A greenkeeper is responsible for the maintenance, care and overall appearance of a golf course. It is their job to maintain a good playing surface and ensure the course offers a consistent challenge and an enjoyable experience to golfers.
There are four key areas on a golf course - tees, fairways, greens and areas of rough - each of which requires a different type of maintenance. Greenkeepers are often also responsible for the maintenance and planting of trees, shrubs and flower beds.
They tour the course at the start of the day in order to prepare the course for play. This can require very early starts to ensure the best playing surfaces are available on a daily basis. Greenkeepers also need to be constantly aware of golfers on the course, making sure their work does not interfere with play, and must keep health and safety at the forefront of all their activities.
Their work may include:
Greenkeepers are increasingly required to take into account the environmental impact of their work, especially in terms of water conservation and the use of chemicals.
Although they are part of a larger team, Greenkeepers often work on tasks alone. They often work under the supervision of a golf course manager.
The hours worked by Greenkeepers can be longer in the spring and summer months. In summer, they may start work at around 6.00am in order to complete various tasks before the course is open to golfers. As golf courses usually open seven days a week, weekend work is common. Part-time work may also be available.
Greenkeepers spend most of their time outdoors, in all weather conditions. Some time may be spent indoors repairing machinery, especially during the winter months.
Green keeping is physically active work requiring bending. Allergies, such as hay fever, could make this job difficult. Uniforms, including overalls and safety boots, are usually provided by the employer.
Apprentice Greenkeepers may start on around £10,000, rising to around £14,000 a year once qualified. Greenkeepers with a few years experience may earn up to £23,000 a year.
Some Greenkeepers may be paid an hourly rate, ranging from about £5 to £11 an hour.
There are around 15,000 Greenkeepers working in the UK. Employers include:
There are many golf courses and driving ranges located around the country. They may be found on the outskirts of towns, in the countryside and on the coast. Although entry to this career is competitive, opportunities are available throughout the country and overseas.
Golf courses and local authorities may advertise vacancies on customer notice boards and in local newspapers. Specialist golf website's, such as www.bigga.org.uk and www.pitchcare.com, also advertise positions.
No formal qualifications are needed; however experience in horticulture and agriculture, and a good understanding of golf may be an advantage.
A range of qualifications are available:
As a guide, minimum requirements for entry onto a BTEC National course are usually four GCSE's (A*-C), or equivalent; for a foundation degree the entry requirements are normally one A level and four GCSE's (A*-C), or equivalent; for a degree course the minimum requirements are normally two A levels and five GCSE's (A*-C), usually to include English and maths, or equivalent.
As entry requirements to courses are likely to vary, candidates are advised to check with individual institutions.
The British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) also has a Master Greenkeeper Certification Scheme for its members.
Most courses are offered by colleges and private providers throughout the UK. It may be possible to register on courses for day or block release and to study online or via distance learning. This method of learning is becoming increasingly popular with employers and learners.
The Diploma in environmental and land-based studies may be relevant for this area of work.
It may also be possible to enter this career through completion of an Apprenticeship in amenity horticulture.
Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer and will pay at least £95 per week from August 2009. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available on the Apprenticeship page on this website, from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.
Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.
Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.
There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Training is usually provided on the job, beginning with routine tasks and leading towards qualification in sports and amenity turf maintenance.
The Level 3 Advanced National Certificate in sports and amenity turf management includes more complex skills and supervisory responsibilities which can help to prepare Greenkeepers for promotion to management positions.
Most Greenkeepers join BIGGA, which offers subsidised training courses, scholarship opportunities and continuing professional development (CPD).
BIGGA also operates a Master Greenkeeper Certificate Scheme that recognises qualifications, skills and experience in golf course management.
Laboratory technicians carry out routine laboratory tests and perform a variety of technical support functions to help scientists, technologists and others with their work. They can work in research and development, scientific analysis and testing, education and manufacturing.
They are employed in a wide range of scientific fields which affect almost every aspect of our lives.
A greenkeeper needs:
Greenkeepers with suitable qualifications and experience can move into supervisory positions and then become course managers. Some may progress to manage several courses by becoming estate managers.
An understanding of the techniques and science of different playing surfaces can lead to employment opportunities in other sports. It may also be possible to move into agronomy or golf course design.
There may be opportunities to work overseas.
The British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association,
BIGGA House, Aldwark, Alne, York YO61 1UF
Tel: 01347 833800
Greenkeepers Training Committee (GTC),
Aldwark Manor, Aldwark, Alne, York YO61 1UF
Tel: 01347 838640
GROW your own career in Horticulture
Tel: 0845 707 8007
The Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG),
28 Stratford Office Village, Walker Avenue,
Wolverton Mill East, Milton Keynes MK12 5TW
Tel: 01908 312511
Pitchcare.com Ltd, The Technology Centre,
Wolverhampton Science Park,
Wolverhampton WV10 9RU
Tel: 01902 440252
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.