Simon Olver, course manager at Ganton, on building connections, sharing knowledge and the power of bringing together the greenkeeping profession
One of the many benefits of my career in greenkeeping has been the opportunity to build connections in the industry. Now we’re back to relative normality, it’s important to get back to maintaining our friendships and partnerships, and forging new ones.
I’ve been fortunate to get to know a lot of great people in the industry in my career, many of them now friends as well as contemporaries. Social media has been a huge part of this and being able to make contacts and stay connected has been incredibly rewarding. In my experience, greenkeepers love to share what they’re doing and help each other. So first up, make some new online connections and check up on old ones – and be sure to like and comment on what’s going on as a little bit of support always goes a long way.
I’ve also always been an active member of BIGGA [the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association] throughout my career. BIGGA’s events – from the big national conference to local meetings and golf days – are fantastic for making contacts and friends in the industry. As well as offering the chance to meet greenkeepers from clubs in your area, these events are a chance to share experiences and knowledge, and open the door to forge personal friendships.
The next important bit is to get out to some tournaments. I’ve been lucky enough to build friendships with greenkeepers at some incredible venues and being able to work with their home team at events like the British Masters and Open Championship was fantastic. The weeks are intense, but the chance to spend time with people at the very top of their game is well worth the effort.
I’ve learned a great deal about the best of the best in our industry at tournaments. The calmness shown by course managers in incredibly stressful moments was an important lesson for me, as was the ability to lift large and diverse teams to deliver in tough conditions. Whether you go home and host a tour event is irrelevant, you can always apply what the very best are doing to your own situation.
It’s equally important to visit smaller clubs than your own, talk to the greenkeepers and see how they do things differently. It can be a great learning experience for those who are accustomed to large teams and bigger budgets to see what can be achieved at these clubs.
Having put travelling and connecting face-to-face largely on hold for two years, it’s important we get out and about again. Whether you’re visiting clubs in your area to have coffee or a beer and talk about a project or lending a hand at a tournament, get out there and build those relationships again. Greenkeepers are a close-knit group – we share a passion for golf and tackle the same challenges whether we’re in a team of two or 20. Pick up the phone, drop a fellow greenkeeper a message, or head along to your next local get-together and be an active member of our diverse and supportive network.