A day in the life: Tom Evans

Alistair
By Alistair September 24, 2022 08:55

The course manager at Wexham Park Golf Centre in Buckinghamshire, which hosts two well-maintained courses, takes us through his average day.

What time do you arrive at the club?

I usually arrive around 5:15am. I like to leave enough time to get set up for the day ahead before the rest of the team arrive.

Can you describe your morning routine?

Once I arrive, I will normally have a coffee with my deputy Joe whilst we look at the weather forecast for the day ahead and plan / load the team’s tasks onto TurfKeeper.

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

We currently have six full-time staff, and an additional part-time greenkeeper / maintenance person. We will also usually have a summer casual as well but, like most places, we would ideally like to have a couple more permanent greenkeepers on the team.

Do you share tasks?

We try to share jobs around as much as possible, but certain tasks such as spraying and irrigation will normally be carried out by myself or Joe. I’m not a believer in having people do the same jobs day-in, day-out – I think it’s good to share tasks around so that people don’t get bored.

How do you motivate your colleagues?

I try to make our workplace a nice environment to come into, treat all of the team with respect and speak to them how I would expect to be spoken to. Having experienced working in places where you don’t feel respected or well treated, I know how de-motivating this can be so I hope the way I treat people motivates them to want to come to work.

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

I can’t pick – every season has its own positives and negatives. By the end of winter, I’m desperate for summer to come along, and then when summer is here, I can’t wait for winter again! That’s one of the beauties of this job – the amount of variety we experience throughout the course of the year.

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

I get satisfaction from some of the stranger tasks such as irrigation repairs or turning a badly drained area into one of the driest parts of the course through the installation of drainage. I suppose the best part has to be hearing positive feedback from the golfers as ultimately this is what we’re all striving for.

And what part of it gives you the least satisfaction?

Lack of respect or understanding from golfers – pitch marks and deliberate damage.

Have you attended any courses recently?

Unfortunately not, my baby daughter has taken up all of my spare time this year so I have been relying on trade magazines, colleagues and social media to keep up to speed with what’s going on.

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

Mother nature really dictates what we do with our fairways and this year, with the dry spell, we haven’t been able to manage the fairways like we would normally. On a typical year we would spray fairways with a tank-mix of Headland Amenity’s Xtend 46-0-0, Elevate Fe and a herbicide. Our budget doesn’t currently have much allowance for fairways so this spray mix is cost effective and gives us great results.

Our greens stay consistent all year long. Throughout the summer I apply Headland’s Protec 16-4-8 , Temag Elite and Ascoflex Plus and then from October to February we use their 20-20-30 enhanced plant health mix and I wouldn’t use anything other than this through these months! It has proven itself time and time again by keeping the greens in great condition when disease pressure challenges us.

How would you improve the greenkeeping industry?

Recruitment is a massive issue at the moment, everyone is struggling to get new staff. As an industry I feel we are not valued or rewarded enough for our skills and at times we can be perceived as people that just cut grass. At the end of the day, we all work so that we can pay our bills and it seems people are finding they can be rewarded and valued more outside of greenkeeping which is such a shame and means we have lost a lot of good greenkeepers from the industry because of this.

Has a golfer ever deliberately directed a ball at you?

Not deliberately but I have been hit!

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

Unfortunately yes! In my early years, I lost control of a mower and it ended up completely submerged in a lake – sorry Sean!

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

We have the usual deer, foxes and herons here at Wexham Park. At my last course we had a resident wallaby for a while which was quite unusual! I’m currently working with a local owl conservation group to put a number of barn and tawny owl boxes up around the course to encourage breeding on the site and, while we are still in the early days of this, we are looking forward to seeing what happens.

Are you seeing any evidence of climate change?

Climate change is real and we are seeing the evidence of it year on year – warmer winters and hottest day records being broken more frequently, it’s impossible to ignore. I feel we are much more reliant on our irrigation systems now and the mowing season certainly seem to be getting longer. Even when I started greenkeeping, I remember prolonged periods of frost throughout the winter which is something that we just don’t seem to get anymore.

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

Ask questions (lots of them!), show interest in what you are doing and take lots of photos – I love looking back at the pictures I took when I first started greenkeeping.

How do you spend your leisure time?

I like to play golf when I get the chance and I love spending my time with my wife and two daughters.

 

Alistair
By Alistair September 24, 2022 08:55

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