A day in the life: Craig Betts

By Tania August 31, 2019 10:29 Updated

The course manager at Aldwickbury Park Golf Club, which was co-designed by Ken Brown, takes us through his average day.

What time do you arrive at the club?

In the summer we usually start at 6:00am, though this may change if there are any big events in the diary. In the winter, it’s normally 6:30am.

Can you describe your morning routine?

I’ll arrive before the rest of the team to have a quick look over the weather and check emails and so on, and then make any necessary adjustments to the work schedule. We’ll then have a team chat, to go over job allocations for the day ahead.

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

I currently have six full-time members of staff and a part time mechanic.

Do you share tasks?

With having a relatively small team it’s vital to have all staff trained up to do all jobs. This helps with keeping standards and morale high.

How do you motivate your colleagues?

I’m lucky to have a team that’s very self-motivated and they are all passionate about the job. However, there are a couple of golden rules I will stick to – I’ve never asked my staff to do a job that I wouldn’t do myself and I’ll always lead by example, as this then filters down to the younger members of staff.

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

The middle of the playing season is my favourite time as all the hard preparation work and renovations we do over the winter months really starts to pay off.

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

Friday afternoon is very satisfying, when you see the course presenting well and we receive positive feedback from members and guests.

And what part of it gives you the least satisfaction?

When you fully rake the bunkers and you come back an hour or so later and see unraked bunkers … that can be very frustrating.

Have you attended any courses recently?

Working for BGL, we do a lot of training and offer courses for all members of staff. The most recent one that I attended was a course managers’ meeting at Reesink and it was about ‘training the trainer’. It is always great to go back and have these refresher courses.

Do you have a feeding programme for your fairways? How do you ensure your greens have good colour?

I’m using a Headland Amenity programme on my fairways. To start the season off we apply Easygreen™ Mini granular and then during the season we’re using a tank-mix of Elevate Fe®, Xtend® Soluble 46.0.0 and TriCure AD™. We lost a lot of coverage on our fairways due to the drought of last summer and our Headland programme has really been the key to their recovery.

How would you improve the greenkeeping industry?

I would like to see the job seen as more of a profession, as the tasks that we have to do are so diverse compared to any normal trade – no two days are the same. This would help with the salary as there are good greenkeepers leaving the industry because, while they love the job, the pay doesn’t reflect the work we do.

Has a golfer ever deliberately directed a ball at you?

I would hope not but there is the odd near miss every now and then.

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

I did have to help pull an electric trolley (complete with a full set of clubs) out of the pond at the 10th at Aldwickbury with my last course manager, Graham Down.

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

We have a few parakeets that have been on nesting of the golf course for quite a few years now.

To try and encourage wildlife we have sown a few areas on the golf course with wildflower which has been great for pollinators and brings great colour to the course.

Are you seeing any evidence of climate change?

Well, the summer of 2018 was the biggest sign of the climate change that we are facing; high temperatures and no rain for eight weeks. This was the toughest test in my career and is something I think we will start to face more regularly.

It’s forcing you to think more about putting a programme together with wetting agents / seaweeds and so on to try and keep good grass coverage.

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

I think to anyone starting in the job now, I’d say ask as many questions as possible, get yourself on as many training courses, seminars and course walks as you can as this is a fantastic way to see how other courses work.

How do you spend your leisure time?

I spend my leisure time with my young family. I’ll try to get out and play a round or two as much as I can but spending time with the family is the most important thing to me.


By Tania August 31, 2019 10:29 Updated

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