Name: Matt Robbins
How do you prepare your course?
During the winter, the course is shortened by moving the tees forward on to winter tees. The height of cut is raised on fairways, tees and greens, with tees at 13mm, greens 5mm and fairways 19mm.
In the summer, the tees are all moved back creating the maximum length possible. Greens are cut at 3mm, tees 10mm and fairways at 15mm. Whether it is summer or winter, we always use grass tees and play on proper greens – never winter greens.
How does that change in different seasons?
During the summer, the majority of our time is spent cutting and presenting the course to the highest standard possible. The winter is when we go about course improvements for the coming season like bunker renovation, tree surgery where necessary, drainage work and path work.
We also find winter is the best time to do our major aeration work, hollow-tining greens and tees BIGGA are sending a team of greenkeepers to The Grove to help prepare the course for the British Masters in October.
The association work alongside the R&A and the European Tour to provide a team of volunteers each year for The Open and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
With the return of the British Masters in 2015 at Woburn, a team of BIGGA members were also sent by the association to work at that event.
This year they will be on hand to assist course manager Phil Chiverton and his team at the tournament, which is being hosted by Luke Donald (right). BIGGA team set to be right in The Grove at the British Masters and slitting the fairways.
What are the biggest challenges at your course?
With the ever-changing climate, it’s getting harder to present the course to the standard we or the golfer expects during the winter months.
Warmer, wetter winters create more growth which, in turn, makes it almost impossible to get machinery out on to the course.
We have also seen an increase in disease which means we have had to use more fungicide than we would prefer, which obviously comes at a cost and is also not great for the environment.
How has greenkeeping changed since you began in the profession?
The golfer expects more now than they maybe did when I first started in greenkeeping. With plenty of golf TV coverage pretty much 12 months a year, golfers expect the course to be in the same condition in December as they do in June. And, as already mentioned, with the ever changing climate this is close on impossible.
What’s your favourite part of being a greenkeeper?
It has to be the summer and presenting the golf course in its best possible condition, which makes both greenkeepers and golfers happy.