At Abridge Golf Club, data access is just a click away with TurfKeeper

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick June 13, 2024 10:43

For the last 18 years, course manager Geoff Smith has been spending hours meticulously setting up and inputting into an array of spreadsheets to help him manage the greenkeeping staff and grounds at the beautiful Abridge Golf Club in Romford, Essex.

“All my spreadsheets were stored on a USB stick which I guarded with my life. It recorded everything I needed to manage all areas of the golf course, including budgets, and provided the necessary evidence and reports to justify everything we did. It didn’t bear thinking about if it was to ever get lost!”

Geoff joined the Abridge 18-hole, par 72 championship golf course in 1996 and knows the greens better than anyone. He was a customer of Rigby Taylor, Headland Amenity and Symbio for around 12 years before they merged in 2021 to form Origin Amenity Solutions (OAS). “I love working with Origin, it’s been around 15 years now, and can’t praise them highly enough. They have great reps and some fantastic products. I put nearly all of my business through them.”

The course was first designed in 1962 by renowned maestro of English golf, Henry Cotton, whose outstanding feature was that both loops of nine holes started and finished at the clubhouse. It is considered one of the finest in the county and is an Open Regional Qualifying course. It has held various Essex tournaments and was host to the PDC EuroPro Tour event in 2022. Geoff uses a combination of non-biological and biological products as part of an ‘Integrated Turf Management’ programme. “The OAS reps work with me to choose products that complement each other well and ensure the very best outcome. We have around 750 members and our course and greens are expected to be in the best possible condition, free of disease,” adds Geoff.

In 2023 Geoff was persuaded to trial the OAS TurfKeeper web-based digital platform which is designed to replace all manual spreadsheets and ledgers. He had a demonstration from Kevin Scarce, TurfKeeper’s product manager and whilst impressed was reluctant to move away from his trusted spreadsheets.

With greenkeepers and turf professionals facing mounting pressure to justify every decision they make, from equipment purchases to project proposals, and with costs soaring and resources dwindling, the need for data-driven insights is critical. TurfKeeper is being used in many golf and sports clubs across the UK and is equipping turf managers and greenkeepers with the tools they need to maximise resources, streamline decision-making and manage turf maintenance.

Geoff implemented Turfkeeper in July 2023 and after a couple of hours of training set about entering his information into the system. Geoff considers himself ‘old school’ and wanted to try it alongside his existing spreadsheets. “I shouldn’t have worried, it’s such a user-friendly system and works brilliantly. I love it and dropped my spreadsheets at the end of 2023. I now use Turfkeeper exclusively for all my data.”

At the heart of TurfKeeper lies a robust suite, from staff management to inventory control, task planning to budgeting. TurfKeeper provides greenkeepers with a central hub to oversee every aspect of their operations. “I use it for everything,” adds Geoff. “It’s only as good as the information you put into it though, so I spent a few days inputting – staff wages, hours, stock information, budgets, maintenance programme and so on, and now it’s so easy to pull off the information I want. That’s the beauty of TurfKeeper. It gives you graphics and pie charts to show to management or the greens committee – everyone loves a picture – it’s so easy to understand and takes no time to produce.”

Abridge Golf Club is set in 240 acres of beautiful parkland with some of the finest views over the Essex countryside. It’s a close-knit club and its members and a greens committee are encouraged to interact, question and offer their suggestions. Geoff has a wealth of knowledge and is held in high esteem, but he does enjoy knowing he has data at his fingertips that he can show to back up his decisions or support his capital requests. His members requested the tees be cut by hand for a better finish. In seconds, Geoff had a report that showed the extra labour required to achieve this and the associated cost that management needed to sign off on additional staff recruitment.

Geoff is supported by a team of nine, there are currently two other people in his team with access permissions to the system, his deputy Ben Scrivener and first assistant Jamie Blagdon. They both assist Geoff with stock control and applications, and help assist with planning tasks in Geoff’s absence. Geoff now spends 30 to 45 minutes to plan for the week and month ahead, rather than the couple of hours previously. “I use TurfKeeper for everything but primarily organising tasks for the greenkeeping team, stock control and budget control.”

One of the most significant benefits of TurfKeeper is its ability to save time and resources. By automating repetitive tasks and eliminating manual paperwork, Geoff can focus his efforts on strategic decision-making and turf maintenance. “I am delighted with TurfKeeper, it has saved me hours of labour and I only have one platform to enter information into and extract data out of. The team likes it because they can view the full picture, they know what is planned for everyone for the weeks and months ahead. I can’t recommend it highly enough.”

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick June 13, 2024 10:43
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