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Groundsmen & greenkeepers numbers decline

Groundsmen & greenkeepers numbers decline: Groundsmen and greenkeepers, painters and decorators, plumbers, heating and ventilating engineers are just a few of the trades that the UK relies on, but a new report has revealed a decline in the number of workers in these trades. 

The trade trends report 2021 released by Skills Training Group has analysed 16 years worth of data from the Office for National Statistics to assess the state of the UK workforce.

Groundsmen & greenkeepers numbers decline

Groundsmen & greenkeepers numbers decline

In the report, it revealed multiple key trades on the decline, groundsmen and greenkeepers fell by 25.85 per cent between 2004 and 2020 from 32,500 to 24,100, while plumbers and heating and ventilating engineers fell by 4.19% (157,400 to 150,800) and painters and decorators by 17.80% (138,200 – 113,600).

Steel erectors took the largest hit of all trades analysed, between 2004 and 2020 workers in the trade fell by 47.93 per cent from 12,100 workers to 6,300.

Using the data, the team at Skills Training Group were able to forecast ahead to reveal what the future may look like for these trades if the average decline continues.

By 2049, the picture for groundsmen and greenkeepers looks completely different, projecting a decrease of more than 69%:

Skilled trades Oct 2004-Sep 2005 Oct 2049-Sep 2050 (est) Year-on-year average change Potential decrease over 46 years
Profession All persons in trade All persons in trade All persons in trade All persons in trade
Groundsmen and greenkeepers 32,500 9826.935089 -0.029 -69.76%

Commenting on the research and why young people may be the key to turning the tide for these industries, Mark McShane, managing director at Skills Training Group said:

“For many industries, young people entering the workforce early in their careers means they can learn the craft and make it a long term career – with many being business owners by the time they are 30. But, in order to encourage young people to make these choices, businesses in the industry need to engage with young people, sharing their success stories to encourage a new workforce.

“While many young people may enter into a skilled trade through college and apprenticeships, a missed opportunity may be those that have opted to continue studying for A-Levels. For these students, the general direction is to head off to university, so it’s no surprise that many may not have even considered a career in specific trades – this is where recruitment outside of the usual routes can prove fruitful.

“Communication and marketing needs to be a big part of each of the different industry’s goals – young people will better engage with clear and smart communication. To attract and recruit new talent to the industry, its image needs to adapt as well. Companies and industries that make noise, engage with social media and shout about what makes their trades great will see the tide change in the amount of people wanting a job.”

It’s not all bad for every trade, the data also shows that between 2004 and 2020 some trades thrived.

Roofers, roof tilers and slaters increased by 14.06 per cent, gardeners and landscape gardeners (23.9%) and farmers (28.64%).

Read the full report and insights from it here – https://www.skillstg.co.uk/blog/the-trade-trends-report-2021/

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Genuinely maximise productivity with Kawasaki

Genuinely maximise productivity with Kawasaki

Genuinely maximise productivity with Kawasaki: Spring signals the start of the busiest period for your machines and Kawasaki has some top tips for minimising downtime and maximising productivity.

Coming out of winter storage and into the growing season, your machines will need to be functioning to their full capabilities. Martin Cook, Parts and Technical Manager at Kawasaki Engines, highlights key maintenance tasks to make sure your engine and machines perform at their absolute best this season.

Genuinely maximise productivity with Kawasaki

Having a mower Powered by Kawasaki will get you through the Spring growing season with minimal downtime and maximum productivity. Seen here is the FS730V.

First and foremost, remove the spark plugs and check the gap. Oil on a spark plug could be a sign of low compression. Don’t be tempted to clean the carbon deposits off the spark plugs, this can cause more problems than it’s worth for the price of a new spark plug. It is very important to get this right as misfiring or poor performing plugs can put stress on the engine.

The importance of performing overall checks on your machines cannot be underestimated and some have to be done more frequently than others. Engine oil level, loose or lost nuts and screws, fuel and oil leakage, battery electrolyte level and checking for a clear air intake screen are best done daily. Make sure you clean the air cleaner foam element every 25 hours and the spark plugs and air cleaner paper element every 100 hours or in preparation for Spring, whichever comes first.

While most of the checking and cleaning can be done by a workshop technician or competent landscaper, greenkeeper or groundsperson, there are some checks best performed by an authorised Kawasaki Engines Dealer. For example, changing engine oil and filter, cleaning the cylinder head fins and checking and adjusting the valve clearance.

If you didn’t drain the tank before storing the machine for winter, you are going to need to check the tank is clear of any water or debris. Ethanol attracts water and the engine could misfire if there is water in it. This should be easy enough to do as most engines have plastic, see-through tanks and the water will be sitting at the bottom. If in doubt, drain and refill.

Most ride-on mowers will have two oil reservoirs, one for hydrostatic oil and one for engine oil. Always check you are using the correct one when topping up. Some hydrostatic drives use the same oil as the engine. For those please check your machine’s operating manual.

One of the most important things you can do for the overall performance of your machine is to make sure the blades are sharp and balanced. All other aspects of the mower’s maintenance can be perfect, but if the blades are dull your engine has to work that much harder to deliver, and that has repercussions on the longevity of the engine’s life and fuel economy, as well as leading to recutting, affecting productivity.

One easy way to maintain your Kawasaki Engine’s reliability is by using only Kawasaki Genuine Parts. This can make all the difference between a reliable machine and one that is not. Using non-genuine parts means your machine is less likely to operate as productively or efficiently as it should. When you choose Kawasaki Genuine Parts you are assured of quality, reliability and compliance with original equipment specifications.

Most oil filters look the same on the outside, but inside a Kawasaki filter, a slotted alloy tube protects oil flow. A pressure-activate bypass valve prevents cold-start wear and maintains flow in case of blockages. Silicone valves, rubber seals and a heavy canister stand up to high temperatures and severe use. Kawasaki build provides a different level of engine protection, one you can count on.

Similarly, with Kawasaki air and oil filters, these are specifically designed with permeability that matches flow rates, operating pressures and temperatures of your Kawasaki engine – and most importantly, they fit exactly.

With machines heading into their busiest period, make sure you’re preparing them for peak performance. Time spent on routine preventative measures now, will mean any downtime is kept to a minimum and productivity at a maximum.

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School groundsmen to the rescue

School groundsmen to the rescue: School groundsmen saved the day by helping to plant Sedbergh Parish Council’s new arboretum just in the nick of time.

Read the full article from Cumbria Crack here

School groundsmen to the rescue

School groundsmen to the rescue

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Here’s to the groundsmen

Here’s to the groundsmen: Arguably the most important member of any club, but one whose contribution often goes overlooked, is the groundsman.

Read the full article from The Cricketer here

Here's to the groundsmen

Here’s to the groundsmen

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English groundsmen braced for uncertainty

English groundsmen braced for uncertainty: While most counties have furloughed staff and players in a bid to save money as they wait to see what, if any, cricket will be played this summer, a hardy bunch of groundsmen remain in situ, trying their best to keep on top of the country’s 18 first-class grounds.

Without pitches to prepare though, their job is very different to what it would normally be at this time of year. “I know everyone thinks we are just grass cutters but that’s pretty much what we are at the moment,” jokes Stu Kerrison, Essex’s head groundsman.

English groundsmen braced for uncertainty

English groundsmen braced for uncertainty

He has been with Essex since 1984 and is the only one of the club’s ground staff to have been kept on full-time with the rest placed on furlough. It is a situation which has been mirrored across ground staffs up and down the country. But even though there is no cricket, there is still plenty to be done and the remaining groundsmen have had to pick up the slack. Understandably, they have had to prioritise the most crucial tasks.

For Kerrison, that means the odd jobs around the ground, like trimming the hedges, are being left for now so he can focus on the square and outfield. Gary Barwell, the head groundsman at Edgbaston, has only been cutting the outfield one way rather than the two ways he would usually do, which gives it that polished finish you see on the TV. “You are just coping with it,” Barwell tells Cricbuzz. “You knock a few things off that aren’t important.”

One of the biggest focus areas has been keeping enough water on the grounds in the unseasonably warm weather. Barwell has computer irrigation at Edgbaston so he can turn it on from home but the watering at Chelmsford is done via a good old fashioned tap and sprinkler system. “That’s been a battle because it takes three and a half days to water the outfield with our sprinkler,” says Kerrison.

The other major challenge has been perhaps the only certainty facing the groundsmen at present: the grass will not stop growing. And given the warm weather throughout April, followed by a bout of rain this week, it is growing fast. Barwell took 28 boxes of grass off the Edgbaston outfield on Friday. “Every day the outfield at the main ground needs to be cut whenever you’re there,” he says. Kerrison has sprayed the Chelmsford outfield with a growth regulator to slow things down.

For Neil Godrich, Derbyshire’s head groundsman, the enforced break has been an opportunity to recover the square from the winter’s rainfall. “We had quite a lot of bare ends on the main square because the rain washed all the seed around in October and November time,” he tells Cricbuzz. “If you had looked at my square in March, you’d think it looked like a BMX track as one of my staff said. Now the grass is getting stronger, we’ve done all the pre-season rolling so it’s helped a lot.”

All three groundsmen agree that in an ideal world they would want between two and three weeks to prepare their pitches for the start of the season but there is an acceptance that they will have to conform to the timelines laid down by the ECB. That means they could be forced to produce pitches in far shorter timeframes. “I’ve got a pitch out in six or seven days before,” Godrich says. “I wouldn’t recommend it, though. You need about 12 days for both sets of formats.”

If the season does eventually get underway, the ECB want to pack as much cricket in as possible to make up for lost time. That could mean lots of matches in quick succession, a challenge for the groundsmen. “If you told me we’ve got five different games in five days hopefully I’ve got the skillset and people would have the understanding,” says Barwell. “We’ll just cope with what we’re given. I believe the groundstaff up and down the country are good enough to do that.”

“If you can get a week between any Championship matches that are scheduled, we should be alright with that,” Kerrison says. “The one-day stuff, you can play three or four of those on the spin. Our pitches are designed to go four or five days so we can play a number of games on them in that period of time.”

There would, however, need to be some understanding from the players, umpires and pitch inspectors. In a situation where matches are crammed in even more than usual, not every pitch is going to be a belter, delivering the perfect balance between bat and ball. Some matches will no doubt have to be played on used pitches. That won’t be anyone’s fault.

The possibility that there will be no domestic cricket this season is a real one, of course. The need to create bio-secure grounds would seem to be a more likely prospect for a bi-lateral series between England and another country than getting county cricket up and running. The logistical challenge of rolling out bio-secure measures to 18 different first-class grounds is extremely complex. As such, for the likes of Godrich and Kerrison, groundsmen at non-Test match grounds, they may not get to cut a pitch in 2020.

If that is the case, the financial issues already impacting the game in England and Wales will get worse. The concern is what that would mean for county staffs. “The biggest fear for groundsmen around the counties at the moment is losing their staff,” says Kerrison. “They will look to cut money and one of the first places they look is out on the ground. They think they can save a few quid here and there. We are all concerned about keeping our staff.”

“My team are very important to me,” says Barwell. “I’ve got a great team with me at Edgbaston. They’re all desperate to come in to do some work. They’re the concerns you have more than the grass itself.” It’s one of the reasons why all three groundsmen say they will do whatever it takes to get their pitches produced in time. “We need to get cricket up and running from a financial point of view if we can, to protect people’s jobs,” Godrich adds.

For now, all the likes of Kerrison, Barwell and Godrich can do is try to keep on top of their grounds and wait things out. While they do that, they are putting in some long days. “Look I’m not an NHS worker so you’re not going to complain too much,” Barwell says. “I work in a cricket ground on my own. It is difficult though. You come home and you’re absolutely on your knees because it’s been a hard day.”

“It is quite lonely and there’s lots to do,” Godrich says. “As soon as you’re off one machine, you’re onto another one. I bring my dog down here. He loves it and has a run round. It’s quite lonely now, though. When it first started, you thought it was alright. Now it’s like, I’ve got that to do, I’ve got this to do. Is it going to rain?”

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England groundsmen face uncertain times

England groundsmen face uncertain times: While most counties have furloughed staff and players in a bid to save money as they wait to see what, if any, cricket will be played this summer, a hardy bunch of groundsmen remain in situ, trying their best to keep on top of the country’s 18 first-class grounds.

Without pitches to prepare though, their job is very different to what it would normally be at this time of year. “I know everyone thinks we are just grass cutters but that’s pretty much what we are at the moment,” jokes Stu Kerrison, Essex’s head groundsman.

England groundsmen face uncertain times

England groundsmen face uncertain times

He has been with Essex since 1984 and is the only one of the club’s ground staff to have been kept on full-time with the rest placed on furlough. It is a situation which has been mirrored across ground staffs up and down the country. But even though there is no cricket, there is still plenty to be done and the remaining groundsmen have had to pick up the slack. Understandably, they have had to prioritise the most crucial tasks.

For Kerrison, that means the odd jobs around the ground, like trimming the hedges, are being left for now so he can focus on the square and outfield. Gary Barwell, the head groundsman at Edgbaston, has only been cutting the outfield one way rather than the two ways he would usually do, which gives it that polished finish you see on the TV. “You are just coping with it,” Barwell tells Cricbuzz. “You knock a few things off that aren’t important.”

One of the biggest focus areas has been keeping enough water on the grounds in the unseasonably warm weather. Barwell has computer irrigation at Edgbaston so he can turn it on from home but the watering at Chelmsford is done via a good old fashioned tap and sprinkler system. “That’s been a battle because it takes three and a half days to water the outfield with our sprinkler,” says Kerrison.

The other major challenge has been perhaps the only certainty facing the groundsmen at present: the grass will not stop growing. And given the warm weather throughout April, followed by a bout of rain this week, it is growing fast. Barwell took 28 boxes of grass off the Edgbaston outfield on Friday. “Every day the outfield at the main ground needs to be cut whenever you’re there,” he says. Kerrison has sprayed the Chelmsford outfield with a growth regulator to slow things down.

For Neil Godrich, Derbyshire’s head groundsman, the enforced break has been an opportunity to recover the square from the winter’s rainfall. “We had quite a lot of bare ends on the main square because the rain washed all the seed around in October and November time,” he tells Cricbuzz.

Click here to read the original article

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New App For Groundsmen

New App For Groundsmen: The Premier League, The FA and Government’s Football Foundation are ramping up efforts to improve the quality of grass pitches in England with the launch of the Football Foundation Groundskeeping Community app.

The new platform provides a resource of expert advice for grounds staff, enabling them to connect with peers, discover new tips and tricks and share advice on best industry practice. Users can seek guidance from the IOG’s Regional Pitch Advisors, who are available to answer questions and update members on changes to industry standards.

New App For Groundsmen

The system is entirely free to use and will feature regular new content, with videos from high-profile groundskeepers, such as Wembley Stadium’s Karl Standley, case studies and the latest in groundskeeping techniques.

Developed in partnership with the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) and run through Hive Learning, Europe’s leading peer learning platform, the site represents the latest step of the Football Foundation’s Grass Pitch Programme, which aims to ensure every affiliated football fixture in England is played on a quality football pitch.

Karl Standley, Wembley Stadium Head Groundsman said: “Whether it’s Wembley or your local community football pitch, groundkeepers all face the same challenges.

“I think it’s great that we can now all come together on this new platform to share these challenges and help each other find solutions. We are all aware of the importance of improving the state of pitches in this country and this is a great step to making a long-lasting difference.”

Geoff Webb, IOG CEO said: “This is the culmination of over five years of work within our partnership with both the Football Foundation and The FA via the Grounds and Natural Turf Improvement Programme and will complement the invaluable pitch-maintenance service that the Regional Pitch Advisors provide for volunteers at grassroots football clubs.

Dean Potter, Director of Grant Management at the Football Foundation, said: “The majority of community football is played on grass pitches and it’s a priority for us that we are able to sustain this.”

“We know how important football facilities are in transforming lives and bringing communities together and this platform will enable us to build a new groundskeeper community that will provide huge benefits for people across the country.”

For more information, go to http://thefa.hivelearning.com/groundskeeping.

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Groundsmen Sacked After Team leak

Groundsmen Sacked After Team leak: Employees of Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club claim they were unfairly dismissed in a “witch-hunt” after a team selection was leaked online.

Three members of ground staff were allegedly denied disciplinary hearings or reasons for their sacking on Friday.

Groundsmen Sacked After Team leak

The GMB union said the dismissal “stinks” and called for Brighton to reinstate workers.

Brighton, which recently retained Premier League status, said it would not comment on the incident.

The club announced team selections were being leaked from October 2018.

Ex-deputy head groundsman Ashley Smith, 34, said he was taken into “private meetings” and questioned along with his colleagues from April.

The meetings were not recorded and the employees were allegedly told “they were helping with the inquiry”.

“It was a dream job that has been taken off me for no reason,” he said.

“I have a family mortgage and it’s going to have a massive impact on my whole life. I haven’t been sleeping since.”

GMB branch secretary Mark Turner said: “No evidence has been found or presented by the club during this near three-month investigation which links our members to the supposed social media team leaks, yet they dismiss our members without notice.

“This just stinks and considering this club prides itself on its commitment to the standards, values and expectations set by the Premier League, the way they have treated their staff throughout this witch hunt is simply deplorable and unfair.”

The GMB and Mr Smith said the workers had appealed against the decision and union is taking legal advice.

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Made for Golf and Groundsmen

Made for Golf and Groundsmen: From the tee to the green, from natural to synthetic sports pitches, as a greenkeeper or groundsman your primary aim will be perfection. Achieving this and maintaining your course and grounds to the highest possible standards requires specialist equipment you can trust. Machinery that gets the job done in the minimum time, is durable and affordable and above all, designed to specifically meet your needs. GKB Machines have been making a name for themselves with high praises from greenkeepers and groundsmen around the UK.

Seeding and surface aerating in one pass

Take the GKB Combiseeder for example. It offers a fast, efficient way of seeding and surface aerating with virtually no surface disturbance. Creating over 1500 holes per m² it provides accurate seed application at various rates to suit different seed mixes, with drag brushes to incorporate seed and topdressing. The Combiseeder can be used for overseeding and initial seeding and offers a fast and efficient way of seeding and surface aerating, with virtually no surface disturbance. There’s a large seed hopper with agitator brush and you get accurate seed distribution from all seed mixes. There are models from 1.2m to 2.1m and there are options of a multi spike cast ring roller or Cambridge roll cast ring roller.

Made for Golf and Groundsmen

Improve and maintain drainage with the GKB Sandfiller

Every professional knows scarifying and sand filling are the perfect combination to improve and maintain drainage on the course. The problem is, it can be a time-consuming task requiring dedicated equipment for each process. GKB have come up with the ideal solution, saving you time and expense and leaving you free to get on with other jobs.
GKB Sandfiller combines in one operation scarifying, removal and sand filling. Which means the operation can be carried out by one person, saving on time and cost. The principle of the Sandfiller is based on the much praised GKB Combinator. The slitting rotor utilises carbide scarifying blades that create wind in order to lift the removed material. The blades remove thatch to a depth of 4cm and the debris is immediately distributed to a sideways tipping container. Dried sand is instantly applied from the hopper to the trench the moment the scarifying is complete. The result is the area is once again available for use immediately.

Top dresser that’s always in fashion

When it comes to top dressing there’s a GKB machine that is just the job. The GKB SP100 has been developed on the back of the success of GKB’s trailed versions and to meet your needs with straightforward mounting onto turf trucks using a simple bolt-on system. Stand legs allow the SP100 to be quickly set up or removed. With its 1m3 hopper capacity the machine suits a variety of purposes, evenly distributing materials, such as sand and mulch with variable spread widths and depths. It’s easily fitted with electro-hydraulic controls and runs directly off the hydraulics of the chosen turf truck. Furthermore, the Sandspreader is available in four different designs which range from 1m3 to 4m3. While the SP100 is suitable for assembling on a turf truck: the ProGator, Truckster or Workman for example, other designs are provided with four pivoting balloon tires, for the perfect distribution of the weight on your golf course.

If you would like to know more about how GKB Machines can help improve and maintain your course or sports pitches a have a chat with Tom Shinkins on 07495 883617 or visit www.gkbmachines.com

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Groundsmen Look To The Heavens

Groundsmen Look To The Heavens: It was around this time in the long, hot summer of 1976 that things were getting really desperate for the nation’s greenkeepers and groundsmen. It remains the hottest, driest summer on record, though one that this year is threatening to outdo, and it forced those in search of water to keep their well-tended turf alive to get creative.

Exeter City drew up a plan to pour 10,000 gallons of treated sewage effluent on to the pitch. Torquay United trucked in waste water from a sewage works in Heathfield, and Brentford brought in 30,000 gallons from their local treatment plant. The only way the rugby league club New Hunslet could render the ground at their Elland Road Greyhound Stadium soft enough for a cup tie against Keighley to go ahead was to use a tanker full of water collected from a nearby car factory, which was contaminated with oil and “other waste materials”. “Tests on it show that it does not constitute a hazard to health,” wrote the Times, reassuringly.

Groundsmen Look To The Heavens

David Oxley, secretary of the Rugby League, said that though “this is traditionally a hard game for hard men”, playing it on hard ground would be one hard too many. “When it becomes parched and cracks open, that’s the danger point,” he said. “We have suggested that clubs might use purified sewage water, or any similar method. It is very much a local affair. Each club will have to decide for itself but having watched a game last Sunday when it looked more like a battlefield, I think the time is not far off when we shall be forced to call games off.”

The Rugby Football Union and its Welsh equivalent both suggested that clubs should consider cancelling games if pitches remained parched. “We are leaving it to the common sense of the clubs,” a Welsh Rugby Union spokesman said, “but if they did come to us for advice I think we would have to say don’t play unless it rains.”

The Guardian’s Frank Keating spoke to the director of the Sports Turf Research Institute, John Escritt, whose advice to groundsmen was simple: “The first advice is to trust in the power of prayer – and if that doesn’t work, which it won’t, leave the grass long because it can then collect what bit of moisture there might be around at dawn.”

At Cardiff Arms Park there was no need for prayer. Workmen had been laying the foundations of a new stand when the desperate groundsman, Bill Hardiman, pleaded with them to dig at the river end of the pitch to see if they found water. They did, just nine feet down, and again at the opposite end. From then on Hardiman sprayed his pitch for 12 hours a day. “I have had the water analysed and it is quite drinkable,” he said. “I drink it every day.”

Tony Bell, now Middlesbrough’s head groundsman, was just a child in 1976. “I remember thinking it was fantastic,” he recalls. This year Bell and his team, named the best in the Championship last season, have had to cope with similar challenges. “We’ve had dry times before, but not as long as this, day after day after day,” he says. “Irrigation’s OK, but it doesn’t go on the same as rain. It’s never as even. You only need a breath of wind and it blows about. Some parts of the pitch are getting double what they need, others nothing at all.”

Bell has several advantages over 1970s-era groundskeepers, including automatic irrigation sprinklers, moisture meters, consultant agronomists, and four decades’ worth of advances in turf science. Half the seed he laid this summer was tetraploid grass, a new, hardier, stronger kind of rye. He also has a borehole that provides plentiful water to the training ground. Yet still he has struggled. “Temperature has been the biggest challenge,” he says. “The heat basically forces us to put water on during the day just to keep the grass alive, but that also creates disease. We’ve had pythium blight, which is a warm-weather disease you very rarely get in this country. It’s devastating, it just makes the grass go strawlike. We had a lot of pitches that were severely knocked back, and they’re only just recovering now. Down south it’s been 30-odd degrees, which is far more challenging. Up here 21-22 is a normal summer, but 25-plus is a different ball game.”

Christian Spring is UK research operations manager at the Sports Turf Research Institute, and was recently at Carnoustie to monitor playing conditions at the Open. “They’ve not had a huge amount of rain, certainly a lot less than they’re used to,” he says. “It’s been about managing the water reserves that they’ve got and trying to keep everything ticking over so it looks authentic, feels authentic but still plays well as a golf course. This year was an opportunity to hold an Open Championship in true summer conditions. It’s a different challenge. Overwatering can be just as bad as underwatering. As with all things in life, finding the right balance is difficult. The art of a groundsman is knowing when to back off and not be tempted to turn on the tap.”

As this summer continues along its arid path, although this weekend’s rain has brought some relief, it is also about looking beseechingly at the heavens and hoping that at some point nature will take care of that job for you, and ideally before the borehole runs dry, the hosepipe bans kick in and you’re forced to put in a call to the sewage plant.

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