The Groundsman

June 2013

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IOG BEST PRACTICE 21 the Groundsman June 2013 "But as a grounds manager I had missed working on a day-to-day basis with the team and the playing surfaces. "A grounds manager's role can understandably keep you away from the nitty gritty of working with the turf. You can be involved in numerous meetings, about special events, budgets and invariably are faced with a mountain of paperwork, such as health and safety issues, for instance. These are understandably very important in ensuring that the venue and the grounds team operates smoothly. But for me the situation here is ideal, being the deputy and providing the link between Peter and what happens on the surfaces while also being hands-on with the turf and being involved with all issues relating to both. "Mine was a new role at Hurlingham and Peter has thankfully given me the opportunities and level of trust to make the job my own. I'd like to think I've developed a great working relationship with the complete team – as well as Peter's invaluable input, the expertise of tennis supervisor Laurence Duffield has been indispensable – and in the process brought something to the party, too." Neil entered groundsmanship after realising that a top-class sporting career was not for him. "My father was a Neil Harvey – Facts and Favourites " Tennis techniques Neil says that tennis court preparation is a specific remit of his day-to-day role and at Hurlingham there is plenty to do – the site has 55 courts (30 grass, 22 artificial and three indoor) that share this 42-acre oasis in south west London with 10 croquet lawns, a cricket square and outfield and, during the winter, golf. As well as being used by private members – there is a 15-year wait for membership – the club in Fulham also stages croquet and tennis competitions (the BNP Paribas Tennis Classic, for example, features tennis legends alongside ATP tour players) as well as numerous corporate and special events such as car shows and family picnic days. According to Neil, June and July are particularly busy months. In addition, the Hurlingham groundscare team also maintains more than two hectares of shrubs, extensive bedding areas, more than 600 mature trees, rose gardens and numerous grassed/lawn areas. At their disposal is an impressive range of machinery and equipment; primarily John Deere tractors and mowers, also Toro aerators, while Lloyds' Paladin pedestrian mowers are the preferred choice for the 'final finishes' on the cricket surfaces. "We all share a vision of improving the playing surfaces and, in terms of the grass tennis courts. I have drawn on my experience of constructing cricket/turf surfaces and, as a team, we've worked steadily to improve the playing surfaces. We're making changes in topdressings plus extensive levelling and koroing work to achieve year-on-year improvements." It means a lot when players like Tim Henman, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal compliment the courts. t " I was chuffed to win the award, but the standards we attain and continually strive for here are very much a team affair My favourite film: Withnail and I. My favourite book: A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines. My interests outside of work: Spending time with my family, music, walking, armchair sports pundit. The most challenging part of my career: Staff and all that goes with them. Good groundsmen are like gold dust. Who I most admire in, or out, of the industry and why: My wife. She never gives up (and she didn't even pay me to say that). The best piece of advice I can give to IOG members: You can always learn new ideas/methods. Never be afraid to ask questions. professional cricketer then, when he retired from playing, he became the cricket coach at Bradfield College and, as was common those days, he also became the head groundsman. I would accompany him at weekends and evenings. That's when I caught the bug and I started my career in 1982 as an apprentice at Reading Boys School, studying City & Guilds and eventually achieving Level 4. Visit for more information and digital editions

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