The Winter Men

20141210-_V2C7912THIS MONTH WE invited Course Manager, Chris Mitchell, to describe a typical day for him and his greenkeeping team during the Winter months. 

“The morning starts in the dark at 06.30 when I arrive at the office to  check the weather forecasts and live rain radar. Then I read what golf we have on for the day as well as checking my e-mails for anything urgent that has arrived and reply to them. I then check the greenkeepers’ website for any latest information.

All the rest of the team arrive shortly before 07.00 to start their day’s work. We have a chat about what the weather will be doing and what golf is on together with anything relating to the previous day as we wait for daylight to break.

As soon as it is light enough some of the team head out onto the course to sweep all the greens plus any worm casts from the tee boxes and move the tee markers. They will also take backpack blowers with them to blow any pine needles or leaves away from greens and tees.

Two members of the team will go to the local petrol station to pick up fuel to refill the fuel store. Even though most of our equipment runs on diesel the leaf blowers, chainsaws and hand mowers use a good deal of petrol.

Next up is a trip to the workshop to check progress on the winter overhaul work on machinery before nipping back to the office to e-mail spares’ orders to suppliers and also source manuals for maintenance updates before sending off for both material and new machinery quotes as necessary.

The next job is to phone up some of the green staff out on the course to get an update of the course status and make a decision accordingly. Once we have established the weather conditions I can plan the day’s work to fit in with the available staff before updating the website. Then I can speak to Tim and Sam in the pro-shop to update them on course status, planned work for the day and get feedback from them on the previous day.

By now it is 09.00 and the team have come back in for a warming cup of tea which is a good time for a quick meeting in the Secretary’s office so that the in-house staff know what we are up to if asked by any members. At the time of writing this, yesterday most of the team were working on tree clearance but today conditions are a lot better so the time is right for some routine maintenance.

At 09.30 two of the team start slitting greens and four of them will start hand mowing the greens to tidy them up. They will always try to avoid  play on the course as much as is humanly possible and, if necessary, hop from one course to another to ensure a minimum disturbance to golfers. One of the team will be out refreshing the white lines around ground under repair and to check on mole traps as well as drain outfalls.

At 13.00 the team return to base for some lunch and a quick chat about progress on both of the courses. After 30 minutes it is time to get back out onto the courses. The two greenkeepers on slitting duties have only a few greens left to finish so will complete the work before washing down their equipment and refuelling. They will also mention any problems with machinery or things not quite as they should be to the mechanic who will make a note of it. They then go out again to divot up some of the tees before finishing.

The remainder, who are out mowing, get back in around 15.00 to wash, refuel and clean their mowers which are then handed over to the work shop to be re-audjusted the following morning. Then at 15.30 it is time for home and get set for tomorrow and see what the Winter weather will bring!

PS. Since writing this we faced a problem that clearly shows that, however much we plan there is always something that can happen that catches us unawares. In this case a delivery man in a large white van decided that it would be a good idea to try a short cut and turn left down the footpath on the second having delivered to the homes to the left of the 16th. Unsurprisingly he got stuck by the side of the tee-box. Some hours later he finally got pulled out leaving us (see below) to clear up the mess. Sadly, however hard we try, we can never legislate for acts of complete idiocy!”

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4 thoughts on “The Winter Men

  1. Hi Chris,

    Very informative, well done. Let us hope that members will read it in their numbers and thus have a better idea of what goes on during the winter.

  2. A very interesting overview of a typical days work. As a golfer I`m always surprised green keepers don`t cut grass anti-clockwise around the course so they only cross the paths of players once.

  3. Keep up the good work Chris. As we often discussed, the more information given to the members, the greater understanding they will have of what you and the boys are doing to try to present the courses in the best possible condition. I think Ted has opened many eyes with his excellent comments on the website.

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