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... Damian Hough, Head Curator at Adelaide Oval, as well as a director on the board of The Australian Sports Turf Managers Association. Hough has been part of the Grounds Department at the Adelaide Oval since 1996, taking over as head curator in July 2010 and completing his Advanced Diploma in Sports Turf Management in 2011.
Provide a quick overview of your facility (staff, turf varieties managed, current role and length of time at your club/facility).
The Adelaide Oval grounds team currently consists of 9 staff. There is Dave Egan (Turf Manager), Pete Foreman (Assistant Turf Manager), Chris Cox, Jon Trenorden, Todd Heinrich, Marcus Kightley, Brooke Francis, Harry Marshall and myself. I have been working at Adelaide Oval since September 1996 where I started as an apprentice and am currently the Head Curator. The team is a mix of SACA staff and SANFL staff and combined in late 2013 when the oval was redeveloped. We manage the Adelaide Oval (Ryegrass), Number 2 ground (Santa Anna couch) including 7 centre pitches, Variety of practice pitches (36 pitches in total), Ornamental lawns (both Ryegrass and Santa Anna), Northern mound (Rye grass), Parkands (Kikuyu) and have a contract to manage 15 courts for Next Generation Health clubs (Santa Anna couch).
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?
With sport coming to a stand still for a few months it meant significant challenges were faced and changes made. Unfortunately staff were stood down and some staff chose not to return and we now go into the upcoming Summer with a smaller team. Moving forward budgets have had to be significantly reduced and we are currently working through how this will look but expect management of the areas will need to be managed differently. Long term planning is the greatest challenge as schedules and events keep changing and evolving which has a flow on effect for everyone. Staff have been very resilient and exceptional.
Best piece of advice you have received about the turf management profession and who gave it to you?
To work hard and support each other and understand we play an important role in the sporting community - Les Burdett
Talk about a recent or current project you have undertaken at your facility and what it means for the club.
Definitely the redevelopment of Adelaide Oval and the introduction of drop in pitch technology. Adelaide Oval is now a true multi-purpose Venue.
Tell us one thing about yourself that your fellow turf practitioners might now know about you (eg: hobbies/achievements in sport etc).
I have an identical twin brother so if you ever say hi and get a blank look on the other persons face it might be him.
What piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
Work hard, ask plenty of questions and never dare to dream and most of all to enjoy yourself.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
Spending time with my wife Kylie and our 3 kids.
Thank you for spending 5 minutes with us Damian!
Image credit (oval): Caleb Sutherland, 9 news