GMA partners with Lawn Tennis Association and All England Club to boost UK grounds team skills

A major new training initiative designed to continue to advance tennis grass court surface excellence throughout England has been established by the Grounds Management Association (GMA) in conjunction with the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) and The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC).  The GMA will be supporting the wider work of the AELTC and LTA to improve the quality of grass court venues in the UK, through designing and delivering a new training initiative for groundsmen.

Focusing on expanding the skill sets and career development pathways of the grounds teams at eight major tennis clubs, the GMA – the leading membership organisation for the management of sports pitches, landscape and amenity facilities in the UK - will be delivering a series of one-day training courses to enable grounds management teams to gain the Level 2 Technical Certificate and Level 3 Technical Diploma in Turf Surface Management, plus the Level 4 Professional Certificate in Turf Management. 

The scheme, which will include GMA membership, will involve the grounds teams at all UK-based pre-Wimbledon tournament venues. 

Funded by the LTA and the AELTC, which are committed to maintaining world-class grass playing surfaces, and delivered by the GMA, the programme is being spearheaded by the AELTC’s head groundsman, Neil Stubley, as part of his role in the LTA’s Grass Court Support Group.

Commenting, Stubley said: “I’m delighted we are working even more closely with the GMA on an investment by the LTA and the AELTC to support their commitment to the continuous professional development of our grounds management teams and the delivery of excellent grass courts for world-class tournaments. To do so requires grounds management professionals with the best skills, knowledge and expertise, and the GMA training programme will provide exactly that.” 

Olly Scadgell, director of major events for the LTA said: “The work we are collectively undertaking to improve the quality and sustainability of grass courts across the country is all part of a wider approach to continue to strengthen and protect grass court tennis in GB. This work with the GMA to help develop and grow our grounds management teams is a very important part of the plan, and vital in supporting the delivery of excellent grass courts at our important pre-Wimbledon tournaments.”

The clubs’ grounds management teams have become members of the GMA, and will participate in training needs analyses run by the GMA and Stubley to determine the requirements of individual team members, who will then undergo training at the appropriate level(s):

Level 2 - Technical Turf Maintenance (refresher), covering a wide range of turf culture aspects essential for the effective maintenance of a turf grass surface:
•    Standards: sports and amenity surfaces
•    User requirements and expectations
•    Grass identification
•    Pest and disease, as well as weed identification 
•    Sustainable use of pesticide regulations
•    Integrated pest management: cultural and physical controls
•    Good practice in carrying out maintenance work, including soils and weather conditions: the impact on maintenance work.

Level 3 - Technical Turf Management, which develops and reinforces applied technical management skills and knowledge and is ideal for experienced employees and line managers:
•    Selecting appropriate soils
•    Soils: problems of and dealing with compaction
•    Irrigation management
•    Grasses - choosing seeds and cultivars
•    Managing nutrient levels for optimum playing surfaces
•    Integrated pest management: developing a plan
•    Managing surfaces with Performance Quality Standards.

Level 4 - Effective Line Management Skills, for senior grounds staff:
•    Stress management
•    Time management
•    Influencing others
•    Media handling
•    Getting the most from your team.

“Today’s turf professionals, especially those at venues which attract global TV audiences, are under increasing pressure to deliver high-quality playing surfaces,” says GMA chief executive Geoff Webb. “This collaboration enables the GMA to meet our ambition of serving our members through the seasons by raising standards with such prestigious partners. 

“The LTA, AELTC and Neil Stubley are to be congratulated on instigating an initiative that will see an increased number of tennis grounds teams being fully armed with the wide range of knowledge and skills that nowadays are essential to maintaining grass courts that are the envy of the world.”