Tributes for Burton groundsman

Tributes for Burton groundsman: Tributes have been paid to a green-fingered South Derbyshire man who tended to Burton Albion’s hallowed turf more than 30 years.

Alan Roberts has sadly died at home, aged 88.

Tributes for Burton groundsman

Mr Roberts worked most of his life as a coal sampler at Rawdon Pit, but in his spare time enjoyed looking after the bowling greens in and around Swadlincote.

He always had a love of football and was delighted to become the Brewers’ groundsman, first at Eton Park and later at The Pirelli Stadium.

Alan first started tending the pitch in the early 1980s, when Neil Warnock was manager, and continued until after the club moved to the Pirelli, which holds nearly 7,000 fans, in 2005.

His son, Paul, said: “He only really stopped because at his age when they moved to full-time at the new ground. That was too much for him.

“He was always there most mornings with different volunteers helping him at different times, quite often supporters who would come in if there was snow or waterlogged pitches.

“The football was his first priority, but he also looked after the bowls green at Newhall Social and quite a few other people asked him to help their groundsman. People used to pick his brains when things went wrong.

“He was a farm labourer in his early life and that is where he picked up the skills and his real love was always working outside.

“I was lucky enough to referee at a decent level and went to grounds all over the country and my dad was always keen to go with me when he could and if we turned up at a waterlogged pitch and I thought the game would be off he would say ‘ask the groundsman, he knows better than anybody’.

“He could walk on any pitch, bend down and tell you what type of grass it was. He absolutely loved it.”

Alan who was 88, passed away at home on Monday, November 4.

Burton Albion Chairman Ben Robinson, said: “It was very sad to hear that such a great servant to the football club had passed away.

“Alan will be fondly remembered by the many people he worked with over the years after battling with all the elements to make sure our games went ahead.

“Groundsmen are the unsung heroes without whom we could not enjoy football matches on a Saturday afternoon.

“Our thoughts are with his wife, Joyce, and all his family and friends at this time.”

Alan is remembered by Joyce, Paul – and Paul’s cousin, David, who Alan and Joyce brought up from an early age.

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Alaves groundsman nets award

Alaves groundsman nets award: John Stewart, from Laurieston, has been named the best groundsman in Spanish football in the year 2019 for his work on Deportivo Alaves’ Mendizorrotza Stadium pitch.

The 49-year-old was presented with his award and trophy at the annual La Liga greenkeeper’s dinner in Madrid last week, becoming the latest local sport and horticulture award winner after Falkirk’s Jim.

Alaves groundsman nets award

He told The Falkirk Herald: “It’s fantastic to receive an award from people who know what they’re talking about and what you are going through.

“The preparation to a pitch is what’s key. We can cut it six times and line it two or three before a match – but there is a lot of pressure.

“You are dealing with a living thing and aspects outwith your control like the weather can affect it.

“It was a lovely surprise to receive the award and it’s surreal too. I was interviewed about it on the pitch on Saturday standing beside Roberto Carlos. You do get up close to a lot of big names.”

John’s Spanish story began a lot further away though – on the greens and fairways of the golf course in America but he switched to football some ten years ago while in Spain. He took up the head green keeping role at Real Sociedad, later moving to Alaves, near his home in Vitoria which he shares with wife Maria and their two children.

Before moving away, John and his brothers Colin and Tom, were members of Wallacestone Pipe Band. Their father, also Tom – a retired local police officer – said the “whole family are immensely proud of what John has achieved”.

Back home John also worked six months on the Falkirk Tryst course. While in America tutoring piping and working on the greens he befriended US Open winner Payne Stewart, playing the pipes at his memorial service and also at the funeral of Seve Ballesteros.

Piping continues to be a passion and John added: “Just after the game with Real Madrid on Saturday I had to dash away and play at a whisky tasting. It was quite a contrast.”

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Rugby club’s open invite to vandals

Rugby club’s open invite to vandals: A rugby club has condemned the actions of vandals who drove on their pitch and left tyre marks strewn across the muddy playing surface.

But Phil Prangnell, facilities manager at Dereham Rugby Club, has urged those responsible to curb their ‘boredom’ by joining the team and trying their hand at the sport.

Rugby club's open invite to vandals

Mr Prangell first discovered the damage when he arrived at the club on Tuesday morning and immediately spotted tyre marks across the pitch.

It means the club – based off Moorgate Road in Toftwood – faces a race against the time to get the pitch back up to match standard ahead of their next home fixture.

“When you pull up at the club you cannot miss it,” he said.

“In the summer timer we tend to get kids on scooters and a few in cars on the pitch, but it doesn’t do a great deal of damage. Obviously at this time of year it’s a different story.

“We’ve now got to try and repair the pitch for the next match and just hope it grows again where the tyre marks are.

“Along with people who don’t bother clearing up their dog mess, this is a real frustration.

“Why would you want to mess things up for other people? I’m sure there are plenty of other places around here where they can go off-roading.”

Despite the inconvenience of having to rectify the damage, Mr Prangnell believes there could ultimately be a positive outcome.

He has invited the vandals to join the club and better use their time by playing rugby – instead of going out of their way to destroy the club’s property.

“If they are that bored they should come along to the rugby club and get involved,” added Mr Prangnell, who has been supporting the club for several years. “You never know – they might enjoy themselves.

“We’re a friendly club and players of all abilities are welcome. If you’ve never played before, we’ll you up to standard.”

Dereham Rugby Club trains from 7pm to 9pm on Wednesday evenings. Matches are played on Saturdays.

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Green speed more than a number

Green speed more than a number: At The Open this year the green speeds measured at 10’1”, 10’2”, 10’3” and, with the threat of rain on the horizon, were slowed to 9’11” for the final day, with all 18 greens stimping within just 4 inches of each other. With that in mind, Golf Magic teamed up with BIGGA to learn more about green speeds…

BIGGA remains obsessed with the speed of our greens, with the implication for the golfer being that faster greens are saved for special occasions, such as club championships. As such, if you’re able to achieve those high speeds in everyday life, then yours must be a high-quality course, right?

Green speed more than a number

But how important are green speeds? Do they matter?

One of the most important innovations in golf course preparation since the 1970s was the stimpmeter. A stimpmeter is a simple device consisting of a long, narrow metal tray that enables greenkeepers to consistently replicate the roll of a ball across a green. It was introduced by the agronomy department of the USGA and is commonly quoted as an effective means of measuring speeds – you may have heard commentators at events discussing how fast the greens were “stimping” at.

However, measuring speed isn’t actually the stimpmeter’s true purpose. Tellingly, the device’s instruction manual reads: “the variations in speed, whether from one green to the next or on different parts of the same green, can do more to negate a player’s skill than ragged fairways or unkempt bunkers”.

That’s the leading authority for golf in the United States saying that consistent greens are more important than fairways, bunkers and even ‘fast’ greens. In fact, the pursuit of faster speeds by lower cutting heights often leads to the detriment of the putting surface, reducing consistency and “negating a players’ skill”.

The enjoyment of the average golfer also reduces as green speeds increase as nobody wants to keep three or four putting as their ball skids past the hole. In terms of pace of play, as little as a one-foot increase in speed can slow the pace of play by more than seven minutes per foursome.

If speed isn’t important, and consistency is, then what’s a ‘good’ standard of consistency across a golf course?

Well, like most things, that depends on the resources available to the greenkeeping team.

Dr Micah Woods is chief scientist at the Asian Turfgrass Center and he has undertaken a study to discover what the average differentiation is across golf courses. Taking 961 measurements at clubs in East Asia and America, he brought together a database of stimpmeter readings. He made three measurements on at least three different greens to come up with a ‘standard deviation’ of golf speed across each course.

Dr Woods said: “The ideal would be a standard deviation of zero, but that is only going to happen by accident because green speed will always vary, even slightly. But I wanted to find out what difference in speed was reasonable to expect? I discovered that 0.3 was the average, meaning that half of the data I gathered was below 0.3 and half was above it.”

He came up with a magic number of 0.3 feet or 3.6 inches. This means that if a greenkeeper reports a speed of 9 feet, the average speed on the course will actually be between 8.7 feet and 9.3 feet. And that’s just an average number for all 18 holes, so the actual spread will be wider than that.

And half of the golf courses Dr Woods measured had a standard deviation of more than 3.6 inches, with one measuring up to 1.5 feet. Consistency, it seems, takes incredible skill to achieve.

At the Ryder Cup in 2016 at Hazeltine, the green speeds for the three days of play were 12.4, 12.4 and 13.4. These are extreme tournament conditions at an American golf course prepared for one of the most televised sporting events in the world and as such there are an army of greenkeepers and volunteers working to get the course to incredibly high standards.

And yet as the green speed increased, Dr Woods discovered that the variability of speed across the greens also increased and the putting surfaces became less consistent. On the final day, with a reported speed of 13.4 feet, one green was even recorded as having an actual speed of 15 feet. That’s a difference of more than 19 inches!

So faster greens are also less consistent greens.

It was a trend that is echoed across every golf course, no matter the budget or resource. For consistency to be achieved, it’s Dr Woods’ opinion – and an opinion shared by the turf management industry – that we should stop obsessing with green speeds.

Rather than making a demand of your greenkeeper that you’d like to see greens ‘stimping’ at a certain amount ahead of the club championship, wouldn’t you rather see them concentrate on achieving greater consistency across the course?

“In visiting hundreds of golf courses, I’ve observed that green speeds are always given as a single number and I’m actually not going to advocate that we change that,” explained Dr Woods. “For the members and the guests who are coming to play a facility, it’s useful just to report a single number, that’s all they need to know.

“But I believe that turf managers should secretly keep the additional information to themselves. By making an explicit measurement of variability across their greens, they can identify problems and opportunities to improve that uniformity.”

If we’re to look at golfer enjoyment, what level of consistency can players actually perceive out on the course? A study by American professors Thomas Nikolai, Douglas Karcher and Ron Calhoun in 2001 concluded that the average golfer is unable to detect a six-inch variation in speed from one green to another and therefore that is “probably a fair definition of consistency on a golf course”. Anything less than six inches and your regular amateur golfer won’t be able to perceive the difference.

So which was the most important measurement at The Open? Was it the slower speed on the final day? In truth, the most important figure quoted is the 4” differentiation as it highlights an incredible degree of consistency. Across 18 holes on a links venue in changeable weather conditions, the greenkeeping team was able to achieve a margin of error of just four inches.

The greenkeepers at your course almost certainly won’t be able to achieve that level of consistency, and it’s unreasonable to even ask them to strive towards such levels. But the important thing to know is that they’ll have more chance of achieving consistency – and you’ll enjoy your round more – if unrealistic demands for ‘faster greens’ aren’t made.

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Golf greens destroyed with clubs

Golf greens destroyed with clubs: A golf club is counting the cost of a ‘disheartening and stressful’ vandal attack.

Seven out of the 18 greens at Oldham Golf Club were hacked at with a golf club or clubs.

Golf greens destroyed with clubs

Photographs posted by the club on social media show one green with dozens and dozens of divots in the surface after what they described as ‘sustained and mindless vandalism’.

The club’s greenkeeper spoke of his upset and described some of the damage caused as ‘irreparable’.

Nick Lawrence said: “I could have sat down and cried.”

Founded in 1892, the moorland course on Lees New Road in Oldham is noted for its views of the surrounding area at the foot of the Pennines.

Mr Lawrence said he arrived at the club to discover the damage on Saturday morning.

He said he believed the attack took place on Friday night and a golf club or clubs were used.

The cost to repair the damage is unclear at the moment, Mr Lawrence said.

He described it as ‘mostly just time and labour’, but said some of the damage caused would not be able to be repaired.

“It was just a mess,” he said.

“I’ve spent the past three days fixing it.”

Mr Lawrence and Derek Saunders oversee the management of the club.

“There’s just the two of us that work here,” Mr Lawrence said.

“I arrived on Saturday morning to find the damage and have looked through the CCTV. The course suffered damage to seven of its 18 greens.”

He described the attack as ‘disheartening and stressful’ and added: “There’s always kids playing football on the first green.

“The course isn’t meant for that.

“Kids come along with studded trainers and damage the grass.

“Grass re-growth in the winter months will be the biggest issue in restoring the golf course to its previous condition

“The seeds won’t grow at low temperatures.

“It needs to be around 10 to 12 degrees for them to grow. It won’t be the same again until at least March or April next year.”

Mr Lawrence said the club hasn’t contacted police about the incident.

Instead, the club has taken to social media to raise awareness and appeal to anyone with information to come forward.

“We need your help to find the offenders and bring them to justice,” said a statement on the club’s Facebook page.

“Our greens have been subjected to sustained and mindless vandalism overnight – seven greens severely hacked with golf clubs.

“Extremely upsetting for our greenkeeper, members and visitors.

“Who would do this?

“What is the point of it?

“This is criminal damage. We need your help to find the offenders and bring them to justice.

“Have you heard anyone bragging about it?

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Club receives donations after vandalism

Club receives donations after vandalism: A thriving Suffolk football club has received two kind-hearted gestures after vandals damaged two pitches and forced youth games to be postponed.

Volunteers at Stowupland Falcons FC were dismayed after quad bike vandals left tyre tracks on the field overnight on Saturday, November 2, causing the cancellation of Sunday youth fixtures.

Club receives donations after vandalism

But after hearing of the club’s plight in this newspaper, Malcolm Birt, from Ipswich, came forward to donate a roller to the club to help with repairs as well as a cheque for £50.

The club also received a £100 donation towards pitch repairs from neighbouring club Mendlesham FC.

In an email, Mendlesham chairman Tim Mack said he was “appalled” by the vandalism.

He said: “It is difficult enough keeping a football club funded and volunteer rich without having to deal with such mindless vandalism.”

Pete Mayhew, Stowupland Falcons chairman, said: “It was a really nice thing for Malcolm to do.

“It came out of the blue and he phoned up and said he wanted to help.

“He said he’d been involved with local football in his younger days and that the roller was more use to us than it was to him.

“He also donated £50 towards repairs which was really kind.”

Mr Mayhew added that the donation from Mendlesham FC showed that grass roots football “had come together”.

“There can be a little bit of rivalry between clubs,” he said. “But it’s nice to know that when it comes to the crunch, they wanted to help out a fellow football club.

“Ultimately, we are all trying to do the same thing and bring football to the people.

“Everyone talks about money in football, but let me tell you, there isn’t much at the grass roots level.

“£100 is a lot of money to Mendlesham and it’s such a kind thing for them to do.

“I think it shows that people do come together.”

Mr Mayhew said that due to the extensive rain in the past week, the club has so far been unable to work on the pitches.

“The games were called off due to the weather this weekend and so we haven’t been able to roll it yet.

“We are hoping to get on there at some stage on Sunday and get them ready for next weekend,” he added.

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Plea for help after vandal attack

Plea for help after vandal attack: Volunteers from a city football club have appealed for help after vandals struck.

As reported by the Evening Express on Friday, officials at Kincorth AFC were left shocked after intruders damaged their pitch at Kincorth Field.

Plea for help after vandal attack

Vandals got onto the land and covered it in tyre tracks and burnt-out debris.

Some of the damage has been cleaned up but a scorch mark remains almost a week on.

Now the club’s chairman, Kris Harris, is urging anyone with the expertise to help restore the pitch to its former glory to get in touch.

Mr Harris said: “We need some help please. As you know the pitch was vandalised last week and there is a scorch mark on the edge of the box.

“Our co-manager Andrew Ewan is really not happy about it and we need to get someone professional to have a look.

“We would be grateful if you can point us in the right direction.

“What we’re hoping to do is cut this scorch mark out and replace it with a part from behind the goals, but again this is something we need advice on.”

The club is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year and it is one of the most successful teams in the history of the Aberdeen Amateur Football Association.

Mr Harris added: “The culprits of this damage have little awareness of the wider impact this has on the community.”

Contact the club via facebook.com/kincorthafc/ if you can help.

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Swindon boss praises groundsman

Swindon boss praises groundsman: Richie Wellens revealed the work of groundsman Marcus Cassidy and his army of matchday volunteers played a big part in his decision to accept the Swindon Town manager’s role little under a year ago.

Last week, Town scooped the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) Professional Football Grounds Team of the Year accolade at an awards ceremony hosted at the Vox Conference Centre in Birmingham.

Swindon boss praises groundsman

It’s the third time that Cassidy and his volunteers have been recognised for their efforts at a major awards ceremony in three years.

Last season, Town won the EFL’s League Two Grounds Team of the Year award. And the season before, Cassidy scooped the highly commended award.

With next Wednesday marking a year since Wellens was confirmed as Phil Brown’s successor at the Energy Check County Ground, Wellens took the opportunity to applaud the efforts of Stonehouse-based Cassidy – who is midway through his 19th season at the club.

Wellens said: “It’s great Marcus is winning these awards – it’s a big part of why I came here.

“A lot of pitches at this level are small – 12 or 15 yards shorter than ours and a lot narrower.

“For me, it’s difficult to play good football on those pitches and that’s why teams score a lot of goals from set plays and long throws.

“Everyone knows how good Marcus is. It’s probably better because he never lets us train on it. I half let him off with that.”

Town’s ground staff were tested during last Saturday’s home game against Walsall when heavy rain at the conclusion of half-time saw underfoot conditions deteriorate.

Puddles gathered, although Town weathered the literal storm to record a 2-1 win.

The pitch will now be rested for more than two weeks with no game scheduled until Mansfield Town visit in League Two on November 23 – although that could change if this weekend’s FA Cup first-round clash at Cheltenham Town is drawn.

Despite the praise, Wellens made no secret of his desire to train more frequently at the County Ground to boost players’ home awareness.

He said: “It will get loads of rest. Next time we turn up here, I expect the grass to be cut the exact length and expect it to look pristine because no one is allowed on it for two weeks.

“And it should be that way. Marcus is a groundsman is paid to keep the grass looking brilliant – and he’s doing a great job.

“The pitch was difficult last Saturday. When you sit in the stands, it looks green and flat.

“But when you walk on it at the end, there were a lot of puddles – mainly because of the sheer amount of rain.”

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Greenkeepers reveal greatest annoyances

Greenkeepers reveal greatest annoyances: Golfers and greenkeepers. One can’t survive without the other and occasionally, things get a little heated out on the course.

What’s the solution? Here at GolfMagic, we’ve teamed up with the British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) to hear things from the greenkeepers’ perspective.

Greenkeepers reveal greatest annoyances

Chris Sealey, course manager, Chippenham Golf Club, Wiltshire

“I hate to say it, but golfers ask the funniest questions. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget just how little golfers realise goes into the maintenance of the course. For example, when the members ask why we hollow tine, we tell them it’s to let the worms out! And they sometimes believe us!

“But sometimes, those things they don’t understand can cause problems for greenkeepers. For example, when the course is closed due to flooding, we get told ‘I live five miles away and my garden is dry!’

“That then becomes a problem if they leave negative feedback about the course, when there could be nothing the greenkeeping team could have done to prevent the flooding, because we’re in a valley next to a river and they live up on a hilltop!

“I think golfers should give greenkeepers the benefit of the doubt more often and if the course isn’t in pristine condition, ask them the reason why, rather than jumping to conclusions.”

Andy Barber, course manager, Royal Winchester Golf Club, Hampshire

“I’ve been in this industry for a while now and I’ve really noticed the lack of etiquette among modern golfers. Sadly, it seems to be getting worse.

“By etiquette, I mean things such as golfers hitting balls at you – which is really dangerous – or things such as not repairing pitchmarks or divots, which is the age-old problem. It’s sad to say, but since we’ve opened up our golf courses to everyone and increased the number of visitors playing, etiquette seems to have deteriorated.

“The opinion seems to be, ‘I pay my money, I do what I like’ and how do you answer that? The sad thing is you can’t and you just have to walk away. Sadly, we’re losing a lot of good people from the industry because they’re tired of the lack of respect that golfers are showing to the course and to the greenkeepers.”

Sam Bethell, course manager, Chipstead Golf Club, Surrey

“My biggest bugbear is the lack of patience among golfers. I know it must be annoying when you’ve gone out to play golf and the greenkeepers are in the way again.

“But ask yourself, why are they there? Is it their last area to cut and they’ll then get out of your way? Have they even seen you? In most cases, there’s a reason they’re there.

“But either way, just wait a minute. Make sure they’ve seen you and that they’re safely out of the way before you play – you wouldn’t hit a ball if it was another golf stood in front of you.

“Don’t just send a shot up to give them a warning as you’d be amazed at the damage being hit by a golf ball can do to a person’s head or body and to the golfer’s bank account.”

Adam Matthews, course manager, Moor Allerton Golf Club, West Yorkshire

“As you can imagine, there are quite a few of the usual annoyances, ranging from not raking bunkers or repairing pitchmarks, to ignoring traffic management and information signage.

“But for me, my biggest bugbear with some golfers is the ignorance towards weather and ground conditions and then the comments that follow.

“We’ll have golfers turn up on a weekend and seem to forget that the rain that fell all week didn’t just land on their homes, but it also landed on the course!

“A golf course isn’t an artificial surface – it’s fine turf, growing on soil – and so it’s affected by the weather, which includes getting muddy sometimes, or brown and dry if there’s a drought.

“We’ll always do what we can to improve drainage and keep playing conditions as good as we are able, but there’s always going to be some impact from the weather.”

Billey Merritt, head greenkeeper, Beacon Park Golf Club, Lancashire“A golfer once asked about the number of moles on the course and we told him it was because they were laying so many mole eggs, and he believed us!

“But in seriousness, my biggest gripe is the lack of patience that golfers have, when we are trying to make the course better for them in the long run.

“Sometimes it’s necessary to do something that will disrupt the course in the short term, but in the long run your greenkeepers are working for the good of the course and the changes will be for the benefit of everyone.”

Lucy Sellick, course manager, Wenvoe Castle Golf Club, South Wales

“For me, there are a couple of things that golfers do, but that can easily be solved with a little understanding. One is that golfers seem to think we do things for no reason or, worse, just to annoy them!

“For example, we can’t cut our fairways immediately after a herbicide application, so the grass is slightly longer, but the golfers think we’re all taking a break!

“That brings me on to the next point, which is that golfers don’t seem to be able to read. I’ve had times where we’ve closed a hole because we’re felling large trees and it’s potentially dangerous.

“There could be a sign on the tee, a sign in the middle of the fairway and ropes directing them where to head and yet I have still found myself waving down a golfer who was about to play a shot over a Land Rover, tractor and trailer and us all, wearing bright orange personal protection equipment!

“The different standards we must deal with are frustrating. The finance committee will look at our budget and ask if the greenkeepers really needed £200 wet weather gear. They’ll have no reservations about spending £300 on their own gear, which they use for four hours, once a week, yet they expect greenkeepers to be out in all weather, in unsuitable working gear.

“That’s not great if we want to keep talent in the industry, rather than leaving to go to a profession where they’re more respected.”

Antony Kirwan, course manager, Romford Golf Club, Essex

“Although the members at my club seem to be really understanding, in general there’s a lack of awareness among golfers about what it takes to prepare their course.

“There are some members who take the time to read the literature or ask you questions, but there are also many who will say things that aren’t constructive, like ‘my garden looks a lot better than the course at the moment!’ or ‘why is he putting holes in the greens, when they’re playing well?’

“I think we can all relate to the member who is an electrician, plumber, lawyer, accountant or PGA professional, who doesn’t consider that their course manager will have gone through as extensive training as they did, in order to get to that position. I certainly wouldn’t be telling them how to do their job and yet golfers don’t give greenkeepers that same courtesy.

“As someone who spends a lot of time out on the course, it’s also true that etiquette is, at times, shocking. We see images on social media everyday of bunkers not being raked, pitchmarks not being repaired, divots taken out of the green and the near misses that greenkeepers endure every day, because a golfer can’t wait to hit his shot.

“I’m not point the finger at every golfer, as there are many that understand. But the small percentage really do make our job hard at times.”

James Braithwaite, course manager, Long Ashton Golf Club, Bristol

“Sadly, there’s a lack of respect for the role we’re in, with many not even recognising it as a profession. I gave a lecture recently, speaking to golf club managers, and we went around the room and asked what a greenkeeper did.

“So many people just answered ‘they cut the grass’ and were amazed when I reeled off the list of actual duties that greenkeepers do. We’re politicians, agronomists, scientists, magicians, spray technicians, tree surgeons and the list goes on and on. We set budgets, deliver presentations, fight turf diseases and unfortunately that’s not recognised in the industry.

“As a golf club, your biggest asset is the course and the greenkeepers are responsible for looking after it. Yet they’re not given the same status as the club manager or the professional. Greenkeepers will speak to their members and there’ll be someone who may be a dentist, a doctor or an electrician, telling the greenkeeper how he should be maintaining the course, which is mind-blowing.

“I’d like to say that the solution is making golfers more aware of what greenkeepers do to maintain the course, but the golfer has to want to learn and that’s not always the case.”

Colin Hopper, head greenkeeper, Elsham Golf Club, Lincolnshire

“The most annoying – and potentially dangerous – thing about golfers has to be etiquette with regards to having golf balls hit towards the greenstaff.

“Although these are quite isolated incidents, there are still occasions where there seems to be no regards for our safety. Working with the club, safety measures have been put in place by means of signage, wearing high visibility jackets and vests.

“We’ve also had meetings with the individuals involved and posted comments on the information newsletters that are sent out to the members.

“I guess we have all heard the excuses before, such as ‘I didn’t see you {(while you were sat on your mower, 150 yards down the fairway)’, ‘I didn’t think I could hit it that far’, ‘I thought you waved me up’ or ‘I thought you had moved out the way’.

“I recently had one golf ball landed about 10ft from my mower after hitting the top of the tree just behind me, which was about 50ft tall. His excuse was ‘I knew it wasn’t going to reach you’!

“We haven’t had any greenkeepers hit for a good number of years here at Elsham, but there have been a few near misses. I guess the only way to stop any greenkeeper being hit is to be more severe with any punishments or start working nights!

“It would be great to hear from other golf courses about this issue and how they deal with it.”

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New 3G Pitch Vandalised

New 3G Pitch Vandalised: A new 3G pitch for Lanarkshire schoolkids has been wrecked by vandals.

The ground in Calderbank has been left unplayable and scorched in several places.

New 3G Pitch Vandalised

One furious local said: “our lovely new sports facility, well used by the community..ruined, and it’s only the 4th of November.”

It’s part of a 25 thousand facilty for local schoolchildren that was only opened last year by North Lanarkshire Council following a programme of fundraising.

Council leader Jim Logue carried out the official opening of the park – for which the budget included funding from the local development programme which is overseen by Airdrie and Villages local area partnership.

It transformed ground which had lain unused for years into a new pitch and running track.

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