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One-in-three greenkeepers looking for work outside of golf – BIGGA releases results of major survey that details life at the UK’s golf facilities in 2022
The British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) has issued the results of a major industry survey, with some of the findings representing a stark warning to the golfing industry.
More than 1,300 members of BIGGA, representing golf clubs across the United Kingdom, responded to the survey, which asked them to provide details of working conditions at their facilities, in addition to commenting on their job satisfaction.
With talk of difficulties regarding the recruitment and retention of staff common, BIGGA undertook the survey to gain solid evidence of the challenges at UK golf clubs, and the results have raised a number of concerns.
Although 56% of respondents said they were happy working within the greenkeeping profession, 35% admitted they were currently looking for opportunities outside the industry.
With regard to issues of recruitment, 53% are running with teams at less than full strength, while 83.5% said they struggle to recruit new staff.
The boom in golf that followed the coronavirus lockdowns in the past two years has translated to a general increase in staffing numbers, with golf clubs having on average one extra full time greenkeeper compared to the previous poll in 2019.
However, investment in staff welfare facilities hasn’t materialised, with, for example, only one in five facilities offering single sex changing facilities and toilets for female team members. Despite increased reliance on technology, nearly half of clubs don’t provide internet connectivity within the greenkeeping facility.
Further details and a results breakdown is available on the BIGGA website at: https://www.bigga.org.uk/news-listing/greenkeepers-bigga-workforce-survey.html
BIGGA CEO Jim Croxton said: “I’m pleased to be able to present robust data to the wider golfing industry that lays bare some fairly frightening statistics on the challenges that exist within our profession.
“We know anecdotally that there are major challenges regarding the recruitment and retention of staff and also that pay, conditions and welfare are major contributors, but to see in black and white that nearly 35% of greenkeepers are looking for work outside the industry is truly a concern.
“Equally, finding out that only one in five facilities are equipped for female staff members shows that the sport’s laudable ambitions to improve equality and diversity are not translating into our side of the game.
“But the key question is what does the game of golf does with this information? It is widely known that there is currently a general challenge in recruiting and retaining staff across society. In order to continue functioning, many sectors have responded with significant pay increases and improvement in working conditions. Golf requires an integrated approach by the entire sport to overcome the challenges laid out by this survey. This approach will need to clearly lay out the challenges, create targets and devise plans to achieve our ambitions.”
New Syngenta Turf App puts essential information in your hand
The new Syngenta Turf App now includes a host of added features to help with everyday turf management decisions and enhance long-term planning.
Features for the new Syngenta Turf App include:
- Disease & Pest ID Guide
- Treatment recommendations
- Product information
- Tank-mix calculator
- Application records
- Support contacts
Launching the new Syngenta Turf App at the Turf Science Live event (8 July), the company’s Commercial Head for UK and Europe North West, Daniel Lightfoot, said: “It’s incredibly valuable to have all the information required to help make key management decisions readily to hand wherever you are.
“From a practical course managers perspective, the Turf App is a hugely beneficial tool for all spray applications and turf management decisions.”
A new Disease & Pest ID Guide provide a clear pictorial view of what to look out for, along with management notes of where and when problems are most likely to occur. It includes an in-depth strategy for the optimum Integrated Turf Management approach to each pest and disease.
Coupled to the ID Guide, users can simply select the target disease or pest for a full list of approved Syngenta control products.
Within each of the product listings, there are full details of statutory labels, safety data sheets and technical guides, to ensure operators are always fully compliant with the latest regulatory information on product use.
“It ensures operators always have access to the most up-to-date information instantly in their hand, wherever they are working,” reported Daniel. “The labels displayed on your phone are always clean and uncontaminated, compared to potentially handling old labels on part-used bottles in the store.”
Application records created in the Turf App enable full spray records to be quickly and simply created. Users can now add any company’s products into the system, including fertilisers and biocontrols, for example. Once any product details have been added, they remain available for future addition or reference.
“Course managers or agronomists can create spray recommendations using the Turf App that can be emailed to sprayer operators or contractors. That eliminates the chance of error from misreading hand-written sheets or instructions,” he advised.
Operators can also access information and update details of any application direct, if they are logged into the course account.
One-time registration enables users to input all their facility details, spray areas, equipment and operators – which can be instantly imported into spray records – making them quick and accurate to complete.
The app’s innovative Tank-mix Calculator will help operators complete the applications efficiently and accurately, by providing the amount of any products required to spray a given area and the appropriate water volume, along with advice on nozzle selection and sprayer set up.
“The fact that the spray records retained in the Turf App are allied to the label and product information within the system, alleviates the need to keep paper copies of labels in the office and ensures they are legally compliant.
“Digital tools have made a huge advance in supporting the skills and experience of turf managers,” highlighted Daniel. “Once you start to couple together the Turf App, with tools such as WeatherPro forecasting and the Primo Maxx II Growing Degree Day Calculator, for example, it creates a really powerful and practical integrated decision support package,” he added.
The new Syngenta Turf App is available free to download from the iStore or GooglePlay for Apple or android phone and tablet devices.
For more information visit www.syngentaturf.co.uk
St Andrews- The Greenkeeper’s Tale
Forward-thinking Golf Architects Sign Historic Pledge
Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, the Icelandic Minister of the Environment, Energy and Climate, gave the welcoming address.
Approximately 100 delegates from 25 locations in 19 countries across four continents gathered to hear experts explore the main trends in climate change, the impacts on golf, and the practical implications for golf course design and development. The focus was on the practicalities of the challenges for golf to be net zero, and delegates left with a greater understanding of what stepping forward as leaders in climate action entails.
The Conference closed with the Presidents of EIGCA, ASGCA and SAGCA signing a pledge to strengthen their commitment towards climate action, on behalf of their respective members.
Tim Lobb, EIGCA President, says: “We chose Iceland for our Conference as it is one of the most forward-thinking countries on climate change. Sustainability and stewardship of the environment are key considerations in golf course design and as an Institute we believe it is important to create a pathway for golf to achieve net zero emissions through how golf courses are designed and developed.
“We are grateful for the support of our Gold Partners, Rain Bird and Toro, for jointly funding with EIGCA the offsetting of unavoidable emissions associated with this event. We look forward to working with them, and GEO, on future initiatives as part of EIGCA’s contribution to help golf achieve net zero emissions in the future.
ASGCA President Jason Straka says: “I was thrilled to attend the conference and annual meeting in Iceland which covered many topics regarding climate change and how we as professional golf course architects can help to address it. I signed the pledge on behalf of ASGCA and our members, who continue our ongoing commitment towards climate action through conscientious design.”
Harley Kruse, SAGCA President, says: “Climate change is evident across the golfing landscape of Australia. The Australian continent is historically one of drought, floods, storms, and bush fires, but now a place where abnormal weather is perhaps becoming normal. SAGCA is very happy to sign this pledge and commit to encouraging and supporting the Australian golf course architecture community to increase their knowledge and understanding of climate adaption in design.”
In line with EIGCA’s commitment to establish leadership in the golf conference sector, and show how meaningful steps can be made towards net zero emissions, efforts were made to reduce emissions wherever possible. These included:
- Conference Hotel – the Grand Hotel Reykjavík is the only hotel in Reykjavík to conform to the Nordic Eco-labelling criteria for hotels, and also has a Gold Class environmental rating from Vakinn
- Ground Transportation – coaches for transporting delegates between venues and golf courses were provided by the first bus company to carbon balance the driving of their fleet
- Food – vegetarian and vegan food options were available
- Delegate Name Badges – made from 100% recycled board and are 100% recyclable
- Lanyards – made from RPET (recycled plastic bottles) and are recyclable
- Tee Amnesty – for every one plastic tee surrendered, four (4) sustainable bamboo tees were given in exchange to participants in the EIGCA President’s Cup at Brautarholt and Keilir Golf Clubs (Keilir Golf Club has been GEO Certified© for 8 years)
- Offsetting – GEO established highly credible and impactful international offsetting, covering the flights taken by the delegates, their accommodation, meals and ground transportation. The price chosen for offsetting was set at a high level (UK and EU recommended carbon price), with the cost financed by a joint sponsorship between EIGCA and Gold Partners, Rain Bird and Toro.
Rain Bird Rotors for Community Putting Green at Marlay Park
Rain Bird has donated a number of Rain Bird 950 Series rotors, suitable nozzles and adaptors for irrigating the new Marlay Park Putting Green in Dublin, Ireland, opening later this summer.
This brand-new community facility is located in a suburban public park five miles from the centre of Dublin, close to where Pádraig Harrington grew up and lives today. Inspired by his lifelong desire to introduce the game to people of all ages and backgrounds, the new 3,000 square metre green provides a setting where children and families can meet.
The project is being funded by the Pádraig Harrington Charitable Foundation with a golf development grant from the R&A and a grant from Golf Ireland, supported by Sport Ireland’s special projects scheme. Constructed by Atlantic Golf Construction in an ecologically sustainable way in partnership with Turfgrass and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, many other organisations and businesses in the industry have also supported the project.
“We are delighted that Rain Bird has supported Pádraig’s Marlay Park project,” said Julian Mooney, Director of Agronomy at Turfgrass. “It is important to us to work with partners who not only share our commitment to water conservation and the environment but also support our mission to consistently deliver best-in-class playing conditions”.
Pádraig assisted in the design of the putting green, making numerous site visits during construction. Born in Dublin, the three-time major champion is one of the world’s top golfers with a career total of 31 victories around the world. He continues to compete at the elite level and achieved the great distinction of been appointed Captain of the European team for the 2020 Ryder Cup, which took place at Whistling Straits last year.
Pádraig established the Pádraig Harrington Charitable Foundation in 2004 to provide financial assistance to deserving beneficiaries throughout Ireland and the rest of the world.
Campey Celebrates Official Opening of New Bosley Branch
“This new branch will play a significant role for us as we grow into the new areas of agriculture, horticulture and professional landscaping. We’re looking forward to welcoming customers to the show room in the coming months and taking Campey forward.”
An auction and raffle was held on the day, which raised £1,290 for The Christie Charity, which provides enhanced services over and above what the NHS funds. This includes continued funding for a number of services throughout the hospital, including the cancer information centre, wig fitting service, art room and complementary therapy. Prizes were kindly donated by New Holland, Trimax Mowers, Vredo, Bellon Mit and Dennis Sisis.
Campey Bosley is open Monday to Friday from 8.30am-4.30pm, with Campey’s team of experts on hand to give advice and answer any questions.