We have much still to achieve

Dave Saltmanin Editorial

dave.jpgThe February/March edition of the Pitchcare magazine makes interesting reading from the perspective of our industry's future.

The bottom line appears to be that it is a poorly paid sector that could do a lot more for itself.

Tending to sports turf, either as a greenkeeper or a groundsman, is a passion that provides both pride and satisfaction when everything is going well, or when the poor odds have been overcome.

Clearly though, what has become a vocation, rather than a job, for many of us 'veterans' has become lost on the younger generation. As an example, nineteen year old Assistant Groundsman, Josh Bowman, writes a great article (on page 34) on what the challenges are to our industry to encourage new and young blood.

In this day and age, financial security is important, and everyone should expect a fair wage for a day's work.

Other industries' pay scales are far more enticing, so the main focus should be to push harder for better pay in our sector. A difficult ask, I hear you say, given the decline in golf and the fact that much of the sports turf side is run voluntarily. Well, yes it is, but it's the eternal burning question that we have to overcome.

For many of us, tending to the garden is a love, an unpaid passion to make it look great throughout the year. Often, a retired or semi-retired person, with more time on their hands, will feel an equal need to help out at their local sports club, both to fill their time and to provide a surface that fills them with pride and satisfaction.

All the while that this free help is available, the club will spend money on other priorities, such as player subsidies, instead of budgeting a real cost for the ground's upkeep. The resounding message that is regularly discussed on our message boards is charging users a little extra to play.

An additional £1 a week from all players would go a long way to improving the quality of each respective venue's playing surfaces.

Even a small club, with three or four teams using the facilities, would generate an extra £50 per week - a couple of thousand pounds towards the maintenance costs. Many clubs that we visit have 200-300 kids being coached and playing at weekends, just a small increase in membership subs would be a huge boost to the coffers, if administered correctly.

Golf is different, as the maintenance staff are paid, but encouraging motivated youngsters to follow greenkeeping as a career can only happen if there is a clear path of progression, with a carrot of suitable salaries up the scale.

Donald Steel, Chairman of the Greenkeepers Training Committee, provides an insight into how well the GTC has progressed in this issue. So, perhaps there are more encouraging signs here that the future can be brighter.

And then there is the viewpoint of James Mead, the well respected Head Groundsman at Rugby School,who issues a rallying cry to our industry to 'get its act together' in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics, citing obese children and poor quality school playing field facilities as a poor legacy.

It all makes very interesting reading and, I should point out, that none of these articles were commissioned by us. All three are offered as an honest and individual take on our industry.

We have much still to achieve.

Further debate and comments about the magazine and, in particular, the above topics are ongoing on the Pitchcare Message Board

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