As you look forward to another 18 at your club, spare a thought for the beleaguered golf course manager, says Scott MacCallum

What does a golf course manager do? By Scott MacCallum

You’re running late as you turn into the car park and see the rest of your fourball warming up on the tee. Climbing out of your car you stand on a piece of chewing gum which glues itself to the sole of your brand new Pikolinos. Typical!

As you rush to the tee, steam pouring from your ears, you notice “what’s-his-name”, the course manager, standing half way down the 18th, talking to a man in a suit. It’s only the fact it’s your turn to play that prevents you from charging over to give him a piece of your mind.

Perhaps that is just as well, because what you had no way of knowing is that the man in the suit works for the Environment Agency and your course manager is deep in conversation with him regarding the renewal of an abstraction licence for the borehole, which gives access to water from the underground aquifer, which provides the irrigation water for the course.

With water becoming increasingly precious and golf seen as a luxury, those negotiations can be delicate and it is only the expertise of your course manager, who can detail exactly how much water has been used during the past and how much is recycled, that will improve the chances of a settlement that doesn’t do long term damage to the golf course. You blundering in and complaining about chewing gum in the car park wouldn’t have helped the cause.

But your course manager could just as easily have been conducting a risk assessment of the entire site, identifying every single area which could constitute a risk in any conceivable circumstance – gradient of slope used by a triple mower or buggy, slip hazards leading off the greens or tees, secure nature of trees etc – so that when the Health and Safety Executive calls the documentation is filed and ready for inspection.

Related: what does an agronomist do?

Or he could be discussing the five-year course policy document with your chairman of greens and the club’s appointed agronomist, which helps ensure that there are none of those knee-jerk changes in direction when a new captain or committee takes over.

Or he could be hosting an educational workshop, subsidised by his professional association, BIGGA (the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association), which utilises funding provided by trade companies. Employers need to recognise that education and training is an on-going, non-stop process. Remember, if you are part of a members’ golf club, then you are actually the employer and the responsibility and funding for staff training should in fact fall to you and not be down to the employee’s own association.

He might also be taking time out to help the rest of his team on the golf course – cutting greens, tees and fairways, repairing divots and raking bunkers at 5.30am.

Your course manager is responsible for ensuring that the club’s greatest asset, the 
course itself, is kept in top order and even enhanced when he is given the resources to do the job, in conditions which provide drought one year and flooding the next.

Related: what makes the perfect green?

Sure, among his responsibilities is maintenance of the car park but would you storm in and complain to the bank manager if one of the pens on the counter was out of ink? Let’s face it, if the chewing gum was moist enough to stick to your shoe, it hadn’t been there long had it? If you feel it appropriate, mention it to the course manager in passing or raise it with the greens committee. I’m sure if cleanliness of the car park has fallen below an acceptable level then it won’t be long before the pressure washers will be out to clean it up.

In return it would be nice if you could at least learn your course manager’s name!