A Day in the Life of… A GREENKEEPER

Gill Sherry

Ian Campbell began his career as an apprentice greenkeeper at Turnberry Golf Course. From there he spent nine years at Maybole working on both the bowling green and the golf course. He was then greenkeeper at Belleisle Golf Course for five years before moving into general grounds maintenance. He later became the UK Director of Operations for ISS Facility Services Landscaping until retiring at the age of 60. He is now one of three greenkeepers at Maidens Bowling Club where he thought he would “cut the grass for a wee while”.

I caught up with Ian on a sunny spring morning in April to ask him about his greenkeeping career.

How long have you been a greenkeeper?
All my life!

What training did you need to do?
I did two years City & Guilds at Woodburn House College at Rutherglen, Glasgow on a day-release from Turnberry. It was a three-year apprenticeship with two years at college.

What do you like best about being a greenkeeper?
The fresh air and being outside. And there’s nothing better than the green looking good and people coming in and saying “It’s looking great!”. That’s brilliant, it gives you a high.

Do you dislike anything about your job?
People moaning at me! “The green’s bumpy” or “The green’s slow”. Spring is always a difficult time of the year because some of the grass is still hiding.

How many hours a week do you dedicate to greenkeeping?
Two hours a day, so 14 hours a week.

What time does your working day usually start?
8.30am to 10.30am are my usual hours.

Can you briefly describe what a typical shift involves?
I’ll open up, then I’ll swish the worm casts away so we’re not mowing over them with the mower. If the green’s wet we’ll brush it first to try and dry it off, leave it maybe half an hour, and then start cutting. Anything’s better than a wet cut. Keep it as dry as possible, that’s the secret.

One piece of advice for someone looking to become a greenkeeper?
Don’t be frightened of cold weather, because if it’s not cold, it’s going to be cold! And keep the grass as hungry as possible. That means you’ll get a good, fast surface.

What would you be if you weren’t a greenkeeper?
Maybe a plumber or an electrician. I wasn’t bad at joinery at school, so definitely a tradesman of some sort.

Career highlight so far?
We had the Ladies World Championship at Northfield. I was manager for Mitchel & Struthers at the time and helped the guys at Northfield a lot with that. That was a big highlight.

If you had to sum up your job in one word, what would it be?
Frustrating! When the sun’s shining it’s absolutely brilliant but when it’s raining… that’s the down side.