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Haydock head greenkeeper celebrates 40 years

HAYDOCK Park Golf Club’s head greenkeeper Terry Wharton is celebrating 40 years at the club having started the role back in April, 1980 as a young man looking to cut his teeth in the industry.

Terry explains some of the changes that have taken place during his time at the Newton-Le-Willows-based club: “The early years saw limited machinery on the course with most surfaces cut with hand machines, except for fairways and rough that were cut with tractor and gang mowers. The top-dressing facility of a self-contained hopper supersedes the tractor, trailer and wheelbarrow that in the early 1980s you’d be lucky to dress greens with 20 tonnes throughout the year. Against 120 tonnes delivered in a two-month period in the spring at the present time.”

In light of all the advancements in technology and more televised golf events, Terry was asked what he thought has been the main change throughout the 40 years. “The golfers desire for better surfaces has seen the staffing levels raised at most clubs compared to the early years. With busy clubs realising the work program for the day needs to be completed quickly and efficiently before the golfers start their round with only the basic tasks being completed early afternoon. This point can be shown with our start times in the summer of 1980 we had a 8am start with a 5pm finish against present start time of 6am with a 2pm finish allowing the greens team to complete most of the course set up before the course gets busy.”

Terry, a member of the British and International Golf Greenkeeping Association (BIGGA), added: “The 40 years have gone quickly and I’ve been very fortunate to spend most of my working life in a beautiful landscape working with good greenkeepers and staff trying to raise the standards and the playability of our course.”

Asked what his favourite memory is of his time at the club, Terry is quick to stress “the members.” He explained: “We’ve had some real characters playing the game at Haydock Park, none more so than, Jack Padoue, who was one of the ‘old guard’.”

On arrival at the club one Monday lunchtime, Jack was met with builders in the men’s locker room. Jack looked surprised ‘how dare they work’ on the day he played, and it may affect his preparation on setting up for his fourball. Jack’s fourball was run to military precision and woe betide anyone getting in his way! So, the builders were told by Jack what was expected from them. A ‘quick clean efficient job’ and, by the way, ‘turn that bloody radio off, don’t you realise you’re working at a private members golf club.’

The builders came across Jack a few more times before they finished the work and were met with the same abruptness. On the builders completing the locker room Jack realised his key wouldn’t open his locker. On further inspection someone had “accidentally” spilled some super glue into the lock!

The club’s business manager, Stephen Nicholson, added: “Wow, 40 years service! That’s longer than I’ve been on this planet. It’s a feat that’s rarely matched these days with more and more people opting to move from position to position to progress their careers. Terry’s loyalty has been at the heart of his longevity here. Alongside this what I am impressed with the most about Terry is his enthusiasm to continue to learn and develop. We’ve sent him down to Oxford to see how a different style of greenkeeping works, we’ve updated our systems so he now has a computer in his office, has access to word, excel and email whilst updating everything in the cloud along with an online planner in the form of Turfkeeper that tracks all shifts, financial planning of stock, seed, fertiliser applied etc.

“It’s great that Terry continues to push for more and we look forward to continuing to work together for the next 40 years! He is a credit to the club, his profession and his family.

“Once this pandemic is over we will no doubt have a proper celebration for Terry – in the meantime, thanks again for all that you do and keep up the great work.”