The Life of a Modern Day Greenkeeper - Carr Golf Services

The Life of a Modern Day Greenkeeper

Gary Duffy is acting Course Manager at Blainroe Golf Club since September 2020 and has worked within the Maintenance Division of Carr Golf as a Course Manager and Head Green Keeper since January 2018. On May 28th 2021, he documented a day in the life to give us an idea of the work that goes into the picturesque Co. Wicklow course.

My alarm starts its daily disturbance ritual at 4.40am and I’m out of the house by 5.00am with a travel mug of tea in-hand (two tea bags of course). A podcast, anything from Blindboy Boatclub to David McWilliams can be my usual soundtrack on my commute to work, and today it is the latter which ends just as I arrive to work at 5.50am.

Tony Redmond, the First Assistant at Blainroe Golf Club has arrived before me and has everything open and ready to go. Tony and I consulted on our weekly plan last night and clarified what exactly is required today in advance of the weekend. The plan is written up on the whiteboard however this is in the canteen and is only used to support communication at the moment. In these days of Covid, we now host the morning briefing outside at the entrance to the sheds and ensure it is safe for all partaking.

The daily tasks are allocated to each member of the team, which in addition to Tony and I, includes Wayne, Dale & Anthony. We have a tight team of 5 but I am fortunate that all are great workers and skilled green keepers making my role as Course Manager much easier and really rewarding. Some of the tasks assigned require a more detailed briefing which I do before the machinery checks start.

There is nothing worse than coming to work and do the exact same task day in day out so, the jobs are rotated across the team to ensure there is variety and freshness in everyone’s work. Some tasks are better than others too so rotating these means fairness across the team.

This morning I am mowing greens and begin the process of checking over my John Deere 2500. Oil and tyre pressure are checked and then I set the mower on cut. This is a critical part of ensuring quality of cut and we use paper to make sure there is clean contact between the blades and bottom blade which should cut the paper easily. Each of the three units are checked in three places and adjustments made where necessary.

I am fortunate to be working at Blainroe Golf Club and even on a damp morning such as this morning, the views out across the Irish Sea and up and down the Wicklow coastline are a joy to behold. Not only are the views spectacular but the course has a great lay out designed by the revered Martin Hawtree. I really believe it has the potential to be amongst the best courses in Ireland.

Paul Rourke, Assistant Regional Superintendent with Carr Golf is visiting this morning to complete the monthly testing and review of the operation. While we are busy preparing the golf course, Paul is going about his business reviewing the three holes at Blainroe Golf Club which form the basis of this particular report are the 1st, 4th & 14th. These three holes provide a good representation of the three different areas on the golf course.

I meet Paul on the 14th green while mowing and stop for a quick chat to review the key data he has gathered so far. The average green speed on this moist morning is 9.3ft while firmness is measuring 87.4 gravities, smoothness 30.2, trueness 10.1, NDVI .78 & moisture 37.9%. The majority of these performance measures are within the target range and towards the upper end of the range which is positive. Moisture levels are higher than desired however we have had quite an amount of rain in the previous 24 hours so not all-together surprising.

Once if I finish mowing the greens, the machine is washed down, greased, and readied for mowing at the weekend. I then join Paul again to review the treatment schedule for the past month and the rest of his report. Overall, the course has a KPI score of 82% which I am satisfied with and is a continuation of the improvement and momentum gained over recent weeks and the past year. The treatment review flagged additional and unscheduled applications of a foliar to greens and tees which was agreed between the Regional Superintendent and I during one of his visits. It was felt at the time that the areas would benefit from an extra application as the weather conditions and in particular temperatures in May fell below the norm and these areas were not thriving as much as they should.

Once Paul leaves, I begin the process of planning for the following week and allocating the tasks required of each team member for the following seven days. Planning like this in advance makes it much easier to organise myself each day and ensures I have captured everything that needs to be completed in a structured way. The templates provided by the Company are a great tool and support, making the process much easier to complete.  I then input the daily tasks performed by the team today into our IT system so that data is available to management and others.

It is now time for home. Additional hours were a familiar part of the role however I am trying to follow Marty Carr’s advice; “work smarter, not harder”. I leave the Club and an hour later I am home with family and an over excited springer spaniel who is ready for his daily walk.