“I’ve been in the industry for 23 years, and so I can understand the issues greenkeepers and groundsmen are dealing with. It helps that I have hands-on experience,” says Greg.
Greg started out as a qualified architectural technician in 1992. “But I didn’t want to be a dogs body for an architect,” he says. Greenkeeping is in Greg’s family, and having two brothers in the industry encouraged him to specialise in golf course construction, using his ability to read design drawings and capitalising on his project management skills.
He attended Elmwood College in Scotland and did an HNC in Golf Course Management in 1992/93. “After this I decided to get some actual golf course maintenance experience, and went to Germany, where I stayed for 5 years, first as an assistant and then as head greenkeeper for Schloss Schwobber Golf Hotel.
“I was 22 when I first arrived in Germany, and I learned as much as I could, as fast as I could. Because of the language barrier, I had to work a lot of things out myself. And due to legislation restrictions being a lot stricter in Germany, I had to think outside of the box to come up with preventative measures and solutions, working in a very conscientious way,” says Greg.
“I believe people leave to come home, and I always knew I’d come back to Ireland.” Greg settled back in Cork at Charleville Golf Club, a 27-hole parkland course. “This is a course with 9 USGA spec greens and 18 soil based (push up) greens. So I was managing new and traditional greens on a course that was heavily tree lined.”
“After 11 years as head greenkeeper at Charleville, I gained invaluable experience in Golf Course Management. So I can relate to groundsmen and greenkeepers on most issues, from disease pressures, to maintenance, construction, drainage, irrigation and renovation,” he says.
Since starting work at Bayer last November, Greg has wasted no time in forging good relationships with customers, and utilising his knowledge to their benefit.
“Communication is the most important part of my role. I have to let distributors, and in turn, end users, know all the information necessary about products, as well as advice on integrated pest and disease management.
“It’s very important to me to be a good communicator and build strong relationships with people. When questioned, I aim to give clear and definitive answers.
“Recently I was asked about Merit® Turf being withdrawn from the market in the Ireland. One of our customers had read about it on the internet. It’s not withdrawn in Ireland, because we have a separate regulatory authority. As far as my customers are concerned, the Irish label is still active unless the authorities change, in which case you would generally get an 18 month withdrawal notification,” says Greg.
Shifts in industry regulations effect Greg’s job significantly. “But we at Bayer have the people who are on top of this and work through the issues to ensure there are effective products going forward, to overcome new challenges.
Greg is clear that regulation changes are threatening product choice, but that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “As a team we certainly encourage best practice, and the responsible use of products. But Bayer is also a progressive, innovative company, investing in ways to safeguard new pest and disease control solutions for the future,” he says.
A lot of Greg’s role centres around communicating these solutions with distributors and end users. “I can offer advice on all developments with the Bayer product portfolio, and on all turf matters, in order to find answers for greenkeepers and groundsmen, because I’ve been there and encountered hurdles they are experiencing.
“I can offer advice on products, but I also understand a lot of the other issues greenkeepers and groundsmen face,” he adds.