The BTME Breakfast Club 2018: Essex cricket's top groundsman
Posted on Wednesday, 3rd January 2018
They’re at the top of their game, and on Wednesday 24 January four of the UK’s leading names in the turf management industry will come together to discussions the challenges they face in their respective sports.
With tales from throughout their stellar careers, everyone who attends is sure to take something away from the event. There’s no better way to start your BTME day.
The BTME Breakfast Club 2018: Cutting Edge Turf Management
Wednesday 24 January, 8.30-9.30am, The Royal Hall, Harrogate Convention Centre, HG1 5LA
Hosted by Naga Munchetty
Darren Baldwin, head of playing surfaces and estates, Tottenham Hotspur FC
Keith Kent, head groundsman, Rugby Football Union, Twickenham Stadium
Stuart Kerrison, head groundsman, Essex Cricket
Kenny Mackay, director of courses and grounds, The Wentworth Club
Head groundsman at Essex County Cricket since 1991, Stuart Kerrison has had to face increasing pressures with the cricket starting earlier in the year - a plight golf greenkeepers will sympathise with. A four-time runner up of the Groundsman of the Year award, Stuart took on the head role aged just 23, making him the youngest on the county scene at the time.
Are you looking forward to BTME?
We haven’t been for a couple of years, but I like to get involved with BIGGA events as much as I can.
I really enjoy the social side of BTME as you get to meet lots of different people from all over the country. Every year you go, there’s something new coming up, and it helps you keep up to date with all the developments in the industry.
What do you enjoy about speaking at conferences?
I enjoy being able to pass on my experiences to the next generation of groundsmen. When I did a talk at the BIGGA South East Region I spoke about what we do, because it’s so alien to what you do in golf. We are almost trying to kill the grass, and you have to recover it as much as possible. We are starving it of moisture, squeezing all the air out of it, creating an environment that the grass doesn’t want to grow and then running over it in a three-tonne roller. They are starting earlier and earlier and what players and the ECB expect is the same conditions in the first week of April as it is in July, which is very difficult to replicate.
What is the value of education?
I was chairmen of the groundsmen for about 14 years. There’s probably only 100 groundsmen working at first class grounds, meeting once a year. But we do have a voice that we can take to the top table with the ECB. They want to hear what we have to say, but it took us the best part of 10 years to get a seat at the top table. We were able to gain that respect because we as an industry became more and more educated, which allowed us to better fight our corner.
What is the value of cross-sport education?
There’s lots of machinery coming on the market that you don’t get to hear about because they may be marketed just at golf at the moment, but that it’s worth us taking a look at.
We are all using grass at the end of the day and everyone is working towards a budget, which doesn’t seem to be improving anywhere. We are having to adapt how we do things and there might be things we do that greenkeepers can learn from, such as how we recover our turf from the incredible stress we put it under. It’s going to be really interesting for them to learn more about that.