Whenever the majority of the general public think of groundskeepers, their minds automatically dredge up images of Groundskeeper Willie shaking his fist at unruly youth and yelling in broad Scots.
This somewhat misleading representation of groundskeepers everywhere has vastly oversimplified the occupation (though there is a lot of shaking of fists and swearing at the weather involved). In reality, a day in the life of a groundskeeper is much more complicated than just keeping the grass alive. We’ve put together a few misconceptions that people tend to have concerning groundskeepers, and attempt to shed some light on the reality of the profession.
Expectation: the body of a bronzed God.
Reality: the sock tan.
While groundskeepers do tend to spend a lot of time in the sunshine, especially in Australia, it’s rare that the UV rays ever result in an even tan. It’s more likely that at the end of a particularly sunny week, all that’s discovered is a rather impressive sock tan. Groundskeepers are also avid advocates of Slip, Slop, Slap – they have a lot of work to do and no time to nurse raw sunburn!
Expectation: working in the great outdoors, day in, day out.
Reality: filling out order forms, filing reports, monitoring turf conditions, etc.
Contrary to popular belief, groundskeepers don’t spend every day joyriding on a lawnmower and conversing with woodland animals Disney Princess style. As with every job, there’s a lot of paperwork to do too. This includes ordering stock, filing reports, doing research and looking at numbers and figures. While groundskeepers do spend the majority of their time outside, they still fall victim to the inevitable pencil pushing.
Expectation: “you just mow the lawns, right?”
Yes, there’s more to taking care of grounds than cutting grass. And depending on the type of grounds being managed, a variety of treatments will need to be undertaken. You wouldn’t treat the turf on a football field the same as that on a golf course. Many people don’t realise that some groundskeepers study at university for several years before undertaking their career, especially those in the sports turf management field.
Expectation: watching movies when it rains.
Reality: more paperwork, more careful planning.
If you thought groundskeepers shut up shop when the rain comes along, think again. Despite what you may believe, groundskeepers don’t turn on Netflix when it rains during lunch break at school. There’s more of that dreaded paperwork to do (will it ever get done?). Careful planning is also on the cards as the weather will have to be taken into account when organising events and leaving enough time for the turf to be ready for use again. It is a fact that groundskeepers have a direct line to Mother Nature, it’s just that sometimes they’re not on the best of terms.
Expectation: “so you keep the grass green and put the lines on the field?”
Reality: constant maintenance before, after and sometimes during each game.
Being the groundskeeper of a sports field can be a tough gig. The players, the coaches and the fans are all relying on the groundskeeper for the show to go on. This depends on far more than simply keeping the grass green and marking out the field (though this helps). Groundskeepers of multi-purpose sports venues have to be particularly vigilant when it comes to turf maintenance. They often experience short periods between games to get the turf back to tip-top shape, not to mention in a state that will suit a variety of sports. They’re the first ones to the game, and the last ones to leave. It can be a lot of pressure but also a fantastic opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the world’s leading athletes!
Not scared of the reality of being a groundskeeper? See how you can kickstart your groundskeeper career here.