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The importance of a helping hand Member volunteers on a golf course are a big help to grounds staff.
The importance of a helping hand

Article by Alyce Shaw published on 10/05/2017

The image of a pristine golf course is one we know all too well, but it doesn’t come easy. Hours of mowing, trimming, and general gardening go into bringing a golf course up to playable standard each week, and with just a handful of staff – it’s a wonder some days how everything gets done.

Most golf courses have a group of volunteer members that will lend a helping hand throughout the year to keep their beloved golf course in perfect playing condition.

Pambula Merimbula Golf Course runs with an eight-man crew, but Superintendent Pat Wilson says they couldn’t work to such high standards without the help of up to 60 hours in voluntary work each week.


“It’s like we’ve got a 15 man crew here because of all the little bits and pieces that get done like bin running, picking up sticks and rubbish, trimming around sprinkler heads, stuff that isn’t the horticultural side of things.

The volunteers do all those bits and pieces where we can concentrate on keeping the turf healthy and cutting, spraying, fertilising and doing all the primary greenkeeping jobs,” he says.

Wilson has about five groups of volunteers that take care of certain areas on the course at different times of the year.

“I’ve got a gardening group, a working bee group that help out labour wise, in the winter there’s a group of about eight guys that come in and do a lot of the back burning off of debris, I’ve also got a firewood gang who cut up all the fallen trees with a splitter and we re-sell that to the members at a cheap price,” he says.

All of the volunteers at Pambula Merimbula Golf Course are members of the club, which is the only pre-requisite for volunteering.

“You find in Merimbula a lot of guys come here to retire but they’re still young and active, so they actually want to come out and do something,” says Wilson.

Another benefit of having members volunteer their time on the course is that it helps them to appreciate what goes into keeping a golf course beautiful.

“[The volunteers] can come in and work for eight hours and they see what they’ve done, but they see they’ve really done nothing in the big scheme of things, and we’ve got eight guys here working full time, 40 hours a week – it just helps to show how much work goes into a golf course day in day out,” says Wilson.


Chris Allan, course manager of Keysborough Golf Club also recognises the importance of a helping hand; and uses volunteers frequently on his 18-hole sandbelt course.

“We’ve got eight staff members, consisting of me, the mechanic, an assistant, two foremen, senior ground staff and two apprentices, so the volunteers are a big help,” he says.

Echoing Wilson’s notion, Allan agrees that volunteering allows members to recognise his staff’s hard work.

“They don’t really understand until they start volunteering how much work is involved in running the course operations, and how easy it is to fall behind,” he says.

Putting in hard work on the golf course instils some new pride in the member volunteers, which Wilson says works in their favour when criticisms come in to play.

“It comes full circle, because any sort of negative talk about anything on the golf course, all the volunteers are quick to shut down the member that’s talking negative,” says Wilson.

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