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Doing a Sportsturf Internship

Niall Rogan on his internship in america
Niall Rogan embarked on an internship with the Irish Institute of Sports Surfaces to gain more experience in sportsturf

Internships offer a vital opportunity for students to experience a career first and gain extraordinary skills in their chosen field. Niall Rogan explains what it is like to do an internship with the Irish Institute of Sports Surfaces

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Sports & Parks

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17 August 2015 | 0

How did you get into the industry and where did you work prior to your current position?

I got into this industry through a summer job I had at a local golf course. At the time I was employed just to water in the evenings.

What training and education did you undertake?

I attended a two year program on sports turf management at CAFRE College of Agriculture, Farming and Rural Enterprise in Northern Ireland.

Was there one person who inspired you?

I have always been interested in the industry, but my employer Brian Barnes really inspired me to take it as far as I can with help in education, practical knowledge and most of all mentoring me to deliver the best standard I could.

What are you learning on your internship?

Most of what I am learning is the difference in design to a golf course and how the different culture expect it to play. I think this is a vital learning opportunity as it opens me up to the world of golf on a global level. The great thing about this internship is that it is also about learning and taking part in the American culture that surrounds me on a daily basis, which has been a brilliant experience.

What do you do each day?

I get involved with all parts of course maintenance and learning how they are done using different techniques. On the weekend I am given my own team that I have to delegate jobs between and make sure that all jobs are carried out safely and efficiently. It is a valuable learning curve to anyone that plans on taking on a management role in the industry.

How does the USA differ from Ireland greenkeeping?

For me the biggest difference has been the climate. The course I am on is  full fine fescue which is similar to what is used in Ireland but to see the plant react differently to methods used is fascinating, especially because the area I am in is currently in a drought so water management is a big issue.

What cultural and maintenance practices are you learning most about?

Irrigation has been a big lesson for me, although I had done a fair bit of it before I had never dealt with it in such a hot climate and given that there is a drought and restrictions on what we can use the conservation of water and application of it to get the most of what we can out of it to keep an overall healthy plant has been a challenge but is great to see when your methods start to show results.

What are the pros and cons?

The pro of it is that it keeps the plant healthy and colored which is great for aesthetics, but over watering can lead to compaction (especially with the amount of traffic we get around our course) which can strangle the root zone and weaken the plant, another con would be that it can also make the turf more susceptible to weeds or other undesirable growth such as poa.

How did you hear about this internship opportunity?

My employer put me in contact with the Irish Institute of Sport Surfaces which were unbelievably helpful they let me know exactly what I would need to do and organised everything in a time scale that I needed to get me here for the new season.

Would you recommend this internship opportunity?

I would highly recommend it to anybody that has a real interest in turfgrass and would like to further their knowledge in the industry as it has not only been a great experience but an invaluable learning curve to take my next step in what I plan on getting out of this industry.

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