A day in the life: Lucy Sellick

Alistair
By Alistair August 18, 2022 09:00

The head greenkeeper at Wenvoe Castle Golf Club in Wales, which was founded around Wenvoe Castle – the home of its first president, takes us through her average day.

What time do you arrive at the club?

I arrive at the club 5:15am during the summer and 6:15am in the winter.

Can you describe your morning routine?

I wake up around 3:30am and take a quick peak out of the landing window before checking the weather app. After a shower and a coffee, one of us will take the dog out for a walk while the other makes lunch. With my husband also on the greenkeeping team, we’ll then head to the club, open the clubhouse and greenkeeping facility ready for a brew and the 5:30am team briefing. During this, we’ll discuss fixtures for the day’s play, how the weather may impact us and delegate the tasks, so each team member knows what needs doing and why.

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

Including myself there are five. We have a big site to maintain and can fall behind when growth potential is high or when we have staff off with holidays or sickness. So, an extra staff member would be a significant help to maintain a consistent standard.

Do you share tasks?

Yes, sharing tasks is needed to develop highly skilled employees as well as helping to maintain morale and productivity. However, I know each person has their own strengths and I will use these when we need to get things done most efficiently.

How do you motivate your colleagues?

There’s always bacon and egg rolls when the team has gone above and beyond, and a fridge full of cold drinks in the summer. A thank you is also important and taking time to talk with the team, making them feel valued and creating a positive working environment with clear and open communication.

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

Do we still have seasons?! It might sound corny but really, it’s all of them. Coming out of winter and spotting the first buds on the trees, getting through May knowing the course will soon be polished up and the diary in full swing with competitions. Summer it’s shorts on, enjoying the sunshine and then before you know it, you’re chasing leaves and planning winter work.

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

My love of this industry and the people in it. We know there needs to be improvements made on wages and conditions but after all the years I have been doing this, I still go to work with a smile on my face knowing I get to work in stunning surroundings and have a group of peers all looking out for one another. Do not think I could name another industry where everyone collaborates so closely with their competitors.

And what part of it gives you the least satisfaction?

When expectations do not match resources.

Have you attended any courses recently?

The R&A Women in Golf Leadership Programme. This helped me focus on my personal development, taught me new and valuable skills, challenged me to think differently and provided me with a coach who empowers you to succeed.

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

I use Johnsons J All Bent on the greens as we continue converting our Poa dominated green perimeter to a bentgrass and J Tee, making use of Johnsons ProNitro seed coating, at the start of the season. High round numbers and small tees are a problem for us. We find using DLF’s 4turf tetraploid ryegrass gives us quick establishment and surfaces that can withstand the high wear on our tees. We also used the DLF wildflower mixes – Biodiversity, which contains perennials, annuals and biennials for colour pops around the course and Pro Flora 7 which is used on woodland edges where we have cleared bramble thicket and cut scallops to increase diversity in the herb layer.

How would you improve the greenkeeping industry?

I think this goes back to a previous question and the point of expectations not matching resources. Huge pressure is put on a greens’ team when players compare one course with another, without knowing all the information – staff levels, budgets, quality of machinery and so on. Some clubs have a culture of complaints when it should be a culture of dialogue and transparency.

Has a golfer ever deliberately directed a ball at you?

Not directly at me, but any golfer hitting a ball when a greenkeeper is within range is risking serious harm to someone and this message must be made clear to golfers. There were too many pictures of injured greenkeepers on Twitter last season.

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

Not me personally but I had a team member radio through to say that he had lost his Sand Pro, which was then followed with requests to whoever has taken the machine, to stop messing around and give it back. It was later discovered in the lake next to where he was working – it had rolled into it without him noticing!

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

This is one of my best experiences… I was changing holes on a weekend setup when I heard a noise in the woods. Out shot a hare, that hopped straight to me on the green just a few feet away followed by a fox. The fox spotted me and headed back to the woods while the hare just sat there while I carried on cutting the hole. You do not get to witness that doing any other line of work.

Are you seeing any evidence of climate change?

There’s change happening – seasons are shifting, extremes in the weather, new disease pressures. I bought the usual pallet of rock salt for the winter and did not use a single bag this year. We used to have long spells of deep frost where you would not be able to change the holes for a couple of weeks, but now I cannot remember when that happened last. It is giving us new learning opportunities and as greenkeepers, we are great at finding solutions to new problems.

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

Add experiences to your CV as well as education and look to increase personal development. I now wish I had done the leadership course at the start of my career.

How do you spend your leisure time?

I play first team golf and am the current club champion. I also love hitting the coast or the countryside with the camera or tending to my allotment plot. I also volunteer for BIGGA as director for southwest and South Wales. I am passionate about the greenkeeping industry and if we want to see things change and improve, we need to be sat at the table not shouting from afar.

 

Alistair
By Alistair August 18, 2022 09:00

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