A day in the life: Chris Goodall

By Alistair July 4, 2020 06:37 Updated

The head greenkeeper at Selby Golf Club, one of the oldest golf clubs in Yorkshire, takes us through his average day.

What time do you arrive at the club?

I arrive at the club at 5:45am.

Can you describe your morning routine?

On arrival at work my first tasks are to open everything up, check on the overnight rainfall and check that the irrigation has worked OK. After that, I review the completed work from the previous day against the list of jobs we intended to complete so that jobs for that day ahead can be planned and allocated accordingly.

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

I have a team of five full-time green staff, including myself, and 1 additional greenkeeper employed during the summer months. I would say I am no different to most head greenkeepers when I say that I certainly wouldn’t say no to more staff!

Do you share tasks?

Most definitely as I think it is so important to have a versatile team who are skilled in a variety of tasks.

How do you motivate your colleagues?

I am very lucky to have great support and a team who are friends outside of work – we have events such as barbecues and nights out which really help to bring team members together. I think it is important to value and appreciate the effort and commitment of your team. I am very proud of mine and the work that they do and I tell them so. I also think that it is important to lead by example – I do not ask the team to do anything that I am not prepared to do myself and they appreciate that I am contributing on a practical level. Communication, trust and a shared vision are also key factors in motivating colleagues.

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

Summer! Although the summer months can be challenging in terms of keeping the course presented to a high standard. Who doesn’t like working outside in the warm and sunny days of early summer?

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

Obviously seeing the course all laid out and looking in great condition gives a sense of achievement and makes me, and all the team, feel extremely proud. I also get immense satisfaction planning projects and undertaking re-modelling jobs such as bunkers/tees, seeing them through from start to finish.

And what part of it gives you the least satisfaction?

Without doubt it is edging bunkers – it is never ending!

Have you attended any courses recently?

I have not attended any courses for a while. However, we have secured the services of a new architect for a major project we are hoping to undertake soon, and I have had the opportunity to visit a number of different golf courses who have used his expertise. This has been very useful both in terms of viewing similar completed projects and discussions held with other head greenkeepers.

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

Our Charterhouse Verti-Drain® 7416. Because of the amount of traffic the course gets, this has been key to tackling compaction in some of the high footfall areas.

How would you improve the greenkeeping industry?

One of the changes I have been working on is trying to give our members more of an insight into the day-to-day running of the golf course and what greenkeeping involves.

I held an open morning for members to view our greenkeeping facility, followed by a Q&A session. In blogs I have discussed the science that goes into preparing a golf course, key processes and course etiquette techniques. We also need a variety of opportunities to be available within the industry in order for green staff to be able to continue to improve and stay at the cutting edge. Finally, an obvious one, better pay! Too many good greenkeepers become disillusioned and change careers because of the low pay.

Has a golfer ever deliberately directed a ball at you?

No, but my team have experienced it. Education is required in instances of poor etiquette of this nature

What is your favourite machine and why?

At the moment it’s the Verti-Drain® because it is easy to set up, quiet in operation, covers the ground at good speed and achieves impressive results.

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

I have to admit that I once put a rough mower in a dyke after trying to get a bit too close… I certainly learnt my lesson that day!

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

At my last golf course in north Lincolnshire, we had many varieties of wildlife and did a lot for them which saw the course go onto winning many conservation awards. At Selby, we have occasionally unearthed small grass snakes.

Are you seeing any evidence of climate change?

I am not sure if it is evidence of climate change but there seems to be less marked differences between the seasons.

The varying conditions can mean that one day the course is great, the next day it’s not. Additionally, we are certainly experiencing prolonged periods of heavy winter rainfall and warmer summer temperatures. This, coupled with the diminishing amount of fungicides available, has created a number of challenges and caused a great deal of stress on golf courses.

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

Firstly, I think it is important that they are aware of what the job entails – particularly that it involves early mornings, weekend work and long hours regardless of the weather. Secondly, I would advise that they soak up as much knowledge as possible, of all aspects of the job.

How do you spend your leisure time?

My wife and I have two young daughters and we therefore devote much of our time taxiing them back and forth to their various activities. I enjoy running and for the last two years have taken part in the Great North Run raising money for The Alzheimer’s Association and Cancer Research. I also enjoy going to the gym and play football three times a week.


By Alistair July 4, 2020 06:37 Updated

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