Covid-19 Q&A with Richie Stephens

Lee Williamsin Golf

We caught up with Richie Stephens, Course Manager at Ringway Golf Club to find out how they have adapted their working practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How is COVID-19 affecting the way that you work?

It has slowed everything up and we have to do things a lot more carefully and individually. We have found when you are working as a pair you can do things a lot quicker than just double time. The main thing has been having to work on your own all day and trying to cut contact down to a minimum to enable social distancing - for a close group, it's really difficult.

Are you working with a reduced team during this time?

The team size has been led by the R&A's decision to put out a set of guidelines. So, what we tried to do, was decide how many people we needed to complete the jobs we were allowed to do. Luckily, the club have backed up what I have suggested, and we have ended up with four team members - which should be enough. The main thing here is cutting rough; around our place there is a lot to cut, it takes a long time and is very lush. As I say, we easily have enough staff to do fairways, tees and greens.

Do you think there will be any long-term implications?

I think one of the long-term implications, which I have already communicated to BIGGA, is the top-dressing and aeration side of things on greens. Many of us have made a lot of progress, in a relatively short space of time and it's seeing thatch build up on greens because we can't top-dress and aerate - that could be the biggest greenkeeping effect. On the other hand, the guys who haven't played off mats on fairways are going to see them recover and be in good condition. We are going to be able to grow the grass a little bit longer, so it may be a bit healthier when we do come back; I think there are couple of positives from that. However, I do think the lack of investment is going to show at some point.

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