A day in the life: Paul Lawrence

By Alistair January 5, 2021 07:16 Updated

The course manager at Woodbridge Golf Club, which has an 18 hole and a nine-hole course set in classic heathland in Suffolk, takes us through his average day.

What time do you arrive at the club?

This varies depending on the time of year, but currently 6:00am.

Can you describe your morning routine?

Firstly, I check the weather forecast before leaving home to see if the day’s planned schedule can take place – otherwise, I always have a Plan B. Once the team arrive, I will assign the tasks for the day ahead.

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

Currently, we have nine full-time staff, plus another who works one day a week. As with most courses I think, you’d always like more, especially during peak times.

Do you share tasks?

I 100 percent believe in sharing tasks as I don’t think many people like to be stuck on the same job, day in, day out. Plus, this has the added benefit of giving me more flexibility within my team.

How do you motivate your colleagues?

After 38 years in the industry, I still have a huge amount of enthusiasm and drive for what I do, and I believe that this is key to creating a motivational environment. I’ve always been hands-on, and I’ve never asked anyone to do something that I haven’t done myself. All of the hard work my team have put in over the last five years is now coming to fruition and there’s no better motivator than tangible results – that, along with praise where praise is due.

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

For me, it has to be autumn. After the usual hot East Anglian summers, it represents the start of important renovation work to get the course ready for the following year.

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

The whole planning process and implementation – and then seeing the results achieved.

And what part of it gives you the least satisfaction?

If I’m honest, I’m not a great lover of paperwork. It’s a necessity, that goes without saying, but I’d much rather be out on the course!

Have you attended any courses recently?

I recently attended a defibrillator course – this could make the difference in saving someone’s life. Hopefully, I won’t have to use it, but it’s crucial knowledge and there if it’s ever needed.

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

We use a variety of mixtures from across the Johnsons range – J Fescue on our greens, J Rye Fairway on the tees, J Fairway on our fairways and the J Rough mix for our roughs. We’ve used a lot of these for a number of years and have seen great results with these mixtures.

How would you improve the greenkeeping industry?

I think greenkeeping has made great progress over the years in training with the help of BIGGA and various other organisations. I do believe that there’s a need in our industry to move further along the road of sustainability – reducing inputs of chemicals and fertiliser to do our bit in protecting and safeguarding the environment for future generations.

Has a golfer ever deliberately directed a ball at you?

Not that I’m aware of, though unfortunately I have been hit a few times, but I put that down to poor shots.

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

We see a lot of wildlife on our heathland site, including adders, grass snakes, slow worms, lizards, three species of deer and large numbers of songbirds. My favourite is the nightingale, which arrives in April and we have at least 10 singing males. We’re currently in the process of restoring the heath and we now have nesting woodlarks as a consequence of this work, which we have never had before.

Are you seeing any evidence of climate change?

Winters are warmer and we are mowing until later in the year. We regularly see summer temperatures over 30 degrees now, so yes – a longer growing season and more pests and diseases.

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

In my last job, a golfer decided to drive a buggy where he shouldn’t and slipped down a high slope into a deep bunker … to say he was shocked is an understatement!

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

Learn as much as possible from education and experienced members of staff on all aspects of the job. Do your work to the highest standard you can. When you feel confident enough and an opportunity arises to progress, go for it.

How do you spend your leisure time?

I enjoy fishing, walking and playing football (when I’m not injured that is!)


By Alistair January 5, 2021 07:16 Updated

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