A day in the life: Dale Housden

By Alistair September 27, 2018 09:07 Updated

Dale is the course manager at Hollywood Golf Club near Birmingham. The course is laid out in a valley and has twin streams running through it.

What time do you arrive at the club?

Summer hours sees me arrive at 5am, with a move for the team back to a 6:30am start in the winter.

Can you describe your morning routine?

I normally arrive 15 minutes before the team to open up. Then I’ll check the weather gauges, make any last-minute adjustments to tasks planned for the day ahead and most importantly get the kettle on for the lads.

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

There are five in our team, including myself. I’m sure many course managers would say they’d like more staff and I am no different. We do have an artisan section which was introduced to the club last season to great effect. We have eight artisans in all, who voluntarily offer up to 100 hours per season. These heroes undertake some of the remedial works which can get overlooked during our busy periods.

Do you share tasks?

Absolutely – I am a big believer that this is vital in personal development.

How do you motivate your colleagues?

I do like to give each member of staff some terms of responsibility, no matter their position, age or ability. This could include something like a few days of leading tasks. They seem to enjoy this approach and I feel this provides a good insight into what course management involves for those that wish to become head greenkeepers.

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

Summer without doubt – knowing better weather is on the way is what makes the winters somewhat bearable.

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

Attention to detail. The finest touch to even a minor task can make a world of difference.

And what part of it gives you the least satisfaction?

Un-repaired pitch marks. There’s simply no need and it’s completely avoidable. Professionals on the television repair their own, yet this is a trait that amateurs do not seem to follow suit on.

Have you attended any courses recently?

I am constantly looking out for education days. The most recent course I attended was at BTME 2018, a seminar entitled ‘dealing with difficult people and situations’. This was a superb seminar and one that I wish I had attended 10 years ago before I began my career in management.

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

For the past few seasons I have been a big fan of the Johnsons Sports Seed range, in particular the ProNitro range. We have achieved huge success during maintenance periods and recent overseeding with the J Nitro All Bent mixture. I feel they are forever innovating and improving, bringing new cultivars to the market and I am extremely confident in the success rate we are achieving with the Johnsons’ range. I know DLF / Johnsons, together with my local distributor MR Amenity, are at the end of the phone if I need them, which is always reassuring.

How would you improve the greenkeeping industry?

I would like to see the television / broadcasting channels pay more attention, and give more airtime to, the greenkeeping profession – giving the turfies more exposure that they deserve!

Has a golfer ever deliberately directed a ball at you?

Two swollen knees later… I’ll still say no.

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

A few strange rescues with staff taking matters into their own hands, but no golfer mishaps to date.

Are you seeing any evidence of climate change?

This was evident about five or six years ago. Seasons have changed, they seem to merge into each other and we do suffer ‘extremes’ in each season. I feel the summers are warmer, winters are colder, rainfall is heavier and this can all come in the same calendar month. This year has started the same as most and I can only see the weather giving us more headaches in the future…

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

We have various log piles and hibernacula in and around the course to house a variety of animals. I find foxes amazing animals, they are so interesting to follow and understand. I’m not much of a bird watcher yet but we do have some extremely attractive robins, starlings and tits that reside at our course.

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

Put yourself out there. Offer yourself to education workshops, seminars and get involved in any networking opportunities you can. Volunteer for any major support teams you can where you’ll not only learn more, you’ll make friends for life.

How do you spend your leisure time?

I spend most of my leisure time with the family. I have two young girls who are both under five years old, who take great pleasure in keeping me on my toes. I also enjoy running and playing golf when I get the time.


By Alistair September 27, 2018 09:07 Updated

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