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Embarking on an internship

Tom Farrell working in America
Internships give students an opportunity to work in some of the world's top facilities

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


Sports & Parks

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4 August 2015

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

I started working in Tara Glen Golf Club in 2012 under Tim Popplewell as a summer job while I was studying horticulture at Waterford I.T. I found that I enjoyed it and I then decided to study turfgrass as my specialist subject in college. I returned to work at Tara Glen for the next two summers.

What training and education did you undertake?

I have a degree in horticulture, specializing in turfgrass. I also hold PA 1 and 6 spraying certificates that I completed through KDC Training in Portlaoise. I also received a lot of training at Tara Glen while I was working there in all areas of the golf course industry.

Was there one person who inspired you?

Tim Popplewell and Paul Ryan at Tara Glen gave me a lot of time and training as they knew I was interested in becoming a greenkeeper – so in a way they did inspire me.

What are you Learning on your Internship?

I have gained a lot of hands on experience – from cutting greens, rolling, top dressing, cutting cups, solid tining. I have also learned about the program they are running to encourage Bent Grass over POA in greens.

What do you do each day

I start work at 5.00 a.m. I help Derek, the assistant greenkeeper, to set up for the morning . At 5.30 a.m. I start my course set up job- cutting cups, tees service, bunkers, cutting greens. When I’m finished this work my jobs vary from sodding. top dressing, sod tining, – what ever needs doing on the course.

How does the USA differ from Ireland Greenkeeping?

The size – I came from a course where three of us worked on the grounds. There are thirty staff working on the grounds here and because of this the attention to detail is much more important here.

What cultural and maintenance practices are you learning most about?

Jeff Johnson, Head Greenkeeper, is running a program on the greens where he is encouraging Bent Grass over POA. This is achieved by not over feeding (by using a lot of bio stimulants – seaweed, fish meal and humic acid and milasus or watering). We try to minimise wear from machines by using hand mowers. To stop POA self seeding he also uses a wetting agent called Revaution which does not allow POA to thrive.

What are the pros and cons of doing an intership?

Pros: I have learned a lot and made friends. I have got to see some of the USA and am enjoying it all.

Cons: You have to leave your family – but it’s only for a short while so its worth it.

How did you hear about this Internship Opportunity?

While I was studying, one of the other students went through the same program and enjoyed it. I was looking for an opportunity to gain more experience and also to travel.

Would you recommend doing an internship?

I would recommend it for some one looking to gain experience. I have learned a lot so far and I have made some good friends. There is much to be gained if you are prepared to work hard.

If you are looking for a career in horticulture or greenkeeping the Irish Institute of Sports Surface offer opportunities to train in these fields in the USA and Ireland. Participants will experience life training with high profile employers in PGA tournament standard golf courses and highly competent horticultural growers and producers. For more information on their internship programme visit the Irish Institute of Sports Surface website.

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