Master Greenkeeper 77: Rob Clare
In May 2019, Dubliner Rob Clare of Brough Golf Club in Humberside became the 77th BIGGA member to be awarded the Master Greenkeeper Certificate.
I started my career in Dublin 25 years ago, working at several prestigious clubs.
I left Ireland in 1997 to attend Myerscough College, where I completed my National Certificate in Greenkeeping. I then did a 14-month internship in Florida through Ohio State University. Upon my return I was accepted in to the second year of the National Diploma. At the end of that year I left for Australia and worked at a course in Perth.
Upon my return to England, I sent out speculative CVs all around Ireland and England. I was hoping to secure a deputy head greenkeeper or first assistant role, however I was actually offered a course manager position at Skipton Golf Club in the Yorkshire Dales.
This was a really big break for me and I grabbed it with both hands. I was only 26 at the time and the chance to run my own course was a dream come true. There was plenty of scope to improve the course and put my own stamp on the place, which was really exciting.
In my first winter there I completed my National Diploma pand continued to bring Skipton into shape. After a few years I embarked on my Foundation Degree, studying online.
I graduated in 2010 and was the recipient of the Ransoms Jacobson Cup for top student. As part of the prize I was the first European winner of the award to be invited to North Carolina, where we visited the Jacobson factories, attended lectures and visited golf clubs including Quail Hollow and Sage Valley, as well as the baseball and football stadiums.
I applied for Brough Golf Club in 2010 and was sad to leave Skipton but looked forward to the challenge of another club.
In 2013 I was fortunate enough to be chosen to attend the GCSAA convention in San Diego as part of the BIGGA Delegation with Bernhard and Company.
I have, however, not had it all my own way, Brough has suffered tremendous depredation due to chafer grub infestation and this has been a huge challenge. Over the last few years I have worked with people who have been at the forefront of research and have used my site to trial alternative methods for combatting the problem.
In my homelife, I have two boys who are 14 and 12. The youngest plays football for his school, Hull and District county, a Sunday league team and the Hull development squad. The other has done MMA since he was five and goes to drama and guitar lessons, so most of my spare time is spent taxiing them around and cheering them on!
I see the Master Greenkeeper Certificate as a benchmark, not only for where I am in my career but for the golf course I manage too. The level 2 section of the award really makes you review your policies and procedures and the whole team developed professionally as a result. My crew has been a huge help, they have all pulled together and I now have everyone on the same page.
It has taken longer than I first anticipated to achieve this award, due to bringing this golf course up to standard and the trouble we have had with chafer grubs, but it was well worth persevering and seeing it through. During the process I have met with a number of Master Greenkeepers who have offered advice and support, for which I am very grateful. It demonstrated the importance of sharing skills and knowledge so that as an industry we can progress and move forward.