Bad Press

Dave Saltmanin Editorial

Haywards Heath.jpgIt seems that our industry has a penchant for attracting bad press. A recent example would be the unfortunate greenkeeper at Haywards Heath Golf Club who 'irrigated' the course with weed killer, damaging vast areas of the course. No facts were given other than he was a 'groundsman' or 'greens keeper' depending on which paper you read.

Then came the Daily Telegraph who did a hatchet job on 'golf courses, ruining our green and pleasant land', a wholly inaccurate piece that completely ignored the facts presented to their reporter, who chose sensationalism over the truth. From my own experiences this isn't the first time. After the Champions League Cup Final, where the build up to the game had centred entirely on the poor playing surface, a reporter from the paper was hell bent on blaming the pitch (which was fine on the night) for all the lost footings, players cramp and missed opportunities.

There are, of course many other examples in recent years; The pitches at Wembley and Wigan with Motson and Lawrenceson banging on ad nauseam, (am I the only person relieved that John 'state the bloody obvious' Motson has retired?) as well as poor old New Road at Worcester where last year's summer floods were completely out of the control of the groundstaff.

And when a good story comes along, what happens? Well, in the case of the US Open, it gets completely ignored. Candice Cruddington .jpgombs became the first woman Course Superintendent to oversee a golf major and, yet, the media decided not to mention it.

I'm not sure why the press want to jump on our industry at every opportunity. Perhaps it is the high profile nature of many of the facilities that make them fair game. But, equally, I do not understand some of the derisive comments that appear on the Pitchcare message board when these stories come to light. It amazes me that there is still a 'them and us' mentality amongst some sections of this industry when, surely, these are the times that we should all be pulling together, showing a united front and rallying around colleagues who are under duress. In fairness there are those who also offer strong support as well.

Through the pages of our magazine and website we try to present a united 'turfcare' front. We aim to cover all the sports disciplines, including the minority ones, because we believe that aspects of pitch maintenance will be of interest to greenkeepers and, conversely, how a greenkeeper operates will interest groundsmen.

After all, we all use similar tractors, topdressers, aerators, mowers and fertilisers, as well as employing similar good practice. Our primary aim, whether a greenkeeper or a groundsman, is to supply the best sports or amenity surface for the intended use.

At the top flight we are more than groundsmen or greenkeepers. We are competent people managers, widely qualified, have a full understanding of current and ongoing health and safety regulations, keep abreast of legislation and, in addition, are required to communicate with the media.

I suggest that, if we are all turfcare professionals, then we should all serve and support our turfcare industry as one.

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