Deputy Head Greenkeeper

Horsley Lodge Golf Club is an 18-hole golf course with USGA spec greens situated on the outskirts of Derby and one of the leading golf courses in the East Midlands since 1990.

Deputy Head Greenkeeper

Horsley Lodge Golf Club and Hotel is a family run business, which is committed to ensuring it provides the highest quality to both members and visitors all year round.

Applications are invited with the following minimum attributes:

  • Highly driven & ambitious
  • Minimum NVQ level 3 or equivalent
  • PA1,2,6a spraying certificates
  • USGA greens experience would be an advantage
  • Experience of organising & planning day to day work rotas
  • Have a critical eye for detail & for both presentation and playability
  • Good understanding of disease management
  • Experience of irrigation & water management
  • Chainsaw CS32/33 certificate would be an advantage

This is an exciting opportunity for a passionate, motivated individual looking to work at a fantastic facility with a great team.

Please send a covering letter, CV and salary expectations to:

Simon Hardman
Head Greenkeeper
Horsley Lodge golf club
Smalley Mill Road
DE21 5BL


Closing date:
24th December 2019

Greenkeeper Injured In Holiday Accident

Greenkeeper Injured In Holiday Accident: A British holidaymaker could be paralysed for life after breaking his neck in an accident at a Spanish water park, his family fear.

David Briffaut, 23, lost consciousness and suffered serious injuries after hitting the water in a pool at the bottom of a slide at the Aqualandia tourist attraction in Benidorm.

Greenkeeper Injured In Holiday Accident

He is on a life support machine in a Spanish hospital. His family fear he will be left paraplegic after scans showed he has two broken vertebrae in his neck.

Briffaut’s parents, Lorraine, a teacher, and Stephane, a construction worker, have flown out to bring him home once his condition is sufficiently stable.

His uncle, Mark Pooley, said: “This is every family’s worse nightmare. David is a wonderful young man who was enjoying an innocent day out with his girlfriend.

“We are praying for a miracle, but we have been told that the injuries he has sustained are very traumatic … We are hoping that David’s travel insurance will pay for him to be flown home, but after that he faces a very uncertain future.

“He has undergone surgery and is partly conscious, but in a great deal of pain. We have been told he may need more surgery later this week.”

Briffaut, who works as a green keeper at a golf club in Essex, was on holiday with his girlfriend of six years, Penny Bristow, at the time of the accident on the “Splash” slide. They had been staying with friends and were on holiday to celebrate Bristow completing a degree course in travel and tourism.

The slide is one of 15 rides at the water park and is graded “moderate”.

Pooley said: “We cannot understand how this happened at a family tourist destination. David was behaving in the normal way, and he had not been drinking. We believe there should be a full investigation into the circumstances of what happened.”

A crowdfunding page has been set up to raise £75,000 to help pay for his care when he returns home. By Wednesday morning it had raised more than £30,000.

It says: “What began as a fun day out ended in tragedy when David suffered his horrific injuries coming down a waterslide … We want to do everything within our capabilities to raise as much money as possible to enable David to get the best possible care and better his life in whatever way we can.”

Bristow shared the link on Facebook, writing: “Breaks my heart having to share this but we would truly appreciate everyone’s support in sharing and donating anything they can for David to get the care and support he needs. I love you so much, we will get through this.”

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Greenkeeper Support Team Revealed

Greenkeeper Support Team Revealed: The Director of Golf and Greenkeeping at Wentworth Club has spoken about his pride at the return of a greenkeeper support team to assist with course maintenance during the BMW PGA Championship this September.

Members of the British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) will head to Wentworth for the European Tour’s flagship event, which for the 2019 season has shifted from its traditional May hosting to September.

Greenkeeper Support Team Revealed

The shift in dates has been necessitated by changes to the world golf calendar and reduced competition from other events should mean a star-studded field of players head to Virginia Water for the Rolex Tour event, taking place from 19 to 22 September.

Wentworth’s Director of Golf Courses and Greenkeeping, Kenny Mackay, is eager for the BIGGA volunteers to get the most out of their time as part of the team and so the group is divided between those who will undertake bunker raking duties and those who will play an active role in the preparation and maintenance of the West Course for the duration of the event.

Kenny said: “With the change in the schedule, the hosting of the BMW PGA Championship is going to be a completely new experience for the Wentworth team. The preparation of the course each morning is going to be very tight if we’re to stay ahead of the golf and so the BIGGA volunteers will prove vital as we work to achieve our aims of preparing a course fit for the European Tour’s flagship event.”

“Over the last two years we’ve really evolved the support team experience, so a portion of the volunteers have the opportunity to fully integrate with the Wentworth team. If you ask the volunteers who come regularly, every year is getting better and better. We want to ensure they learn many things that they can then take back to their own club.”

BIGGA members are invited to participate in the BMW PGA Championship Volunteer Support Team as an opportunity for career development that is provided as part of their membership. July will also see a separate team of members head to Royal Portrush to assist with The Open, while teams will also attend other major events, such as the Ladies British Open and the Solheim Cup.

To hear more from Kenny Mackay about the changes to the European Tour schedule and what it means to the Wentworth team, listen to episode 8 of the Green Room Golf Course Podcast, available on Apple Podcasts and via the BIGGA website.

The BIGGA Support Team for the BMW PGA Championship 2019 is:

Preparation support team

Adam Baldwin, Lilley Brook; Anthony Duffield, Ham Manor; Craig Woodman, Bramshaw; Daniel Evans, Maesdu Llandudno; David Ball, Thetford; Josh Dunn, Bramcote Waters; Kevin Tigg, Merrist Wood; Leigh Powell, Windlesham; Phillip Slater, West Herts; Rob Patrick, Stoneham; Sam Ewing, Crane Valley; Jonny Peacock, Rugby; David Taylor, The Bristol; Peter Meek, The Wisley; Seamus Gaughan, Migros Golf Park (Switzerland); Tim Leat, Rich River (Australia); Luke Lacey, Exminster; Callum Atkinson, Prestbury; Harry Misselbrook, Harewood Downs; Henry Aggar, Windlesham.

Bunker support team

Jeff Drake, Newbury & Crookham; Oliver Kirk, unattached; Sam Amey, Basingstoke; Nathan O’Sullivan, China Fleet; Kevin Weller, Dale Hill Hotel; Iain Biggs, Chesterfield Downs; Oli Norfolk, Tylney Park; David Westwood, Kingswood; Jamie Ingerson, Rochester and Cobham; Nick Street, Crews Hill; Billy MacArthur, Temple; Craig Gibson, Essendon Country; Steven Maples, Coventry; Oliver Clark, Mill Hill; Matthew Winney, East Sussex National; Jacob Kennard, Milton Abbey School; Aaron Stead, Surrey Down; Ashley Darnley, The Bristol; Charlie Cripps, Cams Hall Estate; Sam Bethell, Chipstead; Steve Bridgeman, Woking; Steven Hirons, Kirtlington; Tony Bartram, Wentworth; Stuart Simmonds, Boundary Lakes; Robert Brown, Bognor Regis; Adam Young, The Players Club; Daniel Allsworth, Drayton Park; Nicholas Edwards, Remedy Oak; Stevie-Jon Hood, Forest of Galtres; Lewis Turner, The Dyke; Ryan Lindsay, East Sussex National; Matthew Lindsay, Highwoods; Chris Mitchell, Maidenhead; Ryan Frankish, Spalding; David Smith, Newmarket Links; Gary Nimmo, Oundle; Jordan Belong, Camberley Heath; Patrick Redmond, Woking; Stuart Fry, Old Thorns; Jakob Schur, Rudding Park; Jorge Manso, Coombe Wood; Daniel Cowley, Stanmore; Lee Williams, Phoenix; Martin Coe, China Fleet; Kevin Hensman, Rowlands Castle; Steven Morgans, Harrow School; Jack Holman, Middleton Hall; Graham Down, Harewood Downs;

James Lomas, Hadley.

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Greenkeeper Death An Accident

Greenkeeper Death An Accident: A 35-year-old greenkeeper died last January after a poplar tree he was cutting fell on his head and fractured his skull, an inquest has heard.

His girlfriend and her father later found his body.

Greenkeeper Death An Accident

Father-of-one Martin Davenport, probably died instantly when the tree hit him in Christleton, Cheshire.

A jury inquest at Warrington Coroner’s Court has been told that Davenport suffered a fractured skull and brain haemorrhage.

A jury inquest is required by law if a death occurs following an accident at work.

Davenport worked as a greenkeeper at Eaton Golf Club but was acting as a self-employed contractor when he was hired to cut down poplar trees.

Health and Safety Executive inspector Simon Bland said the tree involved was leaning, causing it to act like a ‘spring’ with compression on one side and tension on the side nearest Davenport.

The trunk then split and kicked out.

Bland said: “Unfortunately Martin was in the vicinity of where that tree kicked out at the base so he received a blow to the head.”

Bland said he was happy with the tree felling training Davenport had received through his golf club job and the equipment he was using.

Eaton Golf Club head greenkeeper Gavin Clarke described him as “a great worker” with “a really good skill set”.

The jury found Davenport suffered a fatal blow to the head because the tree fell and split in ‘an uncontrolled manner’.

With the direction of Cheshire area coroner Claire Welch, they concluded Davenport died from an accident.

Welch told the family: “I offer you my heartfelt condolences. It’s clear to me from the evidence that I heard during the course of the inquest today how loved and liked Martin was, seemingly by all those who knew him.”

Davenport is survived by his parents Kathy and Shane, sister Sian and his nine-year-old daughter Isabelle.

He had remained friends with her mother Laura, from whom he was separated.

Kathy Davenport, who gave evidence, said: “He was a busy, hard-working young man who adored his little girl and was always trying to support her as best he could.”

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From Homeless To Award-Winning Greenkeeper

From Homeless To Award-Winning Greenkeeper: Jack Percival spent six months on the streets. When greenkeeping provided a lifeline, he never forgot what he had been through.

Of all the things Jack Percival no longer takes for granted – and it’s quite a list – there is one that stands out, that’s hardwired into his brain like a bad memory. Warmth.

From Homeless To Award-Winning Greenkeeper

The thought of its loss makes him shudder, conjuring flickers of frozen nights spent lodged into the crevice of a fire escape in a Tesco car park.

Sometimes he could call on a friend and get something to eat, or to find a couple of hours to sleep or wash his clothes.

But whether he got a bed for the night or had to huddle on the frigid tarmac could depend on the knock of a door.

The hum of the greens mower reminds him his situation is now a world away from what it once was.

Sometimes he might ask himself why he’s out on the golf course at all hours – carrying out a bit of watering – or reading up on a new product at home.

He’s spent the last 18 months as the deputy course manager at Chipstead and the 24-year-old loves it. It’s a way of life he could not have countenanced when he was homeless.

“I always say that it isn’t just a job, it’s a passion,” he says. “It’s not just 9 to 5 and it’s definitely a job where you need that passion.

“To drive round and see the course in good condition makes you smile because you know you are doing something well. It’s job satisfaction.”

But if he stands and catches a breath, Jack might consider how remarkable this turnaround has been – from a life of desperation to one of hope and positivity.

Jack admits he was a difficult teenager. A problem for his mum, he “wasn’t the greatest of kids to be around”. Falling into the proverbial ‘bad crowd’ he found himself on the Croydon streets.

It was a six-month spell of sofa surfing and rough sleeping. His friends helped where they could but it was only so long before he was outstaying his welcome.

They had their own lives, their own worries, their own bills to pay.

“There was a guy I met and he was a local alcoholic,” he says, remembering some of the alternative ways he’d try to get out of the cold.

“He had a house but he was a really bad drinker. He was a nice guy but had just fallen into it.

“I used to stay at his house when I could. He’d drink a lot during the daytime and sometimes he’d just come home, be paralytic drunk, and sleep on the sofa.

“Sometimes I could go there and he’d answer the door and sometimes I’d go and he wouldn’t. By that time it was 10pm and I’d be stuck for choices.”

So his fate would be a fire escape and even that proved no sanctuary. When the shoppers started arriving in earnest, Jack was on the move – wandering the streets and a nearby country park.

He never begged, trusting he’d find enough to keep him going. Even so, the effect on his health was gradually devastating.

“I really struggled. In the end, my skin was covered in psoriasis because I was so stressed, down and upset. I was covered in scabs all over my body. It was a tough time. It was horrible. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.”

Had a family friend not come to his rescue, Jack can’t think about where he might be now. Karen took him in, “gave me a kick up the arse”, and issued a sort-your-life-out warning.

She got him a job, doing groundwork at a cemetery, and he found a spot in a little house share.

Soon after, he met his girlfriend, Tori, and his growing interest in agronomy saw him land a job as a greenkeeper at Purley Downs.

He was 18 and had purpose.

He moved to Addington Palace as a mechanic greenkeeper and served as the head greenkeeper at a 9-hole course in Forest Hill, South London, before taking the job at Chipstead.

Everything turned out rosy for Jack. With a four-year-old son and another baby on the way in May, he’s turned his life around in impressive fashion. It’s a feelgood story for anyone who loves a fairytale.

And yet it doesn’t end there. Because living on the streets left a scar – and the kindness shown to help him back on his feet compelled him to take action.

It started with sandwiches. If he saw a homeless person, Jack would stop and get them something to eat, or something to drink.

Then a couple of years ago, on Christmas Eve, he got on the bus to Croydon laden with sandwiches and bottles of water and gave them out to those he found.

“I just kept it quiet,” he says. “Only my family knew about that. I’d come home and we wouldn’t really speak about it again. It was something that was done.

“I used to call Karen my foster mum. Unfortunately, she died in March last year. She always taught me that no matter what you’ve done everyone deserves a second chance.

“Whether you are a drug addict or an alcoholic, you still deserve to eat food and have clothes on your back.”

So last summer, he started working for Croydon Nightwatch on a Sunday evening and as Christmas approached, and he planned his annual sandwich run, those in the know urged him to try and do something bigger.

Jack erred. He didn’t want to get on social media to ring the bell fearing he’d be branded as hunting for likes and congratulations. This wasn’t about that.

But he also knew if he could get some weight behind the project, and get some helpers on board, he might be able to do something big.

He gave into his fear, and something amazing started happening.

“It ended up going through the roof. I was getting carloads of donations turning up at my door. Suppliers were buying everything I needed.

“In the end I had to put it all in a storage facility. Every couple of days I had to get a van to the house, fill it up with donations, and go and put it into storage because my house was getting too packed.

“I had barbers come forward. The tea and coffee van that I visit in the morning said she would supply all the coffees for free. I had the owner of a pizza shop message me and then a curry shop also came on board.”

The scale of the donations was breathtaking – stacks upon stacks of packs of biscuits, bottles of water, cans of drink, toothbrushes, deodorant, chocolate bars, and more.

From a walk around on a festive evening, Jack now had an event on his hands that required military planning.

Every night for about two months he’d sit on his phone working out logistics, sharing WhatsApp messages with volunteers and organising licences.

But even he couldn’t have imagined the impact his efforts would have.

There is something pernicious about the way our society views the homeless. We avert our gaze in the face of a plea for help. We imagine the worst about those in a desperate plight.

They are there because it’s their fault, we tell ourselves. It’s because they are drug addicts, because they are alcoholics, or because they are feckless.

The milk of human kindness runs sour. Those who are homeless can face the worst of us – and largely expect nothing else.

So when someone does something to break that chain, as Jack did when he galvanised a community to support the Croydon homeless, the response is enough to melt even the hardest of hearts.

“One guy had a haircut and started crying,” he remembers. “There was an old Jamaican guy who came and he was looking for new pair of shoes – he had holes in his.

“We found him this pair of boots and he was dancing on the spot with happiness. We ended up taking him back to his tent and piled him up with sleeping bags and clothes.”

Jack had been struck with last minute jitters. Would anyone turn up? Would it go well? He’d been round the streets telling everyone he could find to come along.

But at first there was only a trickle of people, and then it started to rain. Suddenly there were tables full of produce he thought were going to go to waste.

They were piled high with hygiene bags, snack bags, sleeping bags, hats, hot water bottles, gloves, pants, socks, fruit bars, meal replacement shakes, chocolate, a transit van full of clothes to rummage through. It was everything you might possibly need if you had to get through another frozen night.

His team of volunteers took some of the supplies and wandered through the streets. Then people started arriving in their droves.

“It was basic needs,” Jack says. “We even catered for dogs and gave out little doggie bags and biscuits. One lady just couldn’t believe it. She said, ‘The dog’s going to get fed, I’m going to get fed. It’s unbelievable.’

“People were asking if they could have an extra cup of coffee. They were really hesitant. I said, ‘It’s here, you can help yourself, take as much as you want.’

“It was the face on a young lad that got a haircut – that was the thing that got me. He was quite cocky, he obviously had a small addiction or something like that, and at first he didn’t really want the help.

“I sat him down and said, ‘Come on mate. You can pick anything you want. We can help you out. What about a haircut?’ He said, ‘A haircut, you are joking?’

“But he had one, was sitting there and bonding with the guy cutting his hair and they were having a good chat for half an hour. We were bringing him a cup of coffee and a pizza. In the end, he was ecstatic and loving it.”

Jack looked nervous, and sounded it too. We were inside the massive convention centre at Harrogate and, in a couple of hours, he was up for a big award.

It was a month after his Christmas feed on December 23, but news of what he had done spread quickly.

His team had helped about 75 people in all – feeding and clothing them – and those selfless efforts had earned him a nomination at the annual BIGGA Awards.

Organising and preparing that was one thing, standing up in front of a room of his peers was quite another.

And yet they were the ones to stand for him – in their hundreds as he received an ovation that moved him to tears when hailed for the Outstanding Contribution of the Year.

“When I heard Jack’s story I was absolutely blown away,” explains BIGGA’s chief executive Jim Croxton. “Having heard what he went through during those six months when he lived on the street and seeing how he has worked tirelessly in the years since to not only turn his life around but also provide opportunities for other less fortunate, is quite inspirational.

“I’m delighted that we have been able to recognise Jack’s achievements in this small way. He is an incredible young man and I’m proud to call him a member of the association.”

Jack didn’t know what to say. A week later, with a phone bulging with congratulations from well wishers, he was still at a loss.

“I guess it’s an achievement,” he says. I’ve asked Jack where greenkeeping fits into his past and where his life is now.

“I call this job a ladder and it’s one that everyone is trying to climb. I have been around a bit but when I move on I make sure I leave on good terms and, while I was there, I work my nuts off so it stands out.

“People look back and say, ‘That Jack’s a really good kid. He works really hard.’ It stands out and it goes a long way.”

If everyone didn’t already think that of him, what is coming next would only cement their opinion. Planning for a summer feed is under way.

Tori had shared a Facebook post about his winter campaign and it had received around 3,000 likes.

Most were positive but there was the odd one – there’s always the odd one – who asked the question. ‘What happens for the other 364 days of the year? What are you doing to help them then?’

That could have stung – after all the social trolls were one of Jack’s worries when he debated whether, and how, he could take his idea bigger.

But how large it now becomes is only limited by the scale of his ambition. That’s the ultimate rebuttal to those who lack faith.

“I set a New Year’s resolution this year and it was to give back more, to change someone’s life and to make an impact on someone’s life – even if it is just bringing happiness.

“I feel like I am doing that.”

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Greenkeeper Award Nominations Double

Greenkeeper Award Nominations Double: The number of entries into Toro’s Student Greenkeeper of the Year Award last year increased with over double the amount from employer nominations.

This is a fact attributed to commitment to career learning from golf club employers, course managers and head greenkeepers, says David Cole from award sponsor Reesink Turfcare.

Greenkeeper Award Nominations Double

“These results were hugely pleasing to us. It demonstrates the faith employers have in the abilities of their students. We’re aware that without those who nominate their greenkeepers we wouldn’t find the talent we do, hence why we applaud those who let us know about their bright and shining stars.”

Proving the point in 2018 was course manager Steve Oultram from The Wilmslow Golf Club who nominated Daniel Ashelby winner of the Student Award and course manager Jon McMullen from Lee Park Golf Club who nominated winner Danny Patten for the Young Student Award.

Steve is heading to the Golf Industry Show in San Diego in February as part of his prize for nominating Daniel, while Jon has won a trip to Vidauban Golf Club in the South of France, one of the most exclusive European golf clubs there is, for nominating Danny.

Steve views the all-expenses paid trip to San Diego for nominating Daniel in his bid to win the coveted trophy as a great opportunity to bring home to Wilmslow first-hand knowledge on the latest products and services to benefit the golf industry.

He says: “I’m really excited about my trip to the Golf Industry Show, it’s going to be really beneficial to network with some of the industry’s leading people in golf and learn about what we may expect to see in the UK, and at The Wilmslow Golf Club, in the near future.”

Meanwhile, as only the third winner of the Young Award, Danny Patten has cemented his position as one of the very best young greenkeepers in the country, and Jon is excited to have the chance to visit Danny at Vidauban Golf Club.

He says: “Vidauban is known as one of the finest golf courses in the world and it’s a very exclusive club, so to see it myself, and to hear about Danny’s time there, is something I wouldn’t miss. It’s going to be amazing to experience the course and the way it’s run; it’s an example of excellence, so taking in as much as I can while I’m there is going to be a top priority.”

David Cole, managing director of Reesink Turfcare who was first involved in the awards in 1993, says: “We are very proud of the status the Student Award holds within the industry and the opportunity it has provided for career advancement over the years. The fact that employers are showing they do too by nominating their talented greenkeepers is a promising sign for the future of the industry.

“It’s important to remember that it’s not just the students who benefit from winning, their nominators do also. Not only do they receive an all-expenses paid trip abroad, but we mustn’t forget that the winners’ success is testament to the excellent support they receive from their employers, who we are delighted to be able to recognise.”

Both employers and lecturers can make nominations. Visit to find out how to make a nomination into the 2019 awards.

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Greenkeeper Celebrates 40 Years

Greenkeeper Celebrates 40 Years: A special staff function took place at the Berry Bowling Club on Sunday, to celebrate Rodney (Rod) Armstrong’s 40 years of continuous employment as a greenkeeper at Bomaderry Bowling Club and in more recent years also covering Berry.

Rod started his apprenticeship at Bomaderry in 1978 under the highly respected greenkeeper Ron Sharpe who served the club from 1966 until he retired in 1989. During Rod’s 40 years he has seen and been involved in many changes implemented at Bomaderry. Changes of particular note include the construction of the elevated green which now carries Ron Sharpe’s name, the moving of the green on the Cambewarra Road side of the club to the northern side and more recently the maintenance of the Berry greens and liaison with Nowra Golf Club.

Greenkeeper Celebrates 40 Years

Greenkeeper Sets Up Mental Health Support Page

Greenkeeper Sets Up Mental Health Support Page: The head greenkeeper of Hazel Grove Golf Club in Cheshire has set up a successful Facebook page that offers mental health support to greenkeepers in the industry.

Mike Davie created the page after observing “the increase of expectations of the golfer with increased personal abuse aimed at, and stress among, the greenkeeping community”.

Greenkeeper Sets Up Mental Health Support Page

He added that he’s known greenkeepers who have left the industry due to this, and therefore set up the page ‘Greenkeepers mental health support group’ earlier this year.

It already has more than 250 members.

“Mental health issues are more apparent nowadays as more seek medical help,” he said.

“Yet little support is offered from many golf clubs and duty of care is apparently not seen as a necessity.

“One of the problems is that clubs are run by well-meaning volunteers, which means when they need to discipline members for acts against the club’s staff, they don’t want a confrontation with their ‘friends‘ and would rather brush the matter under the table and resolve the issue by providing a polite pat on the head of the greenkeeper. This all creates a feeling of isolation within the industry.

“Any sign of acknowledging a problem by oneself is deemed as thought of being weak, so we tend to bottle it up, causing greater problems.

“In late 2017 I attended a stress awareness seminar by BIGGA at Sale Golf Club and realised that, by the number who had attended, and the fact that many are highly respected within the industry, we had a problem with mental welfare.

“I started a local support group in south Manchester for greenkeepers who wished to attend and talk out their problems. The realisation that we are not alone made a huge difference. The feedback I got was positive so the Facebook page was started in late July.

“This group does not always need people to comment but, as I have been told, the fact there is a page that can be accessed gives strength to someone feeling down.

“A big problem with our industry is that it is a high percentage negative industry. For example, you lie in bed listening to the rain, wondering how the course is affected. Will there be breakdowns, will all the staff turn up? The first thought of seeing a committee member is ‘what’s their complaint?’ and so on.

“These sites help to promote the fact we are not alone and in fact are a strong community we just need to tap in to, build bridges and connect more.

“In the long term I hope that the governing bodies will take on the challenge of promoting, supporting and giving help to the welfare of greenkeepers.”

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Head Greenkeeper Talks Flower Meadows

Head Greenkeeper Talks Flower Meadows: In a special column, Rob Peers, head greenkeeper at Hever Castle Golf Club talks about an exciting first year in the job:

I took up my post as head greenkeeper at Hever Castle Golf Club just over a year ago – and what a year it’s been.

Head Greenkeeper Talks Flower Meadows

One of the greatest challenges has been a tropical heatwave that seems to have lasted all summer!

For the team at the Golf Club, watering this summer took on a new and interesting dimension with the addition of nine new flower meadows.

The meadows are situated in Hever Castle’s gardens and Hever Golf Course: they cover an area of 4,500 square metres on Lake Walk (in the Castle grounds) and the golf course itself.

Each of the nine selected areas had different considerations and their own micro climate, environment and purpose. It was really important to us to select sites that would improve bio-diversity and functionality in areas which had previously been dominated by aggressive species such as bramble and nettle.

My team nicknamed the first area they developed ‘Tom, Dick and Harry’, and it was the first point of contact as we passed through the fence from the golf course into the grounds of the castle. We felt when we entered this part of the castle’s beautiful grounds that we’d escaped!

When we began prepping the ground back in March we could hardly dare dream of the kaleidoscope of rainbow colours that would burst forth beside the Lake.

The fourteen species including Calendula officinalis (Marigold), Centaurea cyanus (Cornflower), Cosmos bipinnatus, Linum grandiflorum (Flax) and Papaver rheas (Common Poppy) have delighted visitors and the team alike.

We sowed the rainbow mix beside the lake in May and the flowers should bloom until November. This is my preferred mix and includes marigold, cosmos, flax and poppy – it looks great and is a very good pollinator.

A real highlight for me this year was the rediscovery of the Anne of Cleves Bower House folly.

I’d been walking in the woodland area with our CEO Duncan Leslie who was explaining the work that was ongoing on the Loggia in the castle grounds. The water in the lake had been lowered and as we walked beside, what I believe was the original path of the River Eden, I spotted a step in the water. I broke off suddenly from our conversation and rushed to take a closer look.

The steps were part of the folly, which had previously been hidden among the under-growth.

We believe the folly dates from the time of the Astors but it looks like they used medieval brick to create it, and there are two heraldic shields for Anne of Cleves.

It was thrilling to uncover it for the first time in years and bring it back to life with a more subtle and feminine flower mix for Anne.

We planted species such as Anethum graveolens (Dill), Borago officinalis (Borage), Callistephus Chinensis (China Aster) and Lupinus nanus (Lupin) here.

The meadow areas on the golf course itself have a more sympathetic visual appearance with more native and naturalised species from a mix called ‘Flora Britannica’ which includes Achillea millefolium (Yarrow), Aquilegia vulgaris (Common columbine), Borago officinalis (Borage) and Campanula carpatica (Tussock bellflower).

It not only looks great, but it fits in beautifully with the landscape and has also proved to be another fantastic pollinator.

The creation of the meadows has been a real boost for the team – when the flowers began appearing, it’s no exaggeration to say that we’d go down and giggle like school children as we marvelled at the changing floral landscape.

Even though the meadows are still in full bloom, my thoughts are turning to next year and to possible new meadow areas.

If you like meadows, then why not have a go – if you get the right seed mix and you prepare the ground well, then the results are spectacular.

I don’t know whether the flowers in the meadows would have been higher if we’d had more rainfall, and we can only speculate at the moment why some areas have dominant yellows and others have more pinks – we will continue to monitor their progress and note down the different habitats – the amount of light in one, and the subtle differences of soil in others, and see what happens next year.

Watch this space!

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Wales’ First Female Head Greenkeeper

Wales’ First Female Head Greenkeeper: Lucy Sellick has been appointed head greenkeeper at Wenvoe Castle Golf Club – the first time ever a Welsh golf club has a female head greenkeeper.

According to Wales Golf, Lucy is now one of only two female head greenkeepers in the whole of the UK.

Wales' First Female Head Greenkeeper

Lucy began her career at Virginia Park Golf Club in Wales in 1991 – as it was built by her next door neighbour. She then moved to Celtic Manor in 2000, and had been the deputy course manager at Saltford Golf Club in Bristol since 2008.

“I’d like to thank all the clubs that invested in me to get me to the level I am now,” she said.

“I started on an apprenticeship scheme which is still available now, and then earned greenkeeping qualifications.

“I still love the job now, 27 years after I started, and come to work with a smile on my face every day. I think every greenkeeper leaves their job on a Friday and looks over their shoulder and thinks ‘I did that and it looks good’.”

Speaking of her future work at Wenvoe Castle, Lucy said: “Hopefully the course will speak for itself once this hot spell is over! I’m a golfer and will produce something I want to play on, and fingers crossed the members will be happy with it too.”

On being one of very few women working in greenkeeping, Lucy added: “I have slightly thicker skin than most people and you do have to prove yourself to people – get in that bunker next to the guy and out-shovel him!

“I’d encourage other women to pursue a career in greenkeeping. It’s too good an industry to miss out on because of people’s opinions of what we can do. Up to two years ago I never knew another female in the industry – we’re proving we can do it. Just give it a go!”

“She went from her local course in Caerphilly, to Celtic Manor ahead of the Ryder Cup, then England before returning to Wales to take the top greenkeeping role at Wenvoe Castle.

“As she looks round at her ‘office’, the rolling, tree-lined course which she is responsible, she encourages other women to get involved in the special industry of greenkeeping.”

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