A day in the life: Rick Goodman

By Alistair January 28, 2022 09:57 Updated

The course manager at Sheringham Golf Club in Norfolk, a 6546-yard links course that was designed by Tom Dunn and opened in 1891, takes us through his average day.

What time do you arrive at the club?

In the summer months we work 6:00am to 2:00pm, and in the winter we work from 7:00am until 3:00pm. I typically arrive 30 minutes prior to the start time.

Can you describe your morning routine?

My typical morning routine begins with arriving and unlocking the greens shed. I then encourage my computer to wake up – the internet in north Norfolk is not the quickest! While that is happening, I’ll check the rain gauge, then check my emails and login to TurfKeeper. One of my other early bird staff has usually then taken care of the kettle…

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

I have managed to increase my staff numbers since arriving and I have justified this by bringing nearly all areas of the job in-house. I fortunately found a good mechanic and invested in grinders, which freed up a lot of outside expenditure.

I take care of the irrigation system myself and we have now moved construction projects in-house too. I currently have nine staff on my team, including myself, a mechanic, three apprentices and one bunker-raker.

This number works well for now, however I see my ideal number being 10 so that we can carry out hand cutting on the greens and tees full-time, as well as conducting pedestrian aeration and topdressing and so on to reduce the weight we take onto the greens.

Do you share tasks?

Throughout my career I have witnessed the importance of sharing tasks so I am always looking to share tasks around. However as you can imagine, with four unqualified members in the team this can be difficult. Training and development are key for us right now!

How do you motivate your colleagues?

I motivate my team by letting them realise their full potential! One benefit of being self-sufficient as a team is how rewarding the ‘after photo’ can be. Obviously a swift sociable drink down the local every now and then helps too!

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

Most definitely the spring for me, seeing the golf course and wildlife wake up.

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

Planning. I forward think and plan all the time, so when I hear golfers saying “our greens are disease free” or “the greens played great at the weekend” and so on, I take great satisfaction knowing this was not down to luck.

And what part of it gives you the least satisfaction?

Negative golfers.

Have you attended any courses recently?

Unfortunately, due to Covid and being extremely busy, I have not.

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

Every piece of equipment in my shed has its own importance at the club, however, our Redexim Turf Tidy and Verti-Drain have been very important in some of the renovation projects we’ve undertaken here over the last few years.

How would you improve the greenkeeping industry?

I will try to keep this brief! Golf is booming, so we need to continue to improve salaries, paid overtime and greenkeepers facilities! The respect to greens staff and others in the industry is still not good enough in my opinion. Fortunately, at Sheringham Golf Club we have addressed these issues and are very lucky. I would like to say that BIGGA are also doing a great job at this too!

Has a golfer ever deliberately directed a ball at you?

Not at me, however one of my staff reported it in 2021 and, to the club’s credit, it was dealt with very seriously.

What is your favourite machine and why?

I don’t really have a favourite machine as I see the importance in all of them. Again though, the Verti-Drain would be up there. We see a huge amount of golf played at Sheringham, so the decompaction with a Verti-Drain is a must!

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

Not here, but I worked at a club in Austria and there was an occasion when a digger driver was told that the bridge over a lake would be strong enough for him … unfortunately for the driver, at the middle of the bridge, he realised it was not!

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

Sheringham, being on the Norfolk coastline, means we have some amazing wildlife but in particular the birds.

Being a city boy, I am still a novice to some of the names, but I am told people travel from far afield to see them. We have installed lots of bird boxes and have started a gorse management programme to keep the plant dense and safe.

Are you seeing any evidence of climate change?

Sheringham being a cliff-top course is hugely affected by climate change. The biggest concern we have here is erosion of the cliff! I think all golf course managers are experiencing challenges, particularly regarding disease pressure with how mild the autumn and winter can be now.

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

Enjoy it! How lucky are we to work in such an environment! Stick with it, work hard, study hard and the rewards will come.

How do you spend your leisure time?

Leisure time… What’s that?! I have four children that take up my time, but when I can I do enjoy a game of golf.


By Alistair January 28, 2022 09:57 Updated

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