Greenkeepers, also known as groundsmen, plant and maintain the grass and turf used in parks, gardens and sporting fields such as football pitches, tennis courts and golf courses. They work toward ensuring these places are safe and ready for use. If you fancy working outdoors and possess excellent practical skills, you could become a greenkeeper.
Although the specific duties of greenkeepers could vary from workplace to workplace, they generally perform the following tasks:
- Ready land for grass planting or turf laying
- Operate equipment, such as irrigation systems, mowers and pruners
- Mark out and prepare sporting surfaces according to standard guidelines
- Maintain various structures, such as fences, hedges and paths
- Keep grounds tidy by pruning plants and removing rubbish, such as fallen leaves
Greenkeepers are on the job for about 37 hours a week, including weekends. Since these keepers usually work outdoors, they can be exposed to harsh weather conditions, such as strong winds and hot sun. Greenkeepers maintaining indoor sports arenas are, however, exempt from these conditions.
The following table provides potential earnings for greenkeepers at various career levels.
£16,502 - £20,160
Experienced and qualified keepers
£20,956 - £25,163
£45,380 or more
Source: Institute of Groundsmanship
Education and Training
To get your foot in this industry, you can:
- Complete a greenkeeping apprenticeship scheme, or
- Look for a job as a groundsperson and work your way up as you gain more experience and professional qualifications.
If you choose the latter, examples of courses you can pursue include:
- Level 2 Certificate/Diploma in Sports and Amenity Turf Maintenance
- Level 2 and 3 Certificate/Diploma in Horticulture
- Level 2 and 3 Award/Certificate in Practical Horticulture Skills
- Foundation/bachelor’s degree in sports turf and groundsmanship or sports surface management
Some of the best UK colleges offering these courses include:
Useful Skills, Interests and Abilities
Greenkeepers should have:
- Excellent practical skills
- Strong problem-solving skills to handle equipment malfunctions
- The ability to follow instructions carefully
- Intricate understanding of soil and plant biology
- Good physical fitness
- The ability to measure dimensions accurately
Once you start working, your employer will provide on-the-job training to help you master the skills required to perform your tasks competently. However, to demonstrate your commitment to this profession and enhance your chances of getting ahead, you can pursue additional short courses, such as;
- Level 2 Certificate/Diploma in Sports and Turf Maintenance
- Level 2 Diploma in Work-based Horticulture
- Level 4 (NVQ) Sports Turf Management
You can also boost your career progression prospects by applying for the membership of the Institute of Groundsmanship. Once you are approved, you will be able to access its career advancement programmes, including training workshops, seminars and short courses in various areas, such as synthetic surfaces, winter pitches and drainage.
Bachelor’s degree holders can pursue a master’s degree in sports surface technology or turf management.
Greenkeepers can work for:
- Local authorities
- Sports clubs
- Grounds maintenance contractors
- Private leisure providers, such as resorts
- Corporate organisations with leisure facilities
- Educational institutions
With experience and further qualifications, you can become a supervisor, team leader or turf manager. You can also establish a greenkeeping consultancy firm.
To success as a greenkeeper, you should put extra effort in developing professional networks. This will enable you to get in touch with people who can help you secure greenkeeping jobs in corporate organisations or well-established sports clubs. Good luck!
Image Sourced: Los Aqueros Golf and Country Club