A day in the life: Paul Staples

By Alistair December 23, 2018 14:18 Updated

Paul is the head greenkeeper at Broadstone Golf Club in Dorset. The venue consistently features in top 100 lists of UK golf courses

What time do you arrive at the club?

I usually arrive around 5:30am.

Can you describe your morning routine?

My morning routine actually starts on a Sunday, where I will liaise with my deputy and organise the jobs for the forthcoming week. I will then text him every evening with the jobs for the next day. He will then add the jobs on to Turfkeeper, our software system which is linked to a TV in the messroom. I feel this saves a lot of time on not having to talk to each member of staff individually about their tasks for the morning or day ahead. This then leaves me to do course updates, check emails, speak to staff and have my 10 minute meeting with Matt, my deputy.

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

I have nine staff at present, eight full-time and one part-time. If I’m being honest, we can produce a great course with this amount of staff, but there would always be something else I could do if I had more.

Do you share tasks?

I feel the sharing of tasks is important – it means that all staff can use all machines, and that they all know the cutting lines for different areas of the course. The only time I will have the same member of staff on one specific job is when disease is about so that they can then see any change day by day.

How do you motivate your colleagues?

I find team events are essential. We have football matches, go go-karting, play golf and enjoy going to watch one of the lads who is a semi-pro footballer (which also usually involves a beer and snooker in the clubhouse!) I also have an achievement wall in the messroom, to display some of the great work they have all accomplished.

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

The spring – the course comes alive from the winter; the greens’ staff begin to cheer up and I know that we are en-route to another great season of golf at Broadstone.

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

Since I took over, we have had numerous reviews and have climbed in many of the top 100 tables, including being ranked as the number one course in Dorset. This is what makes me want to come in every day. I know it’s a members’ course, but for us it’s seeing the course improve daily and climbing the rankings.

And what part of it gives you the least satisfaction?

Disease – this is the main reason we embarked on a grass conversion programme on our greens. I hate having to waste silly money on fungicide, when we can move over to sustainable grasses that were around a few years ago.

Have you attended any courses recently?

I haven’t unfortunately. The past 18 months I have been concentrating on my new position and building a strong relationship with my team and new deputy head, Matt Clarke. I will endeavour to go on courses again very soon and am always looking out for the right ones for me or my staff.

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

On the greens we are currently overseeding with Johnsons J All Bent. We have had some great results over the past two years and will be also adding in some fescue next season. We currently use J Fescue on the tees, which we have had great results from divoting mixed with our 50/50 Fenn soil. We also overseed once a year with it, with great results. Our fairway is the same programme as that on the tees, without the yearly overseed.

How would you improve the greenkeeping industry?

I feel there are too many ‘clicks’ in the industry, too many so-called ‘big names’. When the Broadstone job came up and I was deputy, I thought I had no chance as there were so many big names being thrown about. I applied nonetheless, went through a very tough interview process and was successful.

Has a golfer ever deliberately directed a ball at you?


Are you seeing any evidence of climate change?

Ihis summer I guess is the biggest example of climate change for me. We have coped very well here but I feel it will only get harder. I think we need to look at getting the correct grasses on to our courses to be able to cope with the hot dry summers, and possibly consider aerating right through the winter to help disperse of the higher rainfall.

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

We only have a small lake, but on the odd occasion we have to fish an electric trolley out of it! Fortunately, no machines yet.

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

We have a large variety of animals on the course such as deer, foxes, badgers, snakes including adders, smooth snakes and grass snakes, birds of prey including buzzards, kestrels and hobbys, and lizards including sand, common and slow worm. One of our guys, Alex, works very closely monitoring the wildlife around the course.

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

From day one be punctual, never be afraid to ask questions and never feel intimidated by others. Anytime you get a chance to use a machine, always do – I always did and it helped my confidence to grow very quickly.

How do you spend your leisure time?

Spending time with my family, walking my dogs and supporting the greatest team on the south coast, Southampton!

I also play a bit of golf with my 12 year-old which will stop once he starts beating me!


By Alistair December 23, 2018 14:18 Updated

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