Katy Castle – Inspiring other women to join the industry

Katy Castle – 1 of 3 females to complete a Level 2 in Golf Greenkeeping in the UK.
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Would you like to start by telling us a bit about yourself, your current role, previous roles and general interests?
At the time of writing, I’m 21 years old and a female assistant Greenkeeper at The Caversham home of Reading Golf Club. I’ve been there for 5 years and have passed my Level 2 in Golf Greenkeeping.

, I recently started my Level 3 in Golf Greenkeeping in which I hope to complete in the next 2 years. Prior to my Level 2 before I was assistant Greenkeeper I was an apprentice who wanted to learn so much more about Greenkeeping…there’s a lot more to it than just cutting grass! I definitely prefer an active job as I’ve always been active; I enjoy running (have done a few charity runs which I love as it’s raising money for a good cause), I enjoy exercising which is one of many reasons I love Greenkeeping because I’m always on the move.

What training have you done and what training do you plan to do?
I have completed my Level 2 in Golf Greenkeeping and I’m currently studying my Level 3.
What is it that appeals to you about greenkeeping and what job satisfaction does it give you over and above the other career opportunities you have been fortunate to experience or had an opportunity to pursue but chose not to?
I think it’s honestly such as satisfying job especially in the summer when you’re cutting then you look back and everything is lovely and striped up. I take alot of pride in my work and I like to think my attention to detail is pretty good; when my work looks good it pushes me to work harder and become better at my job. I think for me when my I’ve done my job for example, if I’ve cut greens or fairways etc in the morning and then I’m out on the course after, I look back and think wow that looks good and I’m proud of myself and my co-workers because the course looks good and it is down to us. This is my second job, I started when I finished school, prior to it I had a part time job at a garden centre but it wasn’t for me as I like to be moving around being busy like it is in this industry.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy the fact that I have more knowledge now but also the fact that there is always room for improvement and that you can always learn more.
Greenkeeping teams in the UK are still almost entirely male-based. How have you found working in a team of guys; what would you say are the pros and cons?
I personally think I’m at a slight advantage as I work with my Uncle who is deputy head and mechanic, he helped me into the job when I finished school. When I first started I did find it very difficult if I’m honest, I was young and some of the guys didn’t know how to speak to me, understandably, I was also quite quiet as it was all men! But now I’ve found my feet.
– Pros: learnt to stick up for myself, depending on the age of staff…the older team give you alot of advice.
– Cons: some men can be a little inappropriate but you just have to stand up for yourself in that case, some people are judgemental, if there are no women aswell as you amongst your team sometimes you can feel a little like an outsider…very rare though if you have a good team.
golf, course, maintenance, team, greenkeepers, turf, turfing,
Katy and the team after they had put down 6500 m2 of turf over the space of 4 days, around their bunkers, with the help of Ely Construction team who have re-done all of the bunkers, 3 greens and tees on every hole.
Is greenkeeping a good career for women?
100%, I don’t see why not! I think it puts some women off as it’s a male dominant environment, I’ve had a couple of not so nice encounters but the lovely people I’ve worked with and met definitely outweighs that but I think that’s just life. It’s a great career as you can do so much with it.
What’s the best thing you’ve learned during your career?
I’ve learnt how to drive and manoeuvre different sized vehicles and also that I should believe in myself more and be more confident!
Are there any challenges that you’ve overcome that you are really proud of?
My first year was quite difficult as I got abit of stick from some people but I pushed through because I enjoyed the job so much, at the time I was unsure if I’d stay but looking back now I’m so glad I didn’t give up. Adding to this, my first winter was super tough…it got down to -7 degrees, we said if I can get through that then I’ll be fine! And here I am 5 years later still loving it!
ride, on, lawn, mower, john deere, golf, course,
Katy cutting fairways in the evening in preparation for Jamega Tour.
What’s your funniest greenkeeping moment?
Funny but embarrassing moment, I was asked to go to my course manager and ask for: Tartan paint, left handed screw driver, spirit level bubble and a long weight. I didn’t process what was being asked I just thought right ok I’ll ask Jon when I see him…however as I was saying it to Jon I quickly realised that it was a joke to see if I’d fall for it and of course I did!
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Definitely becoming 1 out of 3 females to pass their Level 2 in Golf Greenkeeping.
What are your future goals?
To complete my Level 3, to volunteer at a few events and to eventually work my way up! I’ve also applied for Toro Student Greenkeeper of the year.
Favorite sport?
Honestly, I do enjoy watching football, when I watch golf I’m not really paying much attention to the actual golf sport, I’m paying attention to the course.
Favorite sportsperson?
Possibly Phil Foden…quite a hard decision if I’m honest!
Katy cutting Tees
What’s your dream job?
May sound cliché, but to get paid for doing what I enjoy…which is the situation I’m in right now! I don’t really see it as a job, more so a hobby.
What’s your ultimate retirement goal?
To have inspired more women into this industry and more female greenkeepers in charge of golf courses. Also the obvious…be financially stable.
What advice would you give to young women who may be considering a career in greenkeeping and turf management?
If you want to do it, do it and don’t let anything or anyone hold you back. Don’t let negative opinions outweigh the good because if you enjoy it then who cares what anyone thinks? It is quite intimidating at first but once you’re used to it and they are used to you, it will be absolutely fine. I work amongst a great team and they treat me no different.
Katy Castle hand cutting greens
Many thanks to Katy for taking the time to be a part of the article. We wish you all the best.
Brad – IGFH

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