A day in the life: Ally Wyllie

By Alistair April 30, 2024 09:23

The head greenkeeper at Arbroath Golf Links, a course that was designed by Old Tom Morris in 1877, and then redesigned by James Braid, takes us through his average day.

What time do you arrive at the club and what is your morning routine?

I can arrive anytime from 4am in the morning, depending what’s on that day. Some days I can have a bit more of a lay-in but I tend to try and get to the club an hour before the rest of the team.

How many people are there in your team and do you share tasks?

We have grand total of three including myself at the moment. With it being a small squad, we do have to share tasks.

How do you motivate your colleagues?

By doing what I can to make it a good and enjoyable place to work!

What aspects of your job give you the greatest satisfaction?

Getting compliments on what a great job the team have done has got to be one of the greatest satisfactions.

And the least satisfaction?

Listening to players criticising, or comparing us to a well-known course nearby and wondering why we aren’t delivering standards like that.

Have you attended any courses recently, and if so, what did you take away?

Educational courses, no. Golf courses… I attend Carnoustie occasionally to walk my dogs!

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

My favourite season is probably springtime. This is when we start to get some shape and definition back in the course and can enjoy our work listening to the sound of the birds singing.

Are you witnessing evidence of climate change and, if so, how has your job had to adapt to changing weather patterns?

Has the weather changed or are we all just paying much more attention to it? We all have weather apps and data at our fingertips so I think we tend to notice trends more, when it’s wetter or warmer.

That being said, the winter months do seem to be warmer, and it’s now not uncommon for us to be cutting greens in between Christmas and New Year.

Have you had to overcome any course issues with disease and / or pests?

The biggest pest we have on the course is rabbits, and in the office it’s the directors!

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

The most popular will be our Redexim Turf Tidy. We’ve been using this multi-functional machine to thin out our roughs and scarify our fairways. We only took delivery of it in November but I love it, and I’m sure the improvements won’t go unnoticed by everyone else.

With a growing focus on sustainability, do you deploy any sustainable practices in the management of your course?

Any areas around the course that don’t require attention, we leave alone to create natural areas for wildlife. We are also looking to make an area for blue butterflies to stop and pay us a wee visit.

What are the technological developments that you feel have been the most important in your career to date?

Advancements with machinery I’d say. Some of the equipment that has been brought out recently is really good, particularly some of the cassette-type systems which have dramatically improved the speed and results achieved with some of the routine maintenance tasks.

Do you use social media professionally and what do you think this contributes to the industry?

Not as much as I should do as it does contribute a lot to the industry, being able to see what is happening at other venues and finding and sharing ideas. Sometimes when I get asked why I’m doing certain jobs or doing something in a different way, I just tell them it’s because I’ve seen it on YouTube…

How would you improve the greenkeeping industry?

Ask golfers to leave the greenkeeping team alone to do their job. We have a lot more knowledge and experience than people realise.

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

Get a job in Tesco! I’m joking, take every opportunity to learn and listen to your team, they’re there to help you. Try not to listen to the criticism, though this is sometimes easier said than done.

How do you spend your leisure time?

Anyone who knows me knows I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I didn’t say sinking a few drinks! I also enjoy walking my dogs Buddy and Holly and watching football.


By Alistair April 30, 2024 09:23

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