The Groundsman's Year

Graham

Introduction

Few people’s working lives are as dictated by the passing of the season as The Avenue groundsman.

Graham Brooks and his assistant Ben are out in all weathers maintaining not only the grass, but the club’s reputation. The LTA’s grass court consultant described The Avenue courts as “among the best in the country”.

As well as a Seniors’ ITF tournament, the club hosts a high standard of play at county week. This helps our relationship with the LTA and singles The Avenue out as a centre of excellence.

But excellence comes at a cost: members pay more than £30,000 a year on machinery, raw materials and Graham’s contract.

Graham, and before him Mike Brooks (no relation), have built up a proven and established management process that has served the club well.

So, we thought we’d give you an idea of Graham’s work over the year in a series of articles based around the passing of the seasons.

The End of Summerv2

The end of the summer

Autumn – the end of summer but a new beginning

In September, following the busy summer, the courts are gradually taken out of use. By the end of the month they will all be closed in preparation for spring the following year (still seven or eight months away!).

autunmv2

Court 5 at the end of August

The grass is scarified in three separate directions with a Graden Scarifier, one court at a time. This loosens the soil and rips up the thatch, a layer of organic matter which has accumulated on the surface. This also begins the processing of breaking up the soil where it has compacted – particularly around the baselines.

 

Scarifying v 2

Scarifying the court surface

Scarifying v 4

Scarifying the court surface

Scarifying v Verticutting

Scarifying v Verticutting

The surface is then raked and all the dead grass, moss and soil removed. Half a skip of detritus is removed from each court.

A verticutter, which slices verticially through the sward rather than across the top, does a final, very close cut and clean. Finally the grass is also mowed to help remove any remaining debris.

Raking v2

Raking up the grass, thatch and soil

Scarified court

Scarified court website