A day in the life: Peter Makinson

By Alistair March 11, 2023 09:32

The owner and head greenkeeper of Casterton Golf Club in Cumbria, a venue that offers golf, footgolf and rugbygolf, takes us through his average day.

What time do you arrive at the club and what is your morning routine?

I arrive at the course at 6.50am in the summer and 7.50am during the winter months. Prior to arriving, I will have assessed the weather forecast and planned the jobs for the day ahead at home so that I am ready to give the jobs out as soon as the team arrive.

How many people are there in your team and do you share tasks?

Including myself there are currently three full-time and two part-time members of staff. As a small team, we do share all of the tasks.

How do you motivate your colleagues?

I’ll always share good feedback and give praise to the team when they have done a good job.

What aspects of your job give you the greatest satisfaction?

Admiring the course after it has all been mown. There’s nothing better than the fresh smell of grass and seeing the course all ‘striped up’.

And the least satisfaction?

Working outside in the wet and cold weather… though I don’t think anybody likes that!

Have you attended any courses recently, and if so, what did you take away?

I have not attended any courses recently, but I do keep up to date with what’s new and happening by reading many articles and speaking to various people in the industry.

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

My favourite is the spring. This is because you can see the course changing and returning to being more defined and the daylight hours start to increase. The wildlife as well as the grass, start to awaken.

Are you witnessing evidence of climate change and, if so, how has your job had to adapt to changing weather patterns?

Yes. The weather patterns are much more extreme now – for example, when it rains it never stops and when it’s dry, it can be a long time before you see rain again.

There does not seem to be a balance anymore.

I think these changes mean you just have to be able to react quickly to the weather, and tailor your feeding and wetting agent programmes accordingly.

Have you had to overcome any course issues with disease and / or pests?

Yes and this has been a challenge but for the last 10-plus years I have been fungicide-free on the greens. We’ve relied on proactive management with programmes like the Headland 20-20-30 tank-mix from Origin Amenity which has helped significantly with managing fusarium.

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

I do not feed my fairways. On the greens, a good balanced feeding programme keeps them in both good health and colour. We use a range of products from the Headland range including C- Complex, Protec Plus and Protec Hi K amongst others and with this programme we have achieved great results.

With a growing focus on sustainability, do you deploy any sustainable practices in the management of your course?

As mentioned, I don’t use any chemicals on my greens and I try to keep input of fertilisers to a minimum whilst maintaining my desired level of performance throughout the course.

What do you do to support wildlife?

We have a lot of stone walls, hedges and grassland that is unmanaged which creates a lot of places for different species of wildlife.

What are the technological developments that you feel have been the most important in your career to date?

The major one would be the advances in machinery and turf equipment which have enabled massive improvements in course standards over the years.

Do you use social media professionally and what do you think this contributes to the industry?

The course uses social media a lot, and I have some input on these channels to share some of the updates from the greenkeeping team.

How would you improve the greenkeeping industry?

I do wish that greenkeepers were regarded in the same way as other trade professionals such as plumbers.

This would likely come in time, if more promotion of the greenkeeping industry were to take place.

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

Work hard, ask lots of questions and get as many qualifications as you can.

How do you spend your leisure time?

In my downtime I like to spend time with my family and I also enjoy playing a round of golf.


By Alistair March 11, 2023 09:32

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