A day in the life: Joe Curtis

By Alistair November 1, 2019 08:35 Updated

The course manager at Gloucester Golf Club takes us through his average day.

What time do you arrive at the club?

I arrive at 5.45am in summer for a 6am start, and 6.20am in winter for a 6.30am start.

Can you describe your morning routine?

During the summer months we are usually out starting work on the course as soon as we can, so that we are able to stay ahead of golf. I will check the weather and BRS booking sheet, then we are all out doing morning set up. In winter as it’s dark we usually get time for a cuppa and the odd biscuit before setting out the tasks for the day ahead.

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

We have five full-time staff, of whom two are apprentices, plus we also have a part-time mechanic and bunker-raker on weekends during the summer months.

As most course managers would say, we could always do with more staff but we cope well with five until we encounter sickness and holidays.

Do you share tasks?

We do try to share as many tasks as possible, whilst also training two new apprentices. This means that any staff member can do any task. Being a hands-on course manager, I still love to get my hands dirty.

How do you motivate your colleagues?

I always give staff praise when they do a good job, but I also give them feedback whether that’s good or bad – I see that bad feedback can motivate them to do better and good feedback can make them feel proud and keep that level the same the following week.

We also have a few nights out at Gloucester Rugby to socialise.

Joe Curtis

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

I love when you come out of a difficult winter into an early spring, and the course starts to take shape and leaves start to appear.

You can then start to look forward to the warmer weather.

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

Knowing that we have produced the best course we can as a team, and that the members and visitors have enjoyed their round enough to want to come back again.

And what part of it gives you the least satisfaction?

When things out of my control affect how I do my job.

Even though things sometimes can’t be helped, this can be very frustrating.

Have you attended any courses recently?

I’ve not had the opportunity to attend many courses recently as I have been very busy.

I was, however, lucky enough to be part of the Open support team at Royal Portrush Golf Club, which was a great experience from which I gained lots of information, and lots of new contacts to share ideas with.

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

I have recently started using the DLF Masterline range of seed – PM13 fine fescue on greens and PM79 perennial rye grass for tees and fairways. I’m very pleased with this, it is very well priced for my budget and I have already achieved great results.

How would you improve the greenkeeping industry?

I would like to see more of an understanding between greens’ staff, club management and membership as we all want the best for our clubs, so it would be great if we all worked together to achieve this goal.

Has a golfer ever deliberately directed a ball at you?

I hope not, but I’m sure there is a list I could give you that would like to!

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

Recently we built a pond on the eighth hole and I was walking in to get some balls out, when I slipped down the new lining and fell in! This gave great laughter to the greens’ staff and general manager. I’m just glad they didn’t film it…!

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

We actually have a wild macaw that lives on our 18th hole.

This gets fed daily by Mark, who normally does the bunkers on the weekends. It’s a great sight and one we’re very lucky to have.

Tom, my apprentice, loves birds and at his own expense has feeding areas around the course for all sorts of birds.

Are you seeing any evidence of climate change?

I will have to say yes to that, especially after last year’s warm summer. We seem to have had a very unpredictable weather pattern this summer, which has affected the tasks I set.

The seasons seem to have certainly changed with colder, longer springs and more prolonged autumns where we are now still regularly mowing in November and December.

I guess it is great for the business.

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

Don’t give up – this is a tough but very rewarding and satisfying industry to work in. Listen and take advice from your peers and don’t be afraid to ask questions even if you think they are silly.

We certainly won’t be millionaires, but we do have the best office in the world.

How do you spend your leisure time?

I have a little baby girl who is five months old, so I love spending time with her and my partner and enjoy days out when the weather is good.

I play golf when I can and I’m also a big Gloucester Rugby fan so I try to get to as many matches there as possible.


By Alistair November 1, 2019 08:35 Updated

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