Greenkeeper chief warns golf clubs over ‘outdated’ facilities

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BIGGA say it’s time golf clubs put staff first with many teams working in facilities ‘no longer fit for purpose’

Many golf clubs still “force” greenkeeper staff to work in outdated facilities that are “no longer fit for purpose”.

That’s the claim from the British and International Golf Greenkeepers’ Association, who have called on the sport to clean up its act.

Jim Croxton, BIGGA chief executive, appealed for greater support for greenkeepers and golf club staff in general – saying that following the sport’s pandemic boom, the time had come for leading bodies in the game to prioritise the workforce in clubs.

At the recent, BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition, Croxton led a rallying cry of golf’s professional bodies to address staff shortages and salary issues.

Now, he has gone further, saying a key concern for him and the BIGGA team were the conditions greenkeepers were expected to work in.

The Association revealed that “while some forward-thinking clubs now provided modern, clean and comfortable facilities for their greenkeeping teams, many still force their team to use outdated facilities that are no longer fit for purpose”.

And while salaries were a significant area of concern, the “incredibly high expectations” placed upon greenkeepers to present courses, despite often limited resources, was also causing stress and mental health problems.

Croxton explained: “I was at a gathering of golf club leaders last autumn and asked the attendees to put their hands up if they would be prepared to work in the facilities they provide for their greenkeepers.

“Only a minority raised their hands and that shows an awareness of how we aren’t looking after the staff who play such a critical role in the success of golf businesses and the wider sport.

“It is also, of course, important to point out the challenges that club managers and other staff are facing in a rapidly changing and demanding industry.

“Golf is a sport that is delivered by people at facility level. Every club is autonomous and this leads to huge variations in pay, conditions and welfare for the staff members in those facilities. 

“Greenkeeping is a wonderful profession with many physical and mental health benefits and a wide range of career opportunities.

“It’s time for golf clubs to put their staff first, invest in their wellbeing and for a framework to be put in place that ensures every facility in the country treats their staff in a respectful and appropriate manner.”

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