A day in the life: Lee Strutt

By Tania June 22, 2019 16:12 Updated

The golf course manager at the Royal Automobile Club in Surrey, a private club that features a vast array of sporting facilities, talks us through his average day.

What time do you arrive at the club?

I normally arrive around 4.30 to 4.45am.

Can you describe your morning routine?

This can vary greatly as no two days are ever the same. I normally like to have seen the weather forecast before leaving for work and then on arrival at the club, get a confirmation from our weather station. I have a quick chat with my two deputies and head mechanic to discuss the last 24 hours plus the plan for the day ahead. Once they’re scheduling the day’s tasks, I normally catch up on emails from the previous evening. Then it’s either looking around the courses and estate and / or starting on information updates, reports or finance.

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

I have 21 during the winter and 27 during the summer. It never seems to be enough people, as there is always a list of priority tasks to be completed.

Do you share tasks?

I try to delegate as much as I can – it is always important to have as many staff who are able to undertake your tasks as possible.

How do you motivate your colleagues?

Motivating my team is very diverse, every team member needs something a little different to help them engage with their work. I try to listen, clarify and help them with their tasks and duties. I try to set a good example (and I’m certainly not perfect!) so that we try to help each other as much as possible.

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

It has to be late spring – the smell of freshly mown grass, the course shrugs off its winter coat and starts taking up definition.

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

I get great satisfaction from seeing my staff learn, develop and produce great work.

Lee Strutt

And what part of it gives you the least satisfaction?

Idiotic complaints by people who have little, or no, common sense!

Have you attended any courses recently?

We had an internal course on performance management which aimed to help managers identify staffing issues and learn how we can help team members perform better. The course gave us clear tools to use, to reduce friction between staff and managers and helped us to identify areas where the business can assist its team members.

What piece of equipment would you say is the most popular and frequently used by you and your team?

Our Charterhouse Rink 3800 topdresser has had a huge impact on our operations. This machine helps move topdressing sand onto the course which we then dispense into smaller topdressers, saving us valuable time for topdressing as well as reducing wear.

How would you improve the greenkeeping industry?

More respect and understanding on what we do; too many people think of simple solutions without taking into considerations the many complexities of the job.

Has a golfer ever deliberately directed a ball at you?

Fortunately, no.

What is your favourite machine and why?

As old as it is, it would still have to be our Verti-Drain. An icon in our industry and one that revolutionised the activity of aeration.

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

I’ve lost count of the times electric trolleys have ended up in streams and lakes and have had to be rescued, but the look on the golfers’ faces is normally priceless.

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

When I was based in Scotland, we would often have red kites flying around. Amazing, beautiful birds and great to see their numbers on the increase.

As for supporting wildlife, I believe it comes naturally to greenkeepers to create natural habitats for a wide spectrum of wildlife, from insects to mammals. Like farmers, we are custodians of the land and so should always make sure that we respect it, look after it and make up shortfalls where possible.

Are you seeing any evidence of climate change?

Well there is no doubt there is a shift in the seasons; April is a real struggle for growth and consistency, but October, typically, is becoming a great autumn month. Regardless of the date in the diary, we are constantly looking at the weather forecast, what is happening and reacting on a daily and weekly basis. No two days are ever the same.

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

Firstly, be patient. If you love the industry, your turn will come to use different equipment, to undertake different tasks and opportunities will arise for you to travel. If it is truly what you want to do, you’ll have a career filled with many experiences and a lot of friends.

How do you spend your leisure time?

Any spare time I get, I love to travel, be it by plane, train or automobile. I love the excitement of going to places or countries I’ve never been to before. Mostly its connected in some way to the golf industry – you are never far from someone you know or someone you have heard of. If I’m not getting away, I enjoy cooking. There’s nothing like creating a special meal for friends and family

By Tania June 22, 2019 16:12 Updated

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