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Embracing new technology

Embracing new technology: One silver lining among the heartache of the pandemic is an acceleration in the adoption of new – and better – ways of working…

Craig Earnshaw, Course Manager at Harleyford GC, in Buckinghamshire, is a man on a mission and has been fast to embrace the modern approach to managing, communicating and training that today’s advancing technology can offer.

Embracing new technology

Embracing new technology

Communicating daily tasks to the team was always a fundamental activity practised by Craig, but he felt that this could not only be improved but made more relevant in the digital age where everyone has a mobile phone and many have tablets.

Craig’s aim was never to replace the daily verbal brief, however, when looking at digital software systems and what they can offer, the digital whiteboard aspect and the power of reporting and communicating remotely was an area of significant interest.

Having looked at various options, Craig decided TurfKeeper offered exactly what he was looking for and saw that the system offered a major leap forward in complementing what he was doing on a verbal, face-to-face or messaging on a whiteboard basis.

On a more personal note, Craig explained that the system has helped his communication as he is dyslexic and no longer had to rely on his deputy to write up his instructions on the white board.

“This harnessing of digital technology benefits me as a manager, my team and therefore ultimately the club.”

To start with, a large screen TV was installed in the clubs new maintenance facility and with the use of the digital whiteboard feature the day’s preplan activity can be done online and displayed. This is then is keyed into the system and displayed on the TV so the whole team can see what has been assigned; any key notes, machinery and stock to be used is also displayed as well as the weather forecast and such important direction of cut details for any area are to mowed.

A key to success of this system has been the staff ‘buy in’ and them seeing the benefits beyond the traditional whiteboard and pen,” said Craig.

“It also offers the ability to view the tasks out on the course via the phone and this has not just increased efficiency and productivity, but has been a real game changer during the Covid-19 crisis,” he added.

“Using the TurfKeeper system, we have been able to plan and communicate from a far. The team can log onto the system and know what task or activity is required even before they arrive at work, in some cases even before they leave home!”

Avoiding close contact during this pandemic is a must and by utilising modern technology such as this, the team has been able to work around it.

“If I am out on the course and forget to add anything or maybe a new task has cropped up, the web-based TurfKeeper technology allows the inputting of a task via the phone and have it appear on everyone else’s, including also the jobs board.”

Embracing new technology

Embracing new technology

The TurfKeeper ethos is directed towards the modern, digital, web-based way of planning, recording and communicating. There is nothing wrong with a paper diary and handwriting, but when you need quick fire information to fan out the flames, the digital approach delivers with speed and ease.

Take for example the preCovid-19 situation. Seven staff members working 40 hours per week at a total of 280 hours.

In a usual year, bunkers need daily raking, greens rolled 2-3 times per week, empting bins, ball washer and moving tee blocks prior to cutting and all that jazz,” said Craig.

“And oh yes… of course… working around the golf! When all the aforementioned is factored in, this takes a huge amount of time, and hence the good reason why we need all the staff.

“Now cue Furlough… no need to cut daily, certainly minimal to zero rolling or bunker raking. No course furniture to move or service in the way of bins and ball washers, and oh yes… no golfers. Never have courses been easier to maintain in terms of bare minimum and cutting. No golf to work around, so less waiting time and the result… cutting the time in half it usually takes to mow most of the areas.

Cue now to the inquisitions… do we need that many staff members? Course looks good to me and there is only three of you. what did you do with all those labour hours before?

“These are not unreasonable question to be fair. We are lucky in the fact that staff numbers have not been brought into question. I did get asked how come we can get everything cut with only three staff but it was a light hearted comment. Nonetheless, that is where the advent of modern technology plays it part. Unlike a traditional paper diary, I can just enter a date range, click a button and the data instantly; all the labour hours, costs, effort, stock used etc. Looking through the reports, I can balance off last year v this year and communicate to the board exactly where all of the hours go, as the reports detail every last task. It’s very clear to see how long bunkers took this year v last year or even identify work that hasn’t needed to be done. It really helps to hammer home the facts,” he explained.

“So, to sum it all up, it’s quite simple for me. I rely heavily on irrigation software system, digital moisture meters and various other technological tools to monitor surface performance, so why not also other aspect of the job?

“TurfKeeper allows me to extend the technological side of management and communication but in addition, the planning, budgeting, stock control, machinery maintenance and reporting. Such a system is a valuable asset and working example of the technology we should all be embracing in the modern age in which we now operate.”

The greenkeeping team at Harleyford Golf Club in Buckinghamshire won the 2019 BIGGA Championship Greenkeeping Performance of the Year award for its work in preparing the course for The Matchroom Sport Championship.

TurfKeeper is a web-based management system that provides turf industry professionals a fully integrated operations and management solution. Designed by turf industry professionals, the system, in a completely personalised, single environment, provides complete control over and insight into staff management, task planning, machinery management, inventory control, chemical applications planning and recording, and budgeting and expense management.

With detailed reporting on all areas readily available, and a resource library provision, the system becomes the home of all turf management planning, actions, and facility history.