The BTME Breakfast Club kicks day two of BTME off in style

The BTME Breakfast Club kicks day two of BTME off in style

Four of the turf management industry's leading names came together on Wednesday to share stories from their stellar careers and discuss the issues they've faced.

Kenny Mackay, Darren Baldwin, Stuart Kerrison and Keith Kent spoke at BTME 2018 about their roles at Wentworth, Tottenham Hotspur, Essex Cricket Club and the Rugby Football Union.

Kenny and his team at Wentworth won the BIGGA Championship Performance of the Year Awardfor turning the course around between the 2016 and 2017 BMW PGA Championships.

"The team is everything in this," he said. "It is in all the sports industry. You talk to the guys right through the team who really make a difference, it doesn't matter who you are, you aren't going to deliver that without the right people alongside you."

Darren Baldwin is head groundsman at Tottenham Hotspur and is currently working on one of the most fascinating projects in the industry.

The innovative design for Tottenham's new stadium will feature an NFL pitch underneath its primary football pitch, which will slide away into a garage before being rolled out for Tottenham fixtures.

"They're two different playing surfaces," said Darren. "We have a deal with the NFL to host two games per season for the next 10 years.

"But the damage these guys do to a playing surface is unbelievable, so the chairman had a vision to slide the pitch out, under one of the new stands and underneath will be the NFL pitch. His drive to achieve the best both on and off the pitch is second to none."

While much of BTME is exhibitors showcasing how best to grow grass, for Stuart Kerrison the opposite is true.

As head groundsman at Essex Cricket, he told of how his job revolves more around killing grass than growing it.

"People say that we're trying to kill the grass and there's a lot of truth in it," he said.

"We spend half the season trying to destroy the grass. We're starving it of moisture, we're putting three-tonne rollers on it 20 or 30 times. And then you've got 16-stone blokes with spikes on their boots trampling all over it.

"We're having to work within massive budget restraints but the demands are much the same. Cricket's king in India. We can have a cricket game with 5,000 people in the ground and 25,000 watching on TV and half a billion watching in India, so there's still the same pressure."

Keith Kent has worked at Manchester United and Leicester City and is now overseeing things with the Rugby Football Union at Twickenham.

Despite spending more than 30 years in football, Keith said he found the transition to rugby to be quite straightforward.

He said: "It was quite easy because the wear patches are different. There's a bit of a diamond shape in football but it's chaos in rugby.

"You can have a scrum or maul anywhere on the pitch and there's 15-a-side rather than 11, but most of all I enjoyed the switch, because I don't understand the game, so I enjoy it.

"We're trying to catch up with football. With rugby there's so much compaction so aeration is key. At Twickenham we want to have the best pitch in the world. We can't be old-fashioned groundsmen saying 'You can't play on our pitch' so we have to find ways to improve."

You can read more in the February edition of Greenkeeper International, out soon.

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