Greenkeeper profile: Rob Ransome

By Tania April 5, 2018 06:57 Updated

Rob Ransome is the course manager at Eaton Golf Club in Norfolk. Located close to the centre of Norwich, the club describes the course as a ‘hidden gem’

What time do you arrive at the club?

Our core hours are 7am to 3pm in the winter and 7am to 4pm during the summer months. At Eaton, we have houses on our boundaries so earlier starts are restricted. Flexibility is required at times by the team during renovation periods, when we can start earlier on areas of the course where we can get away with making a bit of noise!

Can you describe your morning routine?

Most of the staff arrive before 7am so we have a coffee and discuss the day ahead. Due to the restrictions in our start times, it’s a priority to get ahead of general play and work around any competitions we may have.

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

The team consists of six, including myself. We also have a part time handyman and a gardener that comes in for four hours a week. I’m lucky to have a very proactive membership here at Eaton. I recently put a call out for members to assist us in the clear up after some storm damage and as I’d only been here a couple of months at the time, I wasn’t sure what response to expect. We had at least 50 people turn up with rakes, the response was amazing! When taking this into account I feel it’s a fair number for our workload, although an apprentice would be a great addition.

Do you share tasks?

This is something that had been quite limited before my appointment, but something I’m very keen to implement. I think it’s important for the whole team to be competent in all operations with regards to cutting and manual maintenance. The team has a mix of qualifications like spraying, chainsaw and tree climbing, but I like to have that in a team as it encourages a good quality of work if they have their own skill sets.

How do you motivate your colleagues?

I like to think that I lead by example. I encourage input from all the team and work them to their strengths. One of my assistants, Ben, is a qualified tree surgeon and the winter project this year is predominately canopy raising and tree removal. We discussed what I wanted to achieve, and he gave me his input on the best way to get it done. It’s important to respect your team and their knowledge – we’re nothing without them.

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

I like all the seasons as they all bring something different. The colours of autumn here at Eaton are breathtaking, but the clear up after is very challenging. The spring and the sound of the birds singing and the course evolving with changes from all the hard work the team put in over the winter months is something I look forward to. The challenges of the summer months, in keeping the course presented to a standard that keeps the members satisfied. I enjoy it all!

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

Seeing members of my team inspired by what they are achieving. During my time in greenkeeping I’ve worked under, and with, some great people that have given me the knowledge and encouragement to get me where I am today. If I can play a part in that process for people that have worked with me, that is my great satisfaction.

And what part of it gives you the least satisfaction?

This is a great environment to be involved in that I believe should be appreciated. Awkwardness, ignorance and know-it-all’s give me the least!

Have you attended any courses recently?

Due to my recent appointment I’m afraid I haven’t, but my team have recently done their brush cutter training and our assistant James has just successfully passed his tree climbing and aerial rescue. It’s important to invest in your team, it shows commitment, maintains good morale and encourages dedication.

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

I started here mid-September, with our first purchase being the Trilo S3. We have a huge amount of trees and the clear up is relentless for six to eight weeks.

The staff and the members have been really impressed. The trees here are planted too close together and give very little room to manoeuvre but the S3 is small enough for most places and holds an impressive amount of leaves.

It also has a very light footprint meaning we can keep on top of the fall with no detrimental effects to the surfaces.

How would you improve the greenkeeping industry?

Education and training for everyone involved in the golf industry. We do what’s required to improve and maintain the courses we’re given, and this is a necessary disruption. Development is key and the work we do is carried out to improve the course and give quality surfaces for members to be proud of.

Has a golfer ever deliberately directed a ball at you?

Quite possibly. I did have someone land their ball into the sand in my tractor bucket on the 8th that I was driving through the course for topping up. I didn’t realise until I got to the bunker on the 14th. I bumped into him later that day and gave it back!

What is your favourite machine and why?

The Trilo S3 as it gave me a great start to my new appointment. It’s effective, efficient and has multiple uses with the suction hose and the additional scarifying reel that will be used on fairways when required.

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 a trolley out of a pond that belonged to a guy I was playing a match with on a neighbouring course. He also had his phone and wallet in his bag, he was not happy!

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

I’ve seen buzzards, sparrow hawks and oyster catchers. There’s deer walking through the course most days. Eaton is tree lined with boundary hedging but we create corridors with the addition of ecology rough, areas of woodland and pockets of scrub to allow wildlife to move around the course. We have some volunteers that put their time into building, erecting and repairing many bird and bat boxes around the course. We also have ideas going forward to improve the habitat areas further by log piling and constructing eco walls.

Are you seeing any evidence of climate change?

I’ve been working on golf courses for 24 years and the seasons have definitely changed with regards to timing. We’re able to keep the golfing season going for longer towards the end of the year but struggling with spring temperatures. We’ve had eight inches of snow in the first week of March this year. I talk to people who are convinced it is climate change and others who have experienced this over many years of working the land. All I know is that we have to work with what we’re experiencing year on year and adjust to the changes in terms of maintenance.

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

Make the most of the opportunities you’re given. It’s a great industry to be involved in with many people willing to share their knowledge. Listen, learn and work hard. Take whatever training is offered and don’t be afraid to ask. Be inspired and, if you’re working in a team that doesn’t allow this to happen, find another one.

How do you spend your leisure time?

I’m married with two children – one plays rugby and the other football. Around these I also walk the dog, cycle or play golf when time allows and relieve a bit of stress with a few punch bag workouts!


By Tania April 5, 2018 06:57 Updated

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