In their own words: Jim Croxton

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir September 7, 2019 10:52

The chief executive of Europe’s largest greenkeeping association looks at measures that are making this career more attractive to women.

September traditionally marks the culmination of the UK golfing calendar and as the professionals build towards end of season championships, greenkeepers are on hand to make sure the playing surfaces are in the best condition they possibly can be.

The Solheim Cup at Gleneagles and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth are two huge events for the women’s and men’s games. Both venues are sure to look spectacular for their worldwide audiences and both have two things in common: the golf courses are prepared for play each day by large greenkeeping teams and they will also have a huge number of volunteers on hand, helping to push those high standards even further.

I’m delighted that among those greenkeepers and volunteers will be many BIGGA members and it’s fitting that a number of those will be women.

Jim Croxton

The greenkeeping profession is particularly male-dominated and the number of ladies in the industry is reflected in our membership, where less than 2 per cent are female. It’s my belief that as schemes such as Women & Girls Golf Week, which coincided with the British Women’s Open, raise interest in golf among ladies, we’ll see the knock-on effect of more women choosing to pursue a career in greenkeeping.

Those ladies who are members of the association invariably tell us that they enjoy the lifestyle that greenkeeping affords them, both in terms of having a physically-active role and working outdoors. They’ll tell you that there’s nothing a man can do out on the course that they can’t and they are, of course, absolutely correct.

At the Women’s British Open in July, I was delighted that courses manager John Clarke extended an invitation to every female member of BIGGA to join the volunteer team, with seven answering the call. These ladies had a fantastic time and in addition to gaining invaluable tournament experience themselves, they also acted as incredible ambassadors for the profession and my thanks go out to them all.

It is perhaps strange that the most critical part of every golf tournament – and by that I’m referring to the golf course itself – supplements the paid workforce with volunteers to ensure it is in the condition expected of it by the tournament hosts and the viewing public. I’m not sure the same can be said of any other aspect of the event, certainly not hospitality, merchandising and so on, and yet without the course, there could be no tournament.

In their passion to do the job and their professional pride to produce a course that is as good as physically possible, the greenkeepers have perhaps made a rod for their own backs – no one expects Michelin-starred food service from the catering tents, but if greenkeepers were in charge, you’d be certain that they’d enlist volunteers from all over the country to create an incredible menu.

The problem then arises when the customer begins to expect that level of service on a regular basis, not understanding the exceptional circumstances in the background.

Telma Granja, who leads an all-male team of 11 greenkeepers at Santo da Serra, on the island of Madeira, and is one of the few women in greenkeeping

Returning to our hope that more ladies will take up greenkeeping as a career, BIGGA is actively supporting The R&A’s Women and Golf Charter. We’ve also published a Women in Turfcare booklet and established a Facebook community where women greenkeepers from all over the world can come together, talk about their experiences and help each other out.

The greenkeeping industry will continue to do its part to make sure the sport is as attractive as it can be, whether as a pastime or as a career choice, and I’m delighted that there’s an interest from the general public in finding out what’s going on behind the scenes at events such as the Solheim Cup. With golf in the spotlight, it’s great that the greenkeeping industry is also gaining the recognition our members deserve. Long may that continue.

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Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir September 7, 2019 10:52
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1 Comment

  1. Justyna September 9, 11:53

    Hope there will be more od us

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