. Just remember to pack your wellies and a snow shovel - and find out why.
When: Tuesday 22 January to Thursday 24 January. The show opens at 9am on all three days, closing at 5pm on Tuesday and Wednesday and at 4pm on Thursday.
The Education Programme runs from Sunday to Thursday. For details see www.harrogateweek.org.uk.
Where: Harrogate International Centre
HOW TO GET THERE
From the North and South on A1M: exit A59 to Harrogate
From M1: to Leeds and then A61 to Harrogate
There is parking (charges apply) at Harrogate International Centre. A free park-and-ride services runs from the Great Yorkshire Showground to east Harrogate for all three days of the show.
Mainline services run to Leeds and York; from there, regional railways go to Harrogate. The Harrogate International Centre is about a 15-minute walk from the station.
Leeds/Bradford Airport is 19km away and Manchester Airport is 90km away.
Breakthroughs in perennial ryegrass breeding means turf managers can now incorporate advanced cultivars into their mixtures and mow down to between 4mm and 6mm. Find out more on DLF Trifolium's stand (A16), where the company is also launching the All Weather Sports Turf Mixture - a ryegrass, smooth-stalked meadow-grass and tall fescue blend that produces a dense but very fine turf with long rooting system, long-term drought tolerance and the ability to cope with stress.
Slender creeping red and chewings fescues make up BAR22 - a new 100 per cent fescue blend with improved drought tolerance and winter colour. Also new from Barenbrug (stand A20) is Bengal creeping bent, said to show superior spring green-up and excellent drought tolerance.
As the industry faces extremes of weather and tighter budgets, Lindum has developed a new low-maintenance fine turf. It includes crested hairgrass and is both drought and salt tolerant, and requires reduced feeding, aeration and mowing. See it on stand B5.
NUTRITION AND P&D CONTROL
Harrogate sees the official European launch of a liquid surfactant, DewCure, from Headland Amenity (stand C26) while Floratine is waging war on nematodes with a Turf Action Plan, including Astron to promote rooting, Floradox Pro to improve the plants' immunity system and ProteSyn to aid photosynthesis. Find out more on stand K3.
The latest generation of spray-pattern indicators, for use with herbicides, fungicides and liquid fertilisers, is introduced by Scotts Professional. The company's wide range of turf fertilisers is also under the spotlight on stand B34.
The Dial-In Water Management System makes its debut on Vitax's stand (A8). Designed for use with the Aqua-Aid range of products, this system uses information collected direct from the golf course to produce individual programmes tailored to that site.
There are more water-management products on stand A15 as Farmura shows an expanded range. News of Farmura's Mix & Spray nutrient-management concept is also promised.
Anyone looking for new irrigation systems should make a beeline for stand M5 where Toro Irrigation is unveiling the new DT (Dual Trajectory) Series of golf sprinklers. Toro says this sprinkler, which incorporates a special feature called "selectable trajectory", is the most advanced, durable and flexible of its type.
Having treated the Waterloo Crown Bowling Green in Blackpool, Terrain Aeration (stand B10) heads to Harrogate to talk about the advantages of the Airforce Scamper Terralift machine.
The company also offers a core sampling service in which it removes 1m-long cores, eliminating the need to excavate pits.
Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Speedcut Contractors (stand A19) is illustrating recent projects it has undertaken, including drainage work on golf courses and racecourses, and the construction of new pitches in Kent and the Isle of Wight.
BTME is not just mowers and aerators. New blowers and a commercial-grade battery hedgecutter head the billing on Echo's stand (M24).
Reportedly well received in the American market, Wiedenmann's Terra Spike XD makes an appearance on stand M11b, along with XP and the new nippy GXi greens aerators.
Clearing up after hollow coring is one of the themes on Turfmech's stand (C20), where the company is showing the SQRL walk-behind and CAT800 ride-on collectors. Both machines have fully floating brush/paddle collection mechanisms and high-dump hoppers.
Having acquired Allett Mowers last year, Turfmech is also organising an extensive line-up of products from the Allett stable. Shown on stand A23b are the Shaver, Tournament, Buffalo and Regal mowers, along with the C-Range turf-care system.
A new concept in trim and surrounds mowing is promised by John Deere as the new 7400 TerrainCut is unveiled on stand B15. Designed as a rotary alternative, this new unit is powered by a 36hp diesel engine and features on-the-move change of cutting width.
Having discovered the Graden linear aerator and Gwazae deep aeration system in Australia and New Zealand, R&K Kensett this year returns to Harrogate to show the Graden Roller. This "split-head design" is intended to eliminate ridging on soft surfaces and can be viewed on stand A12.
If it's a new tractor you want, be sure to visit stand A23a where Massey Ferguson is showing off its latest 32hp compact. Features of the MF1532 include 8x8 synchro-shuttle transmission and creep speed option.
Finally, BTME offers plenty for the workshop manager. According to Hunter Grinders, anyone with 25 or more cylinder mowers should look at investing in their own grinding equipment. On stand C11 the company is showing the latest software designed to simplify set-up of its automatic grinders.