1. What time do you arrive at the club?
During the summer we normally start at 5:30am and during the winter months we reduce our hours and start time to 7:30am.

2. Can you describe your morning routine?
Most mornings I will have a quick walk of the greens and fairways closest to the greenkeepers area for a quick assessment. We then have daily meetings where we allocate the tasks for the day ahead. During the summer months we will have two men hand mowing greens 5 days a week and depending on the schedule of the day we will normally have one or two men attending the bunkers. Hole changing is carried out three days a week and the course is set - this could also incorporate a greens iron if the occasion demands. We only use our iron on average once a week - the use of hand mowers on the greens 12 months of the year ensures an exceptional playing surface.

3. How many people are there in your greenkeeping team and is it a fair number for your collective workload?
We run on 5 at present, however our numbers have fluctuated between 6 and 7 over the last few seasons. This year should see us stabilise at 7 with 2 new apprenticeship positions being considered. Having 5 members of staff has its demands but we adapt throughout the season to achieve our goals.

4. Do you share tasks?
Yes we try to allow variety in the working season. Though some men are better suited to certain operations, we make an effort to let everyone have a go at all the tasks.

5. How do you motivate your colleagues?
I have a willing team which makes my job much easier, however I always try to ensure the staff are informed of the many great comments we receive from visitors or after a major competition. This lets them know that their efforts have been appreciated. A few times a year I like to take the staff for a bite to eat and a few beers, especially at the end of a major weeks work in preparation of some of the large events we hold.

6. What’s your favourite season of the year and why?
I love the spring. The course is waking up after a hard winter, the smell of freshly cut grass is back in the air and the light green leaves appear on the trees.

7. What aspect/functions of your job gives you the greatest satisfaction?
Making the membership happy has to be on anyone's list. Personally I love the agronomic side of the industry, plant health and nutrition dovetailed with cultural works. An understanding of these subjects will allow you some personal satisfaction that you are maintaining turf to its optimum condition.

8. What gives you the least?
All things related to autumn - leaf fall, heavy dew, disease pressures and overall drop in presentation. And with the seasons getting longer, autumn seems to run for half of the year now… Not a fan!


9. Have you attended any courses recently? If so, which ones and how has this helped?
I recently studied Grassland Ecology and Tree & Woodland Management through Myerscough College. These courses have added to my passion for the conservation of the natural woodland stock and have given me the tools to work with conviction, and the knowledge that we are creating a sustainable woodland for the generations to come. This also improves the overall diversity of our space within a built up area, offering a haven to wildlife.

After the arrival of our new Trilo S3 leaf collector we now have a piece of equipment that makes the clearing of leaves from fairways and ditches an enjoyable experience so this task has become a lot more popular than before!


10. What piece of equipment would you say is the most popular and frequently used by you and your team?
Our John Deere hand mowers are without doubt are the most used equipment on the course - all our staff prefer the use of hand mowers as you get a more intimate experience during use. After the arrival of our new Trilo S3 leaf collector we now have a piece of equipment that makes the clearing of leaves from fairways and ditches an enjoyable experience so this task has become a lot more popular than before!


11. How would you improve the greenkeeping industry?
Education! Keeping staff motivated and committed to the industry is best done through good education and short courses. I believe that the courses on offer at the moment are lacking in diversity. Greenkeepers have many trades to master, why not give more distance learning opportunities through the colleges to become drainage or irrigation experts… I myself carried out further education in ecology and woodland management, only because I was lucky enough that the club allowed me to attend college for a year on day release - not a luxury we all get as Course Managers!


12. Has a golfer ever deliberately directed a ball at you?
No, I'm far too likeable for that to have happened!


13. What is your favourite machine and why?
As I mentioned above the arrival of our Trilo S3 has been popular. I have used Trilo at previous clubs so knew the quality of this equipment. With such a large quantity and variety of trees, leaf fall at Northenden Golf Club is consistent from September to January when the last of the Oak finally drop. This process is now no longer as daunting as in previous years. The great back up and service provided by our suppliers helps us to really appreciate the quality of the equipment. As far as the staff are concerned, having this unit greatly lifts their moral as they now know that when asked to clear leaves from open ditches they no longer need to spend the day with rakes and shovels - they can now clear a ditch in an hour with the wander hose. This frees up a lot of time for other projects, making this time of year a little more productive.


14. Have you ever had any mishaps with lakes on the course or had to undertake a rescue of a daft golfer?
No we don’t have any lakes. However we did once came in to find a buggy in a ditch - we had to winch it out with our tractor but luckily no damage was done and after a little clean it was returned to the pro shop for re-hire. The culprit shall remain unnamed…!


15. What is the most interesting animal/bird you have sighted on your course and what do you do to support wildlife?
We have over the last few years acquired our own resident Buzzard which has been great - she doesn’t seem to be phased by the golf traffic and can be seen daily flying in and through the trees. I like to think that all of our work on the woodlands, especially lifting the crowns and selective thinning, has started to make this space more inviting to birds of prey as they can get to the understory for hunting, allowing the larger birds to move easily.


16. Are you experiencing any evidence of climate change? If so, in what way is it affecting your job?
Yes the last 3 or 4 years in particular have been very wet and mild. This has an impact on all aspects of the job, from budgets to equipment use.

 

Greenkeeping is more than the grass cutting job they may think it is.



17. What advice would you give to a young greenkeeper starting out today?
Greenkeeping is more than the grass cutting job they may think it is. It is a science based industry that is advancing at a great pace and young minds with a passion for the industry can have a fulfilling career - you will get out whatever you put in.


18. How do you spend your leisure time?
I love to spend time with my children. I read when I can and like to swim and run.