For International Women's Day we spoke with a number of inspirational women who work in the groundskeeping or gardening industry about their work. This time it's Laura Jane Campbell from Gleneagles Greenkeeping.
How long have you been working in this industry?
My first taste of greenkeeping was in 2006 when I left school to do a few months unpaid work experience at Pitlochry GC. It was Oct-Dec and I was helping the guys reface bunkers, even though it was cold and wet I caught the bug for greenkeeping. Once my work experience was over I asked if I could be taken on full time. I started back in the April of 2007 full time as a trainee then Greenkeeper after completion of my work based SVQ level 2 greenkeeping qualification. I also completed my Pa1 and Pa6 spraying certificates.
In 2016 I took up a seasonal position at Gleneagles Greenkeeping, after 7 months I was kept on as a full time greenkeeper. Since then I have completed my Pa2 Spraying qualification and Lantra certificates for the use of pedestrian/ride on, rotary/cylinder mowers as well as tractors and utility vehicles .
At the beginning of 2018 I was promoted to Senior Greenkeeper, this involves setting up machines in the morning during the summer, taking the lead on projects around the courses and conducting training of new team members. In 2018 I travelled out to Bellerive Country Club in St Louis, Missouri to volunteer at the 100th PGA Championship. This was my first time in America and my first time ever volunteering. It was a great experience to work a Major golf tournament. Last year Gleneagles Greenkeeping hosted the Solheim Cup and Junior Solheim Cup at the same time, it was amazing to see and be a part of the months of preparation and build up and then be apart of the tournament where I hand cut greens each morning. The week was topped off with a Team Europe victory, the atmosphere was amazing.
What does the average day look like for you?
During the summer season at Gleneagles Greenkeeping in the mornings I come in early and along with a few others we get the machines ready for the morning set up, then I could be doing anything from cutting greens/tees/fairways, changing holes, doing a tee or bunker section or spraying. Afternoons are mostly attention to detail jobs like flymowing/strimming, divoting tees/fairways, weeding paths etc. We start around 5-5:30am during the summer. Once or twice a week we will have 1 of our 3 courses closed for maintenance so we take advantage of this by working a longer day. On these days I could be solid tining, over seeding or topdressing greens.
During the winter work varies, this winter it has been milder so we’ve been doing a lot of graden sand injection work to greens on all courses so I’ve been involved in that, I’ve also done some drainage work on approaches and tees, some resurfacing work to paths and repairing damaged and worn bunker faces. When we have cold weather or snow I will do stuff like salting and snow clearing around the hotel, clearing and burning bushes around the courses or painting some of the course furniture. The latest we start in the winter is 8am.
What would you say is the biggest challenge working in this industry/Have you faced any challenges being a female in a male dominated environment?
The hardest thing is probably attitudes, they are changing towards women in turf but when I first started 13yrs ago it was different, most guys had never had a female Greenkeeper in the team. When I was starting out in the industry I always felt like I had to work twice as hard as the boys to prove myself. I’ve experienced some negative attitudes at previous workplaces from a minority, it can be young lads who don’t like that a girl can do more than they can or even guys who have been in the industry a while who seem to have blinkers on and believe you can’t possibly be on the same level as the boys. You just have to work hard and prove them wrong, sometimes you won’t be able to but that’s just because some are stuck in their ways. I’ve been asked in a interview how I cope with the physical work because as it’s a small team they wouldn’t be able to pick up my “slack”. Questions like that aren’t necessary and Its probably a question better asked to the past employers who are supplying references.
That said it is definitely a minority with negative attitudes, times are definitely changing especially with women in turf getting more publicity in the last few years. The majority of colleagues I’ve worked with have been very accepting and encouraging. They all soon realise they don’t have to tiptoe around you and you just become “one of the guys”.
Why did you choose to work in this industry?
My Dad, Grampa and Uncles all used to play golf and my dad got me started playing at a young age. I joined the junior section at Pitlochry GC when I was 9 and now play in the ladies section. I was always more sporty than academic at school so a office job was never going to be a option. When I heard about the opportunity to try helping out on the golf course I thought I’d give it a go. I loved it, even in the wind and rain on work experience the guys would tell me to go shelter in the tractor but I wanted to watch and learn from what they were doing. Gleneagles Greenkeeping saw I was keen and that’s why they took me on full time.
What advice would you give to women wanting to join the industry?
Definitely go for it. If you work hard there are so many opportunity’s for progression, volunteering around the world, meeting new people and learning new skills. Join in with the lads banter, don’t shy away from them, you will be accepted into the team in no time at all. It’s a brilliant job if you love golf or just love being outdoors there are so many beautiful golf courses around the country. Starting early in the morning it’s the best time of the day, you see so much wildlife and great views just going about your morning set up tasks. Even in Scotland you sometimes get a tan in summer.
Finally, what is the best part about working in this industry?
Job satisfaction, there’s nothing better than getting a nice clean cut on greens or fairways in summer and looking back at the lines and definition. It doesn’t matter how long you have been in the industry you will probably always stop and take a photo at some point in the day.