A recent survey from the British and International Golf Greenkeepers' Association highlighted that 80% of course managers are worried about a member of their team's mental health

Greenkeeper Mental Health: 80% Worried About A Colleague

Whilst we’ve been stuck working from home, on furlough, going out on our daily walks or our weekly food shops during the pandemic, greenkeepers have been hard at work batting the elements in what has been a very testing winter period.

Our golf courses are currently looking as good as they possibly can be thanks to our greenkeepers’ passionate and professional work.

Throughout the winter we’ve had lots of snow, huge amounts of rain and freezing temperatures, and our courses have been maintained by a greenkeeping team reduced on average by two members due to the pandemic.

If the greens aren’t quite up to speed or the bunkers aren’t to your preference, we really encourage you to think of the positives, appreciate the fresh air and exercise and take into account greenkeepers’ mental health.

A recent BIGGA (British and International Golf Greenkeepers’ Association) survey of more than 200 members said that 7% constantly worry about their own mental health, while another 20% frequently worry and 41% admit to sometimes worrying about their mental state.

A very high 80% said they had worried about the mental health of someone they work with and 8% said that the worries were constant.

BIGGA CEO Jim Croxton thinks that it’s crucial to highlight mental health both before and after these worrying survey results.

“Mental health is quite rightly very high on peoples’ agenda these days particularly in this crisis which I think is affecting everybody’s mental health to an extent because we’ve got worries whether it’s ourselves, whether it’s our job and finances, whether it’s our family members,” Jim told Golf Monthly.

“We’ve certainly seen an upturn in the amount of our members who are concerned about either their own or their colleagues’ mental health.

“Some of this is stress related in terms of, can they manage their golf course? Are they going to have a secure job? Is this rain ever going to stop etc.? 

“But other ones are much more broad, that actually life is pretty tough for a lot of people at the moment and I mean for millions around the country as we battle with the uncertainty.”

Jim doesn’t think that golfers appreciate just how passionate greenkeepers are in doing their utmost to make their golf course as good as it can possibly be.

He highlighted just how personal the relationship between a greenkeeper and their course can be.

“I’ve never met a greenkeeper who is less passionate about the quality of their golf course than anybody who plays it,” Jim said.

“I’m not convinced that golfers recognise how passionate about the golf course greenkeepers are. 

“Whenever you talk to a greenkeeper they always talk about ‘my course, my course this, my course the other,’ it’s personal to them, it’s the piece of land that they’re charged with managing and they take it incredibly personally. 

“So anything that adversely affects the golf course does take its toll.”

Related: 10 things greenkeepers are talking about

Perhaps it’s not something that us golfers think about when the weather is awful.

Yes it might mean we’re a bit annoyed that we can’t play or that the course is a bit muddy but these setbacks will be hugely frustrating to greenkeepers who want to present the course in tip-top shape every single day.

Croxton believes that negative comments about golf courses and their condition can take its toll.

We all love positive feedback and we know that we spend too much energy on the negative comments – but they’re sometimes very difficult to ignore.

“You’ll get 100 guys play a golf course and 90+ really enjoyed it and said either nothing or positive things, but one guy who complains about the pace of the greens or whatever it might be, that’s the comment that tends to stick and we all know this, we all spend far more energy than we should do on the negative comments and not on what are usually far more numerous positive ones but our guys definitely take these things to heart.

“And that’s where the mental health pressure can build up.

“Greenkeeping is quite a solitary occupation. You come together in the yard, you get your equipment and you tend to be going to doing most of the jobs on your own.

“And if you look at all the information around, particularly the prevalence of severe mental health challenges in men, it is amongst people who spend a lot of time on their own in a working environment.

“So these are important things that are important to us, we’ve done a lot of work to try and raise the awareness of this.”

Podcast: Why it’s time to talk about greenkeeper mental health