Living life in the fast lane!
Reading time: 10 minutes
Living life in the fast lane
Recently Pete Newton, irrigation sales rep here at Reesink, was interviewed by Phil Helmn at Pitchcare. The resulting article covers his career choices that led him to Reesink and provides a fascinating look into the possibilities within our industry. A must-read for anyone thinking of a career change but who wish to remain in the world of turf.
For those of you that are fortunate to know Pete, you will know that his current role is that of an irrigation technical sales rep with Reesink Turfcare UK. That said, this article is not commercially orientated in any way, I simply caught up with Pete to discuss his varied career and his choices he made along his journey which led him into the job he now enjoys. Restricting ourselves to only one speed and one lane within our industry may not be wise, we should embrace and understand that all our roles run parallel, and we all rely on each other for success. That’s what makes our industry so amazing, the diversity of jobs we can all enjoy and all we have to do is chose a ‘lane.’ What’s wrong with changing careers from time to time if that spices up our life/career or prospects?
Personally, I have often wondered what it might be like to alter career paths, I wondered what the drivers or desires are to steer you onto an alternative ‘lane’. I recently caught up with Pete to chat about his change of direction and wanted to understand what made him want to switch careers, especially as he had already reached the top in the greenkeeper ranks. Undoubtably, Pete is a great example of someone grasping this opportunity extremely well and his story is one which I hope some of us contemplating alternative routes within our industry will find interesting as you read his ‘real life’ experience?
I have always been intrigued by the many opportunities we can all experience in our wonderful world of turf management and wanted to understand what drivers Pete felt to swap trades and move ‘over to the other side of the fence’ especially as he made the jump whilst at the height of the turf management ladder.
Early days at Rockliffe Hall GC
In the beginning…
So, how did it all start? Well, like most of us, Pete began working at his local golf club in the spring of 1997 at Rochdale Golf Club, Lancashire as part of his studies working towards his HND in turf science and golf course management at Myerscough College. Upon completion of his three year course (which he passed with flying colours), he successfully gained employment as assistant greenkeeper at the prestigious Marriott Forest of Arden in the midlands and quickly climbed the ranks to first assistant during his five and a half years of service. Pete then moved to another Marriott venue, this time Worseley Park, again as first assistant before joining The Belfry team as deputy greenkeeper on The Brabazon course in January 2006. Then, Pete’s big break came with the move to Rockliffe Hall Golf and Spa two years later as head greenkeeper then promotion to the role of course manager. Soon after, Pete’s new role saw him take on the grow-in of their brand-new golf course, turning an adjacent potato field into a five-star world class venue we know it as today. “The grow-in was an amazing experience,” explained Pete. “It was a huge learning curve for me but one which helped me develop my organisational and communication skills”. Pete went on. “I’m very proud of that team which successfully completed the grow-in of the new championship course”. During his greenkeeper career he has been fortunate to be involved in many tournament preparations, highlights are PGA Seniors English Open 2013/2014 at Rockliffe Hall, Quinn Direct British Masters 2006/2007 at The Belfry, JJB Euro Pro Challenge 2004/2005 at Worsley Park, Daily Telegraph British Masters 2003/2004 at The Forest of Arden, Compass Group English Open 2000/2001/2002 at The Forest of Arden and finally PGA Seniors Tour 2000 at The Belfry. Pete was also busy during his greenkeeping career gaining a clutch of continued personal development achievements, highlights are-
Toro/DeVere greenkeeper of the year 2006
B.I.G.G.A. delegate Las Vegas G.C.S.A.A. convention
59 Club greenkeeping team of the year 2014 Rockcliffe Hall
Master Greenkeeper status 2015
B.A.S.I.S. foundation in amenity chemical control
Former mentor at the F.T.M.I.
Fast forward eight years from his time at Rockliffe Hall, and Pete grasped the opportunity to join the Reesink irrigation team as irrigation and aeration field sales and support operative under the stewardship of Rob Jackson and has, as they say, never looked back in the seven years he has held his new role!
The world of H2O
His key deliverables (other than the obvious sales objectives) are wide and varied but consists mainly of support and assistance to the greenkeeper/groundsman community in all its forms. Admittedly, Pete does a lot of travelling as part of his role, which isn’t for everyone, and Pete is the first to acknowledge this, but the positive element is that he gets to travel up and down the country seeing and experiencing some amazing golf clubs and sports grounds and meeting a wealth of turf managers. As I probe Pete about the strenuous travelling, he replies, ”When you love your job, it stops being a job,” laughed Pete. “It feels like I’m getting paid to see my mates”, this is due, in part, to his networking whilst he worked within the greenkeeper ranks.
Pete is a natural born communicator, and this aspect of his role is one which he not only he relishes but thrives on. ”Put simply, I enjoy meeting people” Pete explained. ”My role means I get to meet lots of my turf manager colleagues up and down the country every day. This business is all about people, building trust and through honest conversations building respect”. Pete continued, ”I get great satisfaction from helping turf managers understand the intricacies of key water management fundamentals and how best to use water efficiently which is number one for me personally. I help support turf managers by explaining topics such as-
Water storage and aeration potentials.
Sprinkler technology and ways to improve their efficiency.
Control systems and getting the best out of them.
Water sustainability (this can be old or new systems).
Budgeting assistance for everyday irrigation project work.
Fault finding and assistance on problem solving.
Pete went on to explain, ”It’s rewarding to be acknowledged as a turf professional, not just an irrigation guy.” Pete clarified, ”Greenkeepers and groundsmen who know my background, which has been built as working relationships develop, are more comfortable reaching out for a little turf management advise. It’s extremely fulfilling to be able to help and assist colleagues by supporting them in that way. It means that I get to share my experiences and knowledge from all my previous roles and think that it demonstrates that all our paths (or jobs) within the industry are intrinsically linked”.
Workshop hands on training
Life in the classroom
Pete has always looked forward to new possibilities within his role. Pete’s innovative eye is always on the lookout for developing fresh opportunities, one which now has led him into the world of education running alongside his day-to-day role. Reesink have been extremely supportive in his endeavours giving continual backing and this, coupled with Rob’s encouragement has helped Pete expand his potential in this area. As previously mentioned, Pete is an excellent communicator and his no-nonsense approach to teaching is one which has been appreciated by many who have enrolled on his classes to date.
Pete explained, “For a long time I have felt there has been a distinct lack of training and education geared towards the world of irrigation. With water becoming an even greater natural commodity I believed that with my newfound experience I could give back everything I have learnt to help support my turf colleagues manage their water efficiently”. Pete explained. “My style is very hands on and the feedback I receive from the guys is that they appreciate how I explain the mechanics of irrigation so to speak.” Pete expanded, “The training is aimed at helping achieve national vocational qualifications and isn’t just in the workshop or in a classroom, it’s also out on the sports ground or golf course and we really get to grips with all the components of irrigation systems. It doesn’t matter what make or model the sprinklers or systems are this is about how things work and how they can be maintained or fixed”. Interestingly, Pete has modified his delivery now to encompass ‘why’ turf needs water and has moved into the agronomical aspect of irrigation and how it affects turf surfaces. “It’s been great to be able to deliver classes which delve into agronomics and irrigation” Pete explained. “My qualifications and experience have enabled me to deliver a greater depth of learning and it’s extremely rewarding.”
To conclude, I’d like to thank Pete for sharing his experiences and his story so far. It was fascinating to understand that there are many possibilities within our industry which we all could realise if we so desire. I hope that Pete’s story has inspired anyone thinking of changing pace or direction and hope that it has demonstrated there is certainly more than one ‘lane’ to choose if you want a career change but wish to remain in the world of turf.
Classroom agronomic learning
What’s in the shed (well…car boot)!
Piston Valve insertion tools
Long nose pliers
Spare irrigation nozzles
Sprinkler and valve demonstration units
An overnight bag of clothes (just in case!)
1. Who are you? Pete Newton.
2. Family status. Married to Aniela with two children, Kaylan and Ethan.
3. Who’s your hero and why? My dad because he taught me how to be me.
4. What’s been the highlight of your career so far? Helping the grounds team at Rochdale AFC most Saturday’s.
5. If your younger self saw you now, what would he think? Why is he still skint?
6. Which famous people wind you up? Any fake, orange, plastic filled people being promoted as celebrities.
7. What job would you love, other than your own? Footballer.
8. What was the most embarrassing moment in your life? Accidentally dropping the practice goal posts with Josh Haigh (HG at Rochdale AFC) with a full crowd watching! To this day, pretty sure it was his fault though!
9. What is your favourite film? The blind side.
10. What scares you? The wife and Jack Daniels.
11. What would your autobiography be called…and who would play you in the film? Can I have your honest opinion? Played by Clint Eastwood.
12. What is your favourite sport? Football.
13. What would you cast into room 101? Fake plastic so called celebrities.
14. Which historical time and place would you most like to visit? Medieval times during Roman Empire.
15. Do you have a lifetime ambition? Nope!
16. What’s your favourite smell? Pizza.
17. Which three people, living or dead, would you invite to a dinner party? Clint Eastwood, Liam Gallagher and Paul Gascoigne.
18. What’s the best advice you have ever been given? Always cover yourself with an email.
19. What’s your favourite piece of trivia? A robin red breast is called this even though its breast is actually orange! This is because when it was discovered there was no word in the dictionary for orange and the nearest colour was red.
20. What’s your favourite piece of kit? My waterproofs.
21. Which three albums would you take to a desert island? Ocean colour scene – Molesley Shoals, Oasis – Definitely Maybe and Richard Ashcroft – Alone with Everybody.
22. What three words best describes yourself? Honest, opinionated and helpful.
23. What is the single most useful thing you could tell a 16-year-old greenkeeper? Don’t burn bridges with people in this industry, it’s too small and everyone knows someone.
24. What talent (SUPERPOWER) would you like to have? To be able to fly.