Saturday, 25 March 2017

Educating Stoneham

Hi All,
No it's not a new TV series on Channel 4 but a play on the words of the famous Educating Yorkshire TV series if you didn't know. 

I wanted to do a blog about some of the stuff that's been going on, off the course. 

One of my big beliefs is staff training. This not only gives the team the knowledge to carry out their work to high professional standard and keeps us all updated on the latest methods or legislation. It also develops staff and gives them careers. Wouldn't it be great if in years to come our team now were all managing golf courses and they said we were trained at Stoneham!

So what kind of training have we been doing? 
Do we really need to train to be grass cutters who get in the way... Well yes is the answer :-) 

The modern greenkeeper needs to be a Scientist, Environmentalist, Agronomist, Arborist, Mechanic, Irrigation Engineer, Accountant, PR Officer, Manager and an Artist with the canvas being the golf course. 

So what have we been doing? 

Firstly, we have our first member of staff since I arrived pass his formal qualification. Congratulations to Steve Jones on getting his City And Guilds Level 2 Diploma in Greenkeeping. 

We still have four more members of staff involved in college at present with two more just about to start. 
Graham Hastie and Levi Pethick are nearing the end of their two year course, while Mike Ray and Matthew Moules have just enrolled on their apprenticeships. Rob Patrick and Paul Martin are next up in the coming months as they look to start their level 3 qualification. 

We just recently received some great news that Graham and Levi had both been nominated for the Student Greenkeeper of the year Award. This is one of the highest awards in our industry. My previous deputy won this in 2014 and so did a young Murray Long. The winner gets the chance to go and study at the Winter Turf School in the USA. First they both must get through the gruelling interviews to get to the national final. A massive congratulations goes out to them. 

Again this year we had eight members of the team attend BTME (BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition) which is the national conference for Greenkeeping in Harrogate with thousands of greenkeepers attending every year. 

Talks on soil biology, management, chemical usage, heathland, woodland management and a talk from all the Course Managers from the Ryder Cup course past & future plus many more were attended. 

I was lucky enough to be asked to Present again this year meaning we all returned inspired for the year ahead with better knowledge.

On the final night myself, Graham and Murray Long attended the prestigious Golf Environmental Awards after we made the national final. Unfortunately we didn't win our category as this went to Frilford Heath who have been doing this for 25 years but the night was very emotional as people shared their passion for the environment and they are making this better through golf. A lot of people don't realise what goes on at many golf clubs and how these spaces are fantastic havens for wildlife. 

In February we attended (half the team to one day, half the team the second day) two more Section conferences. These were held in London at Oaklands College (where the team college is based) and the South Coast section which was held at Salisbury and South Wilts GC. Both were very well attended with 180 and 80 greenkeepers respectively. 

The seminars covered Soil science and Sustainability, the future of Golf, improving irrigation systems plus talks from The Bucks golf club on there renovation of the site and the Grove holding the British Masters. 

I was also honoured to be asked to talk at these events following the one I done back in December for the Sussex Greenkeepers which had 50 attend. My subject was obviously 'Stoneham the story so far' which basically covered all the works we have been doing here at Stoneham, from working the surfaces, to building welfare blocks right up to the bunker project. 
We had some excellent feed back and doing all three talks has really helped to raise the profile in our industry. 

Back at Stoneham we were also getting more training in during wet and cold winter month of February. 
This included Health and Safety training from John Ross. 

The subjects included fire warden training, Manual Handling and Health and safety in each department of the club. 

At the end of February we had our Toro training. This included Sprayer training for the guys who don't use our new sprayer and operator training for all the other Toro equipment. The guys have been users of the equipment for a long time but we have no evidence of training so a quick refresher course and certificate help us to prove competence. 

Lastly, in our winter of training. 
The FTMI (Future Turf Managers Initiative). This is a three day event set up by BIGGA and held in Ipswich at the Ransomes Jacobsen factory (Machinery manufacturer). 

FTMI gets 20 of the up and coming Greenkeepers in our industry every year and gives them management training to help them move up the ladder and secure the Course Managers job. 
The talks include becoming a leader, budgeting, crucial conversations, interview techniques, a factory tour and much more. They also have four Course Managers from across the U.K. as 'Mentors'. 

I have been fortunate to be asked to be a Mentor for the last five years since it started along with some excellent guys in the industry including Course Managers from Loch Lomond, Gleneagles, G West, RAC, Royal Cinque Ports. 
James Bledge Course Manager from RCP was one of the new mentors this having come full circle as he was one of our Students in the class 2013. This was really pleasing to see. 
I enjoyed being part of this process again I find it very rewarding and I learn a lot from the guest speakers, the students and the other mentors. 

All the staff are collecting CPD points (Continuing Professional Development) with BIGGA as a way of showing their development. There aim is to go through Active, Approved to Milestone statuses in a three year cycle. I just want to say well done to the team on this subject and keep it going! 

I felt it was important to write this blog to document all that's going on behind the scenes and because I am a strong believer in education. Remember the next time you see a Greenkeeper there is more to it other than grass cutting! 


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