A day in the life: Andy Brown

Alistair
By Alistair July 21, 2019 14:41 Updated

The golf course manager at Boundary Lakes Golf Course, the parkland course that’s part of the Ageas Bowl – home to Hampshire Cricket, talks us through his average day.

 What time do you arrive at the club?

I arrive by 5.30am so that I am ready for the team briefing at 5.45am.

Can you describe your morning routine?

Every morning, and day, is different but we will always be cutting or rolling greens. Then, dependant on what is happening on that day, the weather and staff numbers, we will cut other playing areas such as tees, aprons, fairways and rough. We will always have at least one person on course set-up which includes jobs such as raking bunkers, moving tee markers, blowing any debris, checking bins and ball washers.

How many people are there in your team and is it a fair number for your collective workload?

We are currently a team of six. We had seven last year and that was a good number. We have big greens and a decent amount of bunkers so ideally we will go back up to seven eventually but we do the best we can with the resources we have.

Do you share tasks?

We always share tasks. I try to swap the jobs around every month or so, but I like all of my guys to be able to do as many jobs as possible as this makes my life easier. We have some members of the team who are less experienced than the others, so sharing the tasks out is a good way to train them up and let them try to reach the standards of the experienced guys.

How do you motivate your colleagues?

I treat them as I like to be treated. We also try to have fun – we have social events away from work which helps create a good team ethic. I always think a happy team is a productive team and people will do that little bit extra if they enjoy their work and respect their colleagues.

What’s your favourite season of the year and why?

I’m not sure what has happened to our seasons as they all seem to roll into one at the moment. I always like the idea of spring because you come out of a long winter and can then start to present the course to the standards we want again. Winter can be a battle with the weather and as a new course, we try to protect the course as much as we can from that.

What aspects / functions of your job gives you the greatest satisfaction?

I love seeing improvements to the golf course made by the team – winter projects are great to get your teeth into. I also really enjoy seeing the younger lads improve their skills and knowledge, and progress in their careers.

And what part of it gives you the least satisfaction?

Golfers’ etiquette. This seems to be a problem everywhere in the country.

Andy Brown

Have you attended any courses recently?

I try to attend as many workshops, turf clubs and seminars as I can. These are a great opportunity to learn, network and catch up with guys who I may not have seen for a while.

What seed mixtures and / or cultivars do you use for your greens, tees, fairways and roughs?

We use Masterline’s ProMaster10 Traditional Green mixture on our greens and collars. We started sowing our green with fescue / bent in 2015/16 so we are trying to continue introducing these species. We then use PM36 Wicket on our tees, aprons and fairways. The perennial ryegrass gives us quick recovery from divots, is excellent on our shaded tees and is very cost effective.

How would you improve the greenkeeping industry?

Somehow we need to improve greenkeepers’ salaries and facilities. I see some clubs with more staff in the office than working out on the course. Some facilities are 20 to 30 years behind the times – we are expected to produce work to the highest standards with second rate facilities. There are lots of positives in the industry though in regards to products, machinery and ‘can do’ attitudes.

Has a golfer ever deliberately directed a ball at you?

No, I don’t think they have ever deliberately directed a ball at me but I’ve had a few near misses due to poor standard of play.

Have you ever had any mishaps with lakes on the course or had to undertake a rescue of a daft golfer?

We had an incident not long after I started at Boundary Lakes where a dog went into one of the lakes and struggled to get out so its owner went in … then she couldn’t get out either! Luckily, one of the team was nearby and managed to help her and her dog out safely.

What is the most interesting animal you have seen on your course and how do you do support wildlife?

Just recently we have had two Egyptian geese on the course which I’ve never seen before. We are really trying to improve our ecology on the course – lots of bug hotels, wood piles and wildflowers. We have a new bee hive on site and we are now working in conjunction with a local school to build some more bird boxes, which will be a great project to be involved in.

Are you seeing any evidence of climate change?

Whether it is climate change, or not, I’m not sure but the weather patterns seem to be ever-changing. More frequent heavy downpours of rain and longer dry and hot spells. Last summer was a big challenge for us with no rain for eight weeks. I don’t think these extremes are going to change anytime soon…

What advice would you give to a young greenkeeper starting out today?

Learn as much as you can, work hard, ask questions, pay attention, smile and enjoy your work.

How do you spend your leisure time?

I have a young family so that takes up much of my leisure time. I try and get some golf in when possible, but spending time with the family is very important to me.

 

Alistair
By Alistair July 21, 2019 14:41 Updated

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