Published onSeptember 9 2019
Recently we caught up with John Gubb, Greenkeeper and Course Manager at Bedfordshire Golf Club.
John answered our questions on why he became a Greenkeeper, his career so far, and explained how he made the cut as a top Greenkeeper.
What made you choose a career in Greenkeeping?
I knew I wanted to work outside once I had finished college, and I enjoyed sport. In sixth form, my sports lecturer and careers adviser, who was also a committee member at my local golf club, informed me that a position was available on the greenkeeping team; I started working there a week after I finished college.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I like to see the golf course take shape as the seasons change throughout the year. I have been at Bedfordshire Golf Club since it relocated to its present site in 2000. I’ve witnessed it mature into the course it is today; and seen all the hard work the greenkeeping team put into it on a daily basis.
I also enjoy helping the team progress in their chosen career and learning all the different practices required to maintain a golf course, including all the build up to and then hosting the many different events we host during the season. Also seeing the members of the club happy about the condition of their golf course really makes the entire team very proud that all their hard work is appreciated.
What experience did you have before you started in this role?
I had completed my Level 2 in Greenkeeping and undertook my Safe Use of Pesticides, Boom Sprayer and Hand Held Pesticide Application Equipment qualifications whilst completing my apprenticeship at Ilfracombe Golf Club, before going to college full-time to gain a qualification in turf science. Whilst there I had a work placement at East Sussex National Golf Club.
On completion, I went on the Ohio State University programme which included an 18-month work placement at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. I stayed at the same club for the entire placement as I was promoted to a junior management position and the club hosted PGA events whilst I was there; it was a great experience.
I then started working at Bedfordshire Golf Club which relocated to its present site in 2000, It was a growing project and I was employed as the deputy course manager. During this time I completed a Level 3 in Greenkeeping qualification and my chainsaw course.
In January 2003 I was promoted to the course manager’s position.
What training and qualifications do you need for your role?
I am registered on the BIGGA CPD scheme and regularly attend education events in the area to keep up to date. I have also been the first aider for the department since 2000 and have to be refreshed and retested to keep the qualification.
The spraying and chainsaw qualifications are required to carry out the job on a regular basis, but we also have to attend operator training from all our equipment manufacturers which include all the cutting machinery and the grinding equipment. This is why we’re excited to learn more about Lantra’s new Groundcare Maintenance suite.
Why do you think it’s important to undertake accredited training?
It is really important to keep up to date and qualified with all the relevant qualifications so you can carry out your job to the high standards expected today. Good staff are highly sought after and require looking after.
The assessors are also highly trained and knowledgeable and pass this on during the training, helping the candidate learn from the experience.
How did you find the Lantra courses you’ve experienced?
The Lantra courses I’ve attended have always been very informative and run to a high standard. All the information has been presented well and the practical part was also very beneficial.
The tests at the end were a good way of making sure you took all the information given to you throughout the day in, and the literature handed out has proved very useful to look back on if you ever need to.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to take up a career in Greenkeeping?
It can be a great career if you are prepared to work hard. Always ask lots of questions from fellow professionals, be prepared to move around and experience working at different courses.
Be prepared to keep educating yourself by attending relevant courses or manufacturer training days or by just having a course walk at another golf course with their staff.