Course CodeBHT202
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn to Become a Greenkeeper

Sports turf is different to other types of turf in various ways. Primarily though, the major difference is that sports turf may suffer more wear and tear than ornamental lawns. An ornamental lawn may be walked over very little, and when it is walked on, traffic is generally mild. The amount of damage which a sports turf suffers will depend upon:

  • The amount of use it gets
  • The type of games which are being played on it
  • Weather conditions (e.g. it is more likely to be damaged in very wet weather)
  • Construction factors (e.g. soil type, drainage)
  • The type of turf cultivars growing in the turf
  • The health of the turf (and related to this, the level of care and maintenance).

A skilled sports turf manager must know how to evaluate and address any such problems as they arise.

Learn to maintain sports turf surfaces

Study this course to learn about the differences between sports turfs and ornamental ones. Learn about a range of different grass species used in sports turf and reasons to choose them. Find out about different types of mowers and other turf care equipment and their use in maintaining sports turf. Learn about cultivation methods and timing, special techniques to prepare surfaces for play, methods to minimise damage and repair sports turf, fertilisers, drainage and irrigation, control of pests, as well as how to plan a maintenance program.   


The content is directed to managing the maintenance of sports turf, with ten lessons as follows:

1.  Turf Variety Selection
Turf Varieties in Parks
Feature Lawns
Picnic Areas
Sports Grounds
Turf Species; bent, fescue, rye, kentucky, couch, etc
Turf Cultivar Selection Criteria
Mixing Varieties

2.  Mowing
Types of Mowing Equipment
Mower Types; slasher, cylinder, flail
Preparation before mowing
How to Mow
Leaf Rakes and Vacuums
After Mowing
Changing Mower Blades
Mowing Sports Turf
Sports Turf Mowers
Problems that can Occur when Mowing
Options for Mower Power Systems; 2 stroke, 4 stroke, electric
Hover Mowers, Ride on Mowers
Choosing a Mower

3.  Cultivation Techniques
When to Cultivate
Methods of Cultivation
Spiking, coring, drilling, grooving, forking, raking, air blast, etc.
Coring and hollow tinning for Sports Turf
Scarifying (Grooving)
Dethatching (Vertical Mowing)

4.  Preparing for Play on Sports grounds
Dew Removal
Water Removal
Vertical Mowing
Marking for Play

5.  Preparing for Play of Greens
Golf, Croquet, Lawn Tennis, Lawn Bowls
Cricket Wicket Preparation

6.  Turf Protection and Preservation
Managing Use
Minimising Damage on Turf
Why Repair Turf
How to Repair Turf
Reconditioning Soil
Reducing weed populations in turf
Managing turf Pests
Managing Demand
Repairing Turf

7.  Irrigation and Drainage
Travelling Sprinkler Systems
Quick Coupling Valve Systems
Manually Operated Irrigation Systems
Semi automatic Irrigation Systems
Automatic Irrigation Systems
Sprinklers, Valves, Controllers
Management of Water Features on Golf Courses
Improving Surface Drainage after Construction
Understanding Soils and Drainage, and Soil Compaction

8.  Soil Treatment and Sprays
Major Nutrients and Trace Elements
Fertilizer Types
Fertilizer Application
Soil pH and Soil Amendments
Cation Exchange Capacity
Pest Control; ants, beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers and crickets, leatherjackets
Disease Control; viruses, bacteria, fungi

9.  Evaluate Maintenance Facilities
Bent Grass for Bowling Greens
Couch Grass Greens
Analysis of Park Maintenance
Park Maintenance Tasks

10. Develop a Management Plan
Common Environmental Problems; foliage burn, pollution, lack of water
Drainage Problems in Turf
Plants have Varying Tolerance Levels
Programming Works; maintenance, new works, construction crew
Weed Control Methods
Developing a Management Plan for a Specific Site


  • Select turf varieties to suit different sports surface requirements, in different climates and soil types.
  • Select, use and maintain mowing equipment, appropriate to different types of sports turf situations.
  • To determine appropriate applications for different turf cultivation techniques, including spiking, coring, thatch removal, and other common practices
  • To develop skills in preparing different types of sportsgrounds for play, including both major and minor events.
  • To develop skills in preparing different types of greens for play, including both major and minor events.
  • To determine appropriate procedures for minimising deterioration of a sports turf; maximising its use and keeping the cost of maintenance at an acceptable level.
  • Explain the irrigation and drainage requirements for sports turf fields.
  • Determine appropriate treatments for the management of soil condition, including fertility, in sports turfs.
  • Explain alternative procedures for sports turf maintenance, used for different types of facilities and evaluate procedures being used to maintain different types of facilities.
  • Determine the resources required to maintain a selected sports turf; and develop management plans for different types of sports turf facilities.

Duration: 100 hours

Extract from Course Notes


  • Practice sessions could be held elsewhere as much as possible.
  • Use covers to protect against heavy rain, or to cover valuable turf wickets during practice sessions.
  • Using sponging/soaking machines to remove excess water.
  • Delaying the start of the season till surfaces are fully prepared.
  • Rescheduling games to other locations, or to when the surface is better suited for use.
  • Temporary mid-season repairs
  • Changing the areas of most intense play, such as remarking playing areas, rotating playing strip on a turf wicket, moving the tee location on golf courses, moving the hole on golf greens, etc.
  • For top class turf facilities use air blowers, or even helicopters hovering above the ground to help dry out the surface.

Example of Assignment:

1. Submit your evaluation of being maintaining the different turf facilities investigated in
your first Set Task.

2. What specific wear problems did you find for each of five types of turf facilities investigated in the first Set Task? Explain why you think each of these problems has occurred. Include a copy of the questionnaire\chart\table you developed.

3. Describe/explain alternative procedures that you feel could be used to treat the wear problems identified in Question 1.

4. How might maintenance procedures for maintaining sports turf at multi-use facilities differ from those of single use facilities? Explain, and give examples.

What is Involved in Creating a New Sports Ground?
Building a sports ground at it's simplest, might involve simply leveling the ground on a paddock, spreading some top soil, and mowing anything that grows. This method may be inexpensive; but it has many potential problems.
  • Sticks, stones or other hard objects on or near the surface can cause damage to players who fall on them. Even if not exposed initially; over time, this foreign material can come to the soil.
  • The soil quality may be far from ideal, hence the health and quality of turf may be poor
  • The turf can contain undesirable species (eg. plants with prickles, or that cause allergic affects with human skin.
  • Drainage may be poor or irregular. If there is inconsistency over the surface, one part may be too wet and slippery while another part is too hard and dry.
 A more effective approach might be a work program as follows:


1. Site clearance
Remove weeds and rubbish, grub out roots, break up and remove roadways, fences, building foundations etc.

2. General preparation and initial grading
Plough to top soil depth, cultivate to break up plough furrows, and use a grader to remove mounds and fill in hollows to produce an even surface with running falls and even slopes across the whole area.

3. Major grading
Strip top soil and stockpile to one side. Adjust levels in sub soil, smoothing out irregularities; cultivate sub soil and level out sub soil; replace top soil which was stockpiled; cultivate the whole area into the sub soil (using a grader or other large machine with rippers); plough the whole site to top soil depth and grade level.
At this grading stage additional imported topsoil may be added to the surface. During this phase, soil additives such as lime or gypsum may be added.

4. Sub soil cultivation
Cultivate the whole area into the top soil layers. If sand slit drainage is installed, this stage may be omitted.

5. Drainage works
Sub surface PVC drains installed throughout.

6. General cultivation
Plough the site using tine cultivators or heavy disc harrows to a shallow depth to create a fine tilth, then blade grade the entire area.
There should be at least 10 cm (4 inches) of good topsoil at any point on the surface. At this stage lime or gypsum may be added (in which case it should be then cultivated into the soil).

7. Final grading and seed bed preparation
Use harrows and a roller to produce a fine tilth and even surface for planting the grass.

8. Planting turf
Turf is planted by seeding, sprigging or sodding.

9. Establishment and cleanup
This is the stage from planting through to the point where the surface is ready for use. This may involve such things as watering, rolling, mowing, collecting stones etc.
Initial mowing should be high (cut 5cm/2 inches or higher). Lower the height of the cut over a period of mows.


Opportunities Post-studies

This course is of value to people who have an interest in sports grass and playing surfaces. It will also appeal to anyone with a general interest in turf care and repair. People who take this course are most likely those working in or aspiring to work in:

Sports turf maintenance
Green keeping
Lawn mowing
Grounds maintenance
Parks & gardens

The course will also be of value to people wishing to include a sports turf maintenance service as part of an existing mowing, turf care or landscaping business.


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