A day in the life: Sam Shuttlewood

By Alistair September 26, 2019 09:14 Updated

The head greenkeeper at Beedles Lakes Golf Club in Leicestershire takes us through a typical day.

What time do you arrive at the club?

We start our day at 7am but I usually get into work a bit earlier to open up and get the kettle on. We tend to come in around 5:30am at the weekends, to get out in front of the competition.

Can you describe your morning routine?

First of all we get in, grab a coffee and discuss what should be done on the day ahead. Early morning work usually consists of getting the greens mowed and bunkers raked, hole positions changed and driving range balls collected.

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

We have recently taken on two additional members of staff, which takes us up to a team of six. This is a fair number as we have a full 18-hole course, a nine-hole, par three course, a 16-bay driving range and a 32 acre fishing lake. We do have a few volunteers that give us a helping hand around the lake occasionally. We also have our manager Jon, who does a bit of mowing, which we are very grateful of if our attention is needed in other areas for one reason or another.

Do you share tasks?

In a small team like ours it is vital that we share the tasks around. We are all competent to complete each job and I think it is important to do so, so it prevents the job from being the same thing over and over.

How do you motivate your colleagues?

We have a few different things we do… We have a cakes’ system which basically means if you make a mistake or get stuck on a machine, for example in a wet patch on the course, then you have to buy cakes for the rest of the team on Friday. We all play golf too so occasionally we will have a bit of a golf day between us, however some of the lads have questionable handicaps for their ability!

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

My favourite season is spring as this is when the golf course looks at its best in my opinion. We come out of the dark, miserable winter into spring and everything starts to grow again. The trees come into leaf, grass starts to grow and you can finally get the mowers out and regain definition back into the course.

Sam Shuttlewood

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

The most satisfying aspect of the job for me is a simple one – I enjoy looking back at the course on a Friday afternoon when everything has been mowed and looks sharp ready for the weekly competition on the Saturday.

And what part of it gives you the least satisfaction?

This would have to be when golfers, not all, but a few, disrespect the course. By that I mean not raking bunkers, taking divots and making pitch marks and not repairing them, and even divots out of greens…

Have you attended any courses recently?

We, as a team, do enjoy going to shows and talks when we can. We attend the STRI days and also BTME in Harrogate to keep up to date with everything new in the greenkeeping world.

Have you purchased any machinery recently, what was the reason for the purchase and are you pleased with it?

We have recently purchased two new bits of kit, a Redexim Verti-Drain 7316 and a Rink DS 800 disk topdresser, both from Charterhouse. The Verti-Drain was purchased to be used throughout the course, over greens / approaches / fairways / tees, to give suitable aeration. The disk spreader is used to top-dress the greens. The volume of dressing applied can be changed so we use it to apply a light dusting every few weeks, then also use it to put heavier amounts on over greens’ maintenance week.

How would you improve the greenkeeping industry?

I would say it’s all down to education, courses directed at both new and experienced greenkeepers. I believe experienced greenkeepers should also do what they can to pass on their knowledge to younger people starting out in the industry. Educational seminars are a good way to improve too, to see what other greenkeepers are doing with their courses and comparing techniques used.

Has a golfer ever deliberately directed a ball at you?

Not to my knowledge. There are always close calls when greenkeepers go out onto the course but I think that is more down to the golfers hitting a wayward ball … but I could be wrong and perhaps they are just not a very good shot! There are occasions when golfers try to play into a green, when one of the team are mowing it for example, and for some reason they feel this is acceptable, but after a quiet word explaining that it isn’t safe to do that they will apologise and carry on with their round.

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

We haven’t had to rescue any golfers from lakes or ponds as of yet. A few years ago there was a small pond to the right of the 16th green and one of the green staff at the time turned a bit too close on one of the machines and ended up teetering on the edge! He had to be rescued by his fellow teammates as he could not move in case he went in, and this was one occasion in which cakes were bought! There is a river that runs around the course though which does seem to attract a number of electric trolleys.

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

The most interesting animal we have seen on this course would probably have to be a family of otters who live on the river that wraps around the course. We do have plenty of wildlife including foxes, small deer and an array of birds which is always nice to see. When we have trees that need taking out, we use the logs to pile up and make bug hotels, we have made hedgehog houses and plenty of birds nests too.

Are you seeing any evidence of climate change?

The last couple of years we have had an increase in hot summers without rain. Every greenkeeper knows how bad the summer was last year and how much of an impact this had all over the course. This is still evident this year, with bare patches still in fairways and on tees. This along with the very irregular dry and warm winter we had at the start of this year certainly proved testing, to say the least.

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

The advice I would give to a young greenkeeper would be to pay attention to what other experienced greenkeepers do and say, take pride in the work that you do and the quality will show for it. Be keen and try to get as many qualifications under your belt as you can.

How do you spend your leisure time?

When I am not at work at the golf course, I am more than likely in my golf gear playing on the course. I am a member and like to play in the competitions. This means I get to look at the course as a golfer as well as a greenkeeper, which I think helps with the job.


By Alistair September 26, 2019 09:14 Updated

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