A day in the life: Bob Meikle

Alistair
By Alistair September 15, 2020 07:13 Updated

The course manager at Crail Golfing Society in Scotland. the seventh oldest golf club in the world, takes us through his average day.

What time do you arrive at the club?

During the pandemic I have been starting at 5.15am and the staff arrive shortly after at 5.30am on a slightly staggered arrival to help reduce contact.

Can you describe your morning routine?

The first thing I’ll do is quickly check the weather forecast, before going over the planned work for the day ahead in case things need to change. Following this I will have a meeting with the team, then write up the jobs and so on that each staff member will be carrying out, and any other information, on the white board. Once that’s done, I will update the course status on the club’s website before heading out and getting on with the jobs I’m down for carrying out.

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

Due to the pandemic we are running with only eight staff for the two 18-hole courses, driving range, putting greens, short game area and five-hole junior course which has been a real struggle. We have a mixture of all ages in the team, including three apprentices, but at the time of writing we still have five staff members on furlough, on a rota basis.

Do you share tasks?

Yes, I try to be very fair with the tasks and let most staff members carry out any tasks over both our courses.

There are certain jobs however, like spraying, that is only carried out by the qualified members of staff.

How do you motivate your colleagues?

I have a willing team which is great for overall morale and motivation which I think is helped by the fact that no two days are the same for the staff.

I make sure to listen to all of my team’s ideas and thoughts, and am flexible to different ways of getting the job done. When we’re setting up for major competitions, that when we all get a great buzz, working together effectively as a team.

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

I like all of the seasons as each brings different challenges with the weather and tasks for that time of year.

In the summer months it’s all about mowing and presenting the courses to the best standard you and your team can, then in the winter months you are rebuilding bunkers and carrying out construction projects.

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

I love it when you see all the team working away together and you can see all of their hard work coming together for the members and visitors to come, play and enjoy our courses.

And what part of it gives you the least satisfaction?

I suppose it would be the members not fully understanding what the greenkeeping team do and what we work so hard to achieve on a daily and weekly basis.

Have you attended any courses recently?

I completed a Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) in Management at SCQF Level 11 last year and I have just enrolled on an assessor’s course.

These really help me with managing my team and working better alongside my committees.

Have you recently taken delivery of any new machinery, and how will this make a difference to course maintenance?  

Yes, in March we took delivery of a new BLEC Multi-Seeder 1600. Because this machine is a dimple seeder, it will enable us to overseed more frequently throughout the playing season with very little ground disruption – helping us to improve the condition of our greens and other playing surfaces around the site.

How would you improve the greenkeeping industry?

I would encourage clubs to take advantage of any many education opportunities as possible, including the free BIGGA events which take place throughout the year.

I feel it is also important to try and get more information out through the club to the committees and members about what greenkeeping is all about.

At Crail, we are trying to break down the barriers through a club blog, using social media and hosting ‘members’ days’ down at our sheds, to show them what we do and help to educate them of what role the greenkeepers play in the club as a whole.

Has a golfer ever deliberately directed a ball at you?

Hopefully not, but you just never know as you can’t keep all of the members happy all of the time!

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

We have no lakes here at Crail but we have had to rescue the occasional golf buggy which has gotten stuck after being driven where it shouldn’t have!

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

We have a real variety of wildlife on our courses and are proud to be involved in the Corn Bunting Recovery Project with our local council. To support the different birds, we have certain areas around the course we don’t manage and a large wildflower area on our driving range to provide important food and shelter.

In the autumn we cut and collect our roughs to thin these areas out to help the nesting birds for the following season.

As well as this, we have recently built our own bug hotel.

Are you seeing any evidence of climate change?

Yes, I feel the seasons have moved. Spring-time seems to start later, last for longer and be drier, and we are still carrying out a lot of cutting into October / November now.

In 2010 we fell victim to a storm that caused a lot of coastal erosion and damage on our Balcomie Course (specifically on holes 2, 4, 5, 15 and 17).

This prompted us to carry out some erosion work the following year, bringing in 300 tonnes of rock to rebuild the area at the rear of green 17 and, so far, this has been a great success.

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

Greenkeeping is a great job; you get to work outdoors and there are a lot of opportunities to work your way up the ladder or move and work anywhere in the world if you want to.

So if you’re keen, just keep your head down and work – take advantage of information and advice from other members of your team, or from those on other golf courses, and take advantage of any education that the club can put you through.

 

Alistair
By Alistair September 15, 2020 07:13 Updated

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