The Groundsman

October 2013

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the Groundsman October 2013 IOG BEST PRACTICE 19 Real skill with artificial surfaces The fact that John Courtney and his Swansea University groundscare team won the 2012 IOG Redexim Charterhouse/Kubota award for Best Maintained Artificial Pitch belies the wide-ranging groundscare skills that he and his team employ on a daily basis, as Colin Hoskins discovered By: Colin Hoskins n addition to two water-based synthetic pitches, which are used predominantly for hockey, the eighthectare Swansea University site also features an eight-lane outdoor 400m athletic track plus infield (for lacrosse, football, touch rugby, frisbee and volleyball in addition to athletic events), an indoor athletics training centre with six-lane running track and 15 tennis courts; six tarmacadam, six sand-based and three clay. All these facilities – plus neighbouring pitches, one each for football and rugby – as well as the adjoining car parking areas, are maintained and managed by John Courtney and two colleagues. Quite a facility and quite a workload, but John takes it all in his stride. "You can't have enough people playing sport," he affirms, "and everything we do is geared towards producing the best surfaces we can to encourage that. We have a wide range of students and local community clubs using the site – aged from 10 through to 80-year-olds – and we are used as a training base for elite international/national squads, including the England rugby league under 16s and we are a UEFA under 19s training base." John Courtney inspects one of the Swansea University water-based synthetic pitches Impressive groundscare pedigree To give some idea of usage, the football and rugby pitches have around 390 matches/training sessions each year, and the artificial surfaces are in use most days/evenings. As head groundsman at the Sketty Lane site, which is a stone's throw from The Mumbles, John joined the university seven years ago with an impressive groundsmanship pedigree, especially for producing rugby and cricket pitches. Visit for more information and digital editions t I

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