A day in the life: Adrian Hollins

By Alistair February 20, 2021 12:15

The head greenkeeper at Ufford Park Hotel, Golf & Spa, which includes Suffolk’s only two-tiered driving range, takes us through his average day.

What time do you arrive at the club?

I arrive at 5.30am every day, all year round. This gives me some preparation time before the rest of the team get in.

Can you describe your morning routine?

Firstly, I’ll assess the weather to make sure we can do the jobs we had planned for the day ahead. Then it’s a check of the tee sheet, to ensure we do tasks in the correct order or change the plan if it has got busy overnight – due to the pandemic, it’s difficult to know how many people will be playing. When the team arrive, we will discuss the day’s jobs and plans, then get out and crack on.

How many people are there in your team?

Unfortunately, due to the current issues we are down to a team of four greenkeepers. Long-term, this is not enough but it is sustainable for a year or so. We are normally a team of five which is just enough to maintain the 18-hole course, driving range and the gardens and grounds around the hotel.

Do you share tasks?

With limited staff it is important that we share all tasks, even though some people may do more of one job than the others. It is all about getting the work done and keeping skill levels up.

How do you motivate your colleagues?

Over the years I have been very lucky to have such great guys on my team. We all get on well and I encourage everyone to have input on everything – from the daily jobs, right through to the big course projects. Teamworking is everything.

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

I do not have a favourite, I like the changes throughout the year – beautiful new growth in the spring, long summer days, stunning autumn colours and then crisp clear winter mornings. As the year progresses, each season brings with it different challenges.

What aspects of the job give you the greatest satisfaction?

Seeing everything come together and the course presenting in pristine condition after a busy week. Also, watching some long putts rolling smoothly across the greens knowing that the work we have put in has produced a great product.

And what part of it gives you the least satisfaction?

Repairing pitch marks, especially knowing our members are greater culprits than our visitors!

Have you attended any courses recently?

Not since Harrogate last year unfortunately. The best seminar I attended was some years ago, on the topic of ‘minimum disturbance and minimal inputs’. It was so enlightening, and I have followed this regime ever since with great results.

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

I only seed with J Fescue from Johnsons Sports Seed. We are predominantly a sandy course and this seems to thrive on our minimum input regime. We also use the J Fescue mix with good results on our poorer fairways that can struggle through hot summers.

How would you improve the greenkeeping industry?

We need to encourage the next generation into the industry as the average age of a greenkeeper seems to be going up. Low wages and the feeling that we are undervalued are two very big concerns which unfortunately won’t help!

Has a golfer ever deliberately directed a ball at you?

I haven’t ever been hit, but I have had some very, very near misses!

What is the most interesting animal you have seen?

The most interesting was a bittern – it stayed one night, obviously trying to find the nearby RSPB Minsmere Reserve. We do a lot for wild habitats, for example building bug hotels and a kingfisher bank amongst many other things. We regularly enter the Golf Environmental Awards.

Are you seeing any evidence of climate change?

We certainly seem to be cutting grass longer into the winter than ever before and it seems to stay warmer for longer, making for more milder winters. This means we often find there is less time to do any winter renovation/construction projects.

Have you ever had any mishaps with lakes on the course?

We have many ponds on the course so yes, we have had runaway trolleys in ponds and a mower without a driver creep into a pond… and a mower WITH a driver creep into a pond! Luckily there were no injuries and everything was recovered safely.

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

Study hard, ask questions and listen. Enjoy the job – it really is a great way of life. Try and play golf as well to understand and enjoy what you create.

How do you spend your leisure time?

Mostly driving my kids around! When I get some leisure time, I enjoy playing golf, tennis and going for nice walks with the family.


By Alistair February 20, 2021 12:15

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