Almost every course manager I’ve spoken to since joining Syngenta in the winter is struggling to run a full team, and those few that have full teams have sworn me to secrecy. Like for many industries its currently really difficult to recruit and retain staff.
Many course managers are being forced to search further afield for the right candidates, and are looking to those with much less hands-on experience than would have historically made the cut. These new recruits may well be hard working and enthusiastic, but are much less likely to come with previous turf knowledge.
Part of the function of any turf management team is to be an extension of the course manager, the ‘eyes and ears in multiple places at once around the course. Whilst it sounds like something from a spy novel, it’s really important to have well-trained eyes and ears when it comes to spotting the early signs of turf diseases, and general plant stress. This could be spotting some drought stress from a broken irrigation head, or the unexpected early start of Microdochium Patch. This information coming back early can make all the difference to your ability to implement the right measures to correct the situation.
And whilst there is unfortunately no download from an App store that delivers you a greenkeeper with ten years experience for free, and no substitution for experience gained over time, hopefully by making turf pest/disease information readily available at the touch of a button we can help the next generation of greenkeepers ‘get their eye in‘ and start spotting the issues on the course.
Each of the disease selections you can make in the App, above I’ve gone with Anthracnose, has a load of useful information on the disease, along with around 5 good quality pictures so you can see different forms of the disease. As they don’t always appear exactly as illustrated in a text book, part of the reason it can be hard for less experienced staff to accurately identify.
The hope is the App can be used as a training aid, so you can build up the experience and confidence of any new hires rapidly, and get them pointing out issues before even you’ve seen them!