English Golf Courses

Course manager retires after 50 years

Sutton Coldfield GC veteran Alan calls it a day 

ALAN KITE, the course manager at Sutton Coldfield Golf Club, is retiring after 50 years of loyal service to the club he joined straight from school.

Leaving Riland Bedford School in 1962, Alan had one dream: to work in the great outdoors. That dream was realised when he was offered the job of junior
greenkeeper at Sutton Coldfield under the watchful eye of the long-standing head greenkeeper, Jack Toy.

Ironically, though, due to an unusually hard winter that year, he spent the first 14 weeks of his working life indoors. However, things soon picked up and, by the tender age of 21, he had been appointed head greenkeeper.

In 1979, he was promoted to course manager, and that is a position he held up until his recent retirement.

“I shall obviously miss the daily routine and the challenges I have every day of the week,’ said Alan. “I shall miss the camaraderie of my green staff and, in a different way, I shall miss the 6.00am starts to my working day and the traumas that naturally go with such a job.

“Work maintaining a golf course at the very high standards required by today’s golfers has changed dramatically in my time. To begin with, when I started work, golf was not allowed on Sundays, whereas now we have play on seven days of the week, together with earlier starting times. We now also have an irrigation system to programme and maintain, plus much tighter controls on chemicals and general ‘Health and Safety’.

“The job is very much more mechanised than when I started out and this, together with a marked improvement in the growing environment, calls for
much more regular cutting and treatment of both fairways and greens, adding to the overall workload of the greens staff.”

Alan’s wife Gill, who has worked for the club for ten years as a Financial Assistant, is also retiring. Together with Alan, she already gives much of her time to charity work for the Cancer Support Centre and, in addition to his many other interests, in sport in general and walking in particular, they both intend to concentrate even more of their time on this charity.

Alan, who is an honorary member of Sutton Coldfield and a former chairman of the Greenkeepers’ Association, will be replaced by Craig Beet. He comes
from Stourbridge Golf Club and will work alongside Alan, familiarising himself with the club’s systems and working practices, until Alan’s office retirement on his 65th birthday at the beginning of December.

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