A day in the life: Rob Cook

Alistair
By Alistair April 27, 2021 04:28

Rob is the golf course manager at Perranporth Golf Club, which is situated on the north coast of Cornwall, the venue offers fine links golf.

What time do you arrive at the club?

It will vary depending on the time of year and the type of work we’ve got on, but myself and my deputy regularly arrive an hour before our scheduled start time to shoot rabbits.

Can you describe your morning routine?

When I get in, the first thing I’ll do is check the weather forecast and then, when the team arrive, I will issue out the jobs for the day ahead.

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

At the moment we’ve got a team of four including myself which is probably one person shy in my opinion for the workload we’ve got.

Do you share tasks?

Yes, where we can.

How do you motivate your colleagues?

I like to think I motivate the team through leading by example. I have great enthusiasm and passion for my profession and that tends to rub off on the others. I also won’t ask the team to do anything I wouldn’t be prepared to do myself.

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

My favourite season is the autumn. In my opinion this is when the golf course is looking at its strongest, coming out of a busy summer season of play and beginning to wind down into the winter means the surfaces are presenting well. It also tends to be when we carry out the majority of our overseeding work and there’s nothing better than seeing germination and new growth.

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

As I mention above, germination from overseeding and the success of these programmes.

And what part of it gives you the least satisfaction?

Poor etiquette from golfers!

Have you attended any courses recently?

It has unfortunately been a while due to the lockdowns and restrictions, so the last courses I attended were probably a couple of seminars at BTME 2020 in Harrogate.

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

We are an 18-hole links course and are passionate about promoting and retaining the natural links characteristics so our programme is very much based around traditional fescue species. On our greens we usedJohnsons J Fescue, which incorporates both Chewings and Slender Creeping Red Fescue. We overseed with this between one and three times across the year. For our fairways, again it’s an all-Fescue blend in the form of J Premier Fairway. This features all of the main Fescues – Chewings, Slender, Strong, Sheeps and Hard Fescue – which gives us fantastic wear quality with low chemical, water and cutting requirements.

How would you improve the greenkeeping industry?

I know it gets mentioned all the time, but it is pay … wages for greenkeepers.

Has a golfer ever deliberately directed a ball at you?

I don’t think so, certainly not that I know of!

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

Not during my time at Perranporth. However, on my very first day as course manager at my previous club – Bowood Park Golf Club – one of the greens team slid into a pond. It was a deep pond but luckily he managed to free himself and get out unharmed. I was only 21 at the time so as you can imagine, for my first day in a new role, this was quite the shock but thankfully it was all OK in the end.

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

Probably the most interesting wildlife we have here are Cornish choughs which are great to see. We are passionate about retaining the links qualities and keep areas, such as the scrubs, controlled but quite natural to encourage wildlife.

We also have some lovely wildflower areas across the course, which vary a lot throughout the seasons, and provide great spaces for pollinators.

Are you seeing any evidence of climate change?

Yes, I think the extremes of the seasons are more evident now which makes it more difficult to plan work. You never know what to expect weather-wise so I guess we just have to be able to respond and adapt to these conditions quickly and utilise any weather windows when they present themselves.

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

Always ask as many questions as possible and learn as much as you can from other greenkeepers.

How do you spend your leisure time?

If I’m not maintaining the course, then you can normally find me out playing on one! I play at Perranporth frequently, but I was also lucky enough to be presented with honorary membership when I left Bowood Park so I very much enjoy going back there to play, and I’m also a member at St Enodoc Golf Club too.

 

Alistair
By Alistair April 27, 2021 04:28

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