The Australian Sports Turf Managers Association has created a segment to help the turf industry stay connected. With many events postponed due to current challenges, the opportunity to meet new and catch up with familiar friends and peers across the turf industry is limited, so we’re keeping connected and to ensure that turf managers can get to know members from other areas of the industry, other States and other countries, to help promote the professionals and the hard work put into the industry.
Today we spend 5 minutes with... Idris Evans, Superintendent at The Western Australian Golf Club. Idris has been with the club for 34 years.
Provide a quick overview of your facility (staff, turf varieties managed, current role and length of time at your club/facility.)
The Western Australian Golf Club is an 18 hole private club located 6 kilometres north of the Perth CBD. I have been employed at the club for 34 years and have held the Superintendents’ position for the last 21 years. Our ground staff team comprises of 10, including myself and a mechanic. The course has Pure Distinction greens, Kikuyu fairways/rough and Santa Ana tees.
2020 has been one out of the box especially in light of the global pandemic – how have your operations had to change and adapt from past years and what has been the most challenging aspect for your as a superintendent/sports turf manager?
I think it is fair to say we were certainly not prepared for the Covid pandemic. We had to make immediate changes to staffing levels having to let one staff member go and another four to part-time only hours. Our course closed for almost three weeks. It is difficult to describe how strange it was maintaining a course for no one to play on. It obviously made our jobs easier and it was incredible how quickly the course condition improved without the impact of play. I always thought it would be great without golfers’ but it was eerie and I actually really missed the members. I guess it was the job satisfaction when you see your hard work being enjoyed by the players that was missing.
When the course reopened our members were out in force, playing in groups of two from first light until dark. We had modified course set-up for social play only, with foam in the cups, pins that were not allowed to be removed and no rakes in bunkers (preferred lies in bunkers). We have been extremely lucky in Perth with normal competitions resuming by May. Player traffic has been at an all-time high. With many people working from home and no one able to travel members have just flocked to the course.
Hygiene has been challenging with constant cleaning of machinery after use. Where possible machinery was assigned to specific staff member. Increased player traffic has made maintenance practices very tricky. Job keeper enabled my staff numbers and hours to return to normal levels.
Best piece of advice you have received about the turf management profession and who gave it to you?
Trevor Strachan always said never to rush a decision. If you are thinking about a new turf project make sure you thoroughly investigate it and seek as much advice as possible to ensure a well researched decision is reached.
Talk about a recent or current project you have undertaken at your facility and what it means for the club.
We are in the final year of a four year project resurfacing all 18 greens and the practice putting area with Pure Distinction. The results have been outstanding and our members are extremely happy with the new surfaces.
Tell us one thing about yourself that your fellow turf practitioners might now know about you (eg: hobbies/achievements in sport etc).
I came to Perth from Darwin to play cricket at the Mt Lawley District Cricket Club as a 17 year old. I played over 200 first grade games for the club and was a member of 3 premiership winning teams.
The cricket clubs home ground is located opposite the golf club so I visited and asked the then Superintendent Trevor Strachan if any work was available. That was the start of my career in the turf industry.
What piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The industry is filled with great people who are well equipped and more than happy to offer help and advice.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
I enjoy socialising with family and friends. I play golf at the club regularly and still maintain a connection with the cricket club watching my son play. Photography is also a passion of mine. My wife and I have travel plans which are obviously on hold at the moment but definitely something to look forward to in the future.
Thanks for taking the time to speak with us Idris!