Ganton’s Simon Olver tells us about greenkeeping during the Brabazon Trophy

As part of the latest England Golf Podcast, we spoke to Ganton Golf Club’s course manager Simon Olver in the run up to hosting the 2021 Brabazon Trophy.

Simon filled us in on a day in the life of a greenkeeper during a comp (warning – it’s not a life for those who enjoy their lie-ins!), their role in creating that crucial first impression, and how sustainability has become a consideration in all decision-making.

Click or tap play to listen to the interview below, or scroll down to read some snippets from the interview.

What does a normal working day look like while you’re hosting a major championship?

The alarm goes off at 3am. We arrive at about 4 o’clock and then give the tasks out.

We work until around about 11 o’clock. We’re then on call through the day, we’ll arrive back at about 3:30pm and work until about 8:30pm.

Sometimes after a debrief we’ll have a beer and chill out for 10 minutes then everyone goes for a few hours sleep.

How much focus is there on sustainability?

The sustainability of the site is key. We’re a traditional fine-turf site with modern levels of play. The tricky bit is that, since someone invented Gore-Tex, golf is now a 12-month sport! It would be 13-month if it could.

Fine-turf slows down quicker but the grass doesn’t recover or go through the winter so one element we look at is grass species that are more tolerant through the winter, and also managing wear, and managing play.

The key is being organised. We’ve recently achieved the GEO certification for the site and we’ll be working to maintain that over the next few years.

Has greenkeeping changed much since you started?

Managing a golf course is a data-based industry now. The expectations of golfers at any level has increased so much that when we look back 20 years, the courses were fantastic but the standards that are expected mean we do need to fine-tune every area now to meet these needs.

I am in front of a laptop more and more. Within the working day you’d love to be out there but you’re busy planning the budget and there’s always a certain season you’re planning for projects or machinery.

It’s great and I really enjoy that – I enjoy passing that information on throughout the club into the team and also receiving information back and putting everything together.

Communication [with the club] is key. If you’re progressing in a club, you’re going to make changes that people might not agree with and don’t understand the whole situation.

Being thorough within a club, externally, and within a team, is a key part of the success of any business as well as any golf course.