A day in the life: John Moorhouse

By Alistair March 19, 2021 07:46 Updated

The course manager at Brocket Hall Golf Club, the Hertfordshire venue that is considered to be one of the most stylish golf locations in the UK, takes us through his average day.

What time do you arrive at the club?

In a normal year I arrive at 5:30am in the summer for a 6:00am start, and in the winter it’s 7:00am. However, at the moment with Covid and no golfers, I arrive at 8:00am… I feel like an office worker!

Can you describe your morning routine?

The first thing I do is check the first tee time and then check the whiteboard where all the jobs are pencilled in for course set up, which changes depending on what time of year we’re in.

I’ll consult with my deputy Steve Stroomer about whether any changes need to be made to the schedule and ensure we’re good to go for the day ahead.

When the team arrive, we’ll brief them on the amount of golf and the tasks to be completed by each team. I will then head out and work alongside the team for the morning session.

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

At the moment we have a team of 10 greenkeepers, including Steve our deputy course manager, Matt Reed who is head greenkeeper on the Palmerston Course and John Blair and Stephen Millard, both senior greenkeepers.

We are then backed up by Nick Orchard, George Leeds, Ed Nightingale, Mark Johnson, Oscar Lawrence, Jack Giddens, Phil Spencer who is our service technician and a gardener, Ian Harvey. The team is very well balanced and they all take a lot of pride and dedication in their work. The plan currently is to look to recruit four more staff members in the not too distant future.

Do you share tasks?

Because we have two 18 hole courses, along with a driving range and practice facilities, the team have their work cut out – so yes, tasks are always shared around.

How do you motivate your colleagues?

The team we have at the moment is well motivated and they give 100 percent effort in every task, every day. We all get great satisfaction out of presenting a golf course that plays well, especially when the club hosts charity days where the quality of the course can help in raising money.

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

This is a tricky one. I love the sunshine, but with that comes evaporation and transpiration which requires managing.

However, now that I’ve been here for 29 years, I know the particular problem areas quite well. Plus, its always lovely working in shorts and t-shirt!

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

Making the right decisions that result in presenting the courses in excellent playing condition. It is particularly satisfying to grab windows of opportunity where the weather is concerned to conduct tasks that will benefit the course.

And what part of it gives you the least satisfaction?

People not understanding how the grass plant grows and how the weather effects it just like humans.

Have you attended any courses recently?

Due to the continued challenges, the last courses I attended were at BTME, Harrogate in January 2020.

Do you have a feeding programme for your fairways? How do you ensure your greens have good colour?  

With a total of 49 greens to look after, many of them in shaded areas, we have many different feeding programmes in place.

However, during the winter months we’ve been applying Headland Amenity’s 20-20-30 + Mantle mix which helps to give our greens strength and enhanced disease resistance over the high pressure period. We’ve also been using Headland’s C-Complex fertiliser on the greens, plus other turf tonics. The fairways on the Melbourne course grow very well so in the summer we use a PGR on these during the main growing months, and will use this also on the Palmerston fairways when required.

The rest of the year, we apply a three-month controlled-release product from AGS.

How would you improve the greenkeeping industry?

It would be great to ensure owners and members understand the level of skill that is involved in providing good quality golf courses. This would be boosted by the industry paying wages to reflect these skills, to compare with other professions.

Has a golfer ever deliberately directed a ball at you?

Having been in this profession for many years, there have certainly been many instances where golfers have hit shots while I have been carrying out my work, however I doubt and hope that none have been deliberate!

What is your favourite machine and why?

Any greens mower – that is my favourite task – though I don’t do it in the rain anymore as I’ve had too many years of getting a wet bottom! We have also recently taken delivery of a Redexim Top-Brush which has proven to be a really versatile piece of kit and is sure to become a favourite.

Last year we successfully cleared worm casts with it, but in addition, it played a massive role in the removal of debris and moisture, together with leaf clearance on the tree-lined Palmerston course at Brocket Hall.

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

We have the River Lea which runs through the Melbourne Course and have had many incidents with this over the years. There is also a ferry to take people across the 18th hole, and at least once a year the rope breaks and people have to be rescued by boat! We’ve had numerous buggies in the river, and one driven by Freddie Flintoff and Jack Whitehall straight into the reeds while filming with Jamie Redknapp for ‘A League of Their Own’.

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

Being a parkland / woodland golf resort, we see many different types of wildlife but I would say that the swans coming in to lay their eggs, and seeing them hatch, is one of my favourite sights.

Are you seeing any evidence of climate change?

We seem to get extremes of weather conditions now – excessive heat in the summer and much wetter winters.

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

I’d say greenkeeping is for those that enjoy working outdoors and understand why people play golf and how what you do as a greenkeeper can meet those needs.

It’s also for you if you like using lots of different types of machinery but you also need to apply good common sense to everything you do.

How do you spend your leisure time?

When we’re not restricted on travel, I spend a lot of my leisure time going to my apartment in Spain and mixing with the locals which is a good test for my limited Spanish vocabulary. I also enjoy working on the vegetable patch in my back garden and getting out to play golf at different courses.


By Alistair March 19, 2021 07:46 Updated

Follow us on social media

Join Our Mailing List

Advertise with Greenkeeping

To advertise in the magazine or online, contact:

or email marketing@thegolfbusiness.co.uk

View our latest issues