A day in the life: Matt Purcell

By Alistair January 28, 2023 09:29

The head greenkeeper at Warrenpoint Golf Club, ranked as one of the top parkland courses in Northern Ireland, takes us through his average day.

What time do you arrive at the club?

In the summertime I arrive at 5:00am, then nearer 6:00am in winter. I like to be here an hour before the rest of the team.

Can you describe your morning routine?

I’ve normally planned the jobs out the day before, but in the morning I will assess if the weather has changed from what was forecast and adjust the jobs accordingly. Then, when the team arrive we’ll have a meeting, give the tasks out and discuss / answer any questions about the schedule.

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

There’s currently five of us, which includes a full-time mechanic. One more team member would be great.

Do you share tasks?

Yes, everyone gets to rotate which helps to maintain standards and ensures everyone can cover all tasks within the team.

How do you motivate your colleagues?

Cake! Not really … I’ve always been a hands-on sort of person, so by going out there with them in all weathers I hope I lead by example and help to keep them motivated by showing that we’re a team. I also think it’s important to listen to any problems or suggestions they may have in order to keep people engaged.

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

Spring can be good when you’re prepared and all ready to start your season, but also, who doesn’t love summer?!

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

Seeing the course presenting at its best, set-up and ready for the playing season after all of your hard work with the winter and spring projects.

And what part of it gives you the least satisfaction?

To be honest, I love what I do and especially love the outdoors but I’d say perhaps winter-time – when there’s only so much you can do – is the least satisfying part.

Have you attended any courses recently?

I regularly attend BTME and a few other events and courses held in the south of Ireland. Going to these events is a great opportunity to meet course mangers and gain knowledge from the seminars. There is always something to pick up.

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

We purchased a Redexim Carrier and Verti-Drain® 1513 in 2022 which has proven to be a great bit of kit. Our sprayer is also popular – the team love a spray day!

How would you improve the greenkeeping industry?

It’s tough out there, the work is demanding and that means we’re seeing a lot of people leaving the profession. I’d really like us as an industry to be able to get into schools and show what a great job it can be and what can be achieved.

Has a golfer ever deliberately directed a ball at you?

Not that I know of.

What is your favourite machine and why?

Besides a spray day, the Verti-Drain® is probably our favourite at the moment because of the huge difference it has already made to playability and course condition.

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

I think we all have at some time or other! One particular instance that I can remember is reversing a tractor into a lake…

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

We’ve seen a couple of herons around the course. To support wildlife we are planning to introduce some wildflower areas in 2023 to hopefully attract more bees, butterflies and pollinators.

Are you seeing any evidence of climate change?

Yes definitely. In 2022 spring was noticeably wetter and colder, following the winter which also seems to come much later. We just have to be adaptable and aware that you may need to change maintenance plans to work around the weather.

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

Travel where you can to get as much experience of different courses as possible and try to get work with a club or course manager that really wants to push you along and help you.

How do you spend your leisure time?

In my spare time I play golf, enjoy some great walks here across the mountains and I’ve just started fresh sea swimming.


By Alistair January 28, 2023 09:29

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