Life on the Links as a seasonal greenkeeper

In April, we welcomed the new seasonal staff to our greenkeeping department here at the Links. For over 16 years we have been providing the opportunity for individuals to be part of our seasonal programme and experience working at the Home of Golf. Each year from April to October, over 30 seasonal staff join our four greenkeeping teams.

We have welcomed seasonal employees from all over the world including:

  • Ireland, Wales, France, Iceland, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Estonia, Latvia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Slovakia, India, Nepal, China, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, USA, Canada and Argentina!

We also encourage home grown talent too, often employing students from local greenkeeping colleges and universities.

The role of a seasonal greenkeeper is varied. Tasks include mowing all playing surfaces, assisting in the preparation and setting of machinery and general course set up. Just as important as the practical responsibilities are the personal qualities brought to the role. We look for a willingness to learn, a strong work ethic with excellent attention to detail and a proactive attitude.

Above all, we need all our staff to be passionate about their part in delivering memorable experiences for every visitor to the Home of Golf.

The first stage for all new seasonal employees is an official induction. There are a few elements to this including a focused look at St Andrews Links; who we are as a business and what we do. Specific to the role, we discuss a number of things such as tournament preparation, our recycling and environmental practices and risks/hazards associated with the job.

It’s then time to get down to business familiarising the new recruits with their surroundings on the courses, focusing on work routines and the start of machinery/task training. All training is delivered by certified members of staff.

Main objectives:

  • Ensure a good understanding of the machinery, risk assessments, safe working practices and standard operational procedures.
  • The individual will use the machines and carry out the tasks in a safe and professional manner.

All seasonal staff’s competency with machinery and performing tasks is assessed throughout their season. Every second month they will have an evaluation meeting where we discuss their progress and set objectives.

Phil Hind, Course Supervisor (New & Jubilee Courses) assessing one of this year’s seasonal staff on our training green.

Over the season, we provide many opportunities focusing on development including;

  • Tournament set up experience for our annual events.
  • Educational seminars. This season we have presenters including Richard Windows; Agronomist, Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) and David Greenshields; Amenity Product Manager, Barenbrug Seed Company.
  • Being involved in an agronomist’s assessment of the courses (STRI visit), learning performance testing.
  • Assisting with environmental projects.
  • Site visits to the R&A Test Centre at Kingsbarns, R&A Clubhouse, British Golf Museum, golf at Kingarrock Hickory Golf Course and course visits.

First presentation this year from Richard Windows explaining the changes in greenkeeping over the last 10 years, managing plant stress and discussing climate/sociological change.

Talk by Golf Experience Manager and Course Manger at Kingarrock Hickory Golf learning all about golf’s history and maintenance practices. 

Last year’s New & Jubilee seasonal staff golf outing to Kingarrock Hickory Golf Course.

Course walk at Carnoustie Golf Links last year with Craig Boath (Course Manager, Championship Course) explaining his team’s preparations for this year’s Open Championship.

One of the most rewarding parts of my job is seeing the progression of past seasonal staff, some of whom have gone on to become Course Managers and even Course Directors of respected clubs. Learning how valuable their experience at St Andrews Links was and how much it contributed to their progression in the industry is particularly inspiring and motivating.

Words by Gavin Neill, Deputy Course Manager – New and Jubilee Courses

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