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What is a Greenskeeper?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2016
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A greenskeeper is a horticulture professional who specializes in the care and maintenance of golf courses. While greenskeepers are very similar to other gardeners and landscapers, some of their responsibilities are unique to the golf course, which means that many of them are familiar with the history and rules of golf. Greenskeepers work for country clubs or golf courses, usually under the supervision of a head of maintenance.

Golf courses around the world are famous for their lush expanses of green grass, which must be kept irrigated, fertilized, and mowed to regulation length. In addition to maintaining the grass, greenskeepers also usually work on the surrounding landscaping, and they also handle things like sand traps, bunkers, and ponds. Water maintenance is often an important part of a greenskeeper's job: he or she must keep ponds clear and free of weeds to make it relatively easy to retrieve lost balls.

In addition to handling gardening tasks associated with the course, a greenskeeper also sets flags and tee markers; flags are moved periodically for different tournaments and to keep the course challenging. This means that they must understand the rules of golf, and be able to follow directions from the course designer. When greenskeepers are working on the green, players usually yield the right of way to allow the greenskeeper to make changes to the course as needed, unless the greenskeeper specifically indicates that it is appropriate to go ahead and play.

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People who want to work in this field usually receive training in the landscaping and horticulture field, to learn how to lay out gold courses and care for them. They may also play or study golf, in order to have a greater depth of understanding about what is involved in the care of a golf course. Greenskeepers must also be prepared to spend a lot of time outdoors, and to work with heavy equipment such as power mowers and turf cutters.

Some people who start out as greenskeepers may go on to become course designers, laying out golf courses of their very own. Their experience as greenskeepers and knowledge of the game both come in useful in course design, as they can lay out interesting, dynamic, challenging, and beautiful courses which are enjoyable to play and organized in a way that makes them easier to maintain.

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