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James Melville - Greenkeeper, Victoria Park Golf Course, Brisbane City Council

James Melville
'I work on the day-to-day care of a golf course. Being outdoors is probably my favourite thing. I wouldn't like sitting in an office all day.'

Winner of Apprentice of the Year 2007, James Melville stays busy keeping the grounds of the Victoria Park Golf Course green. As greenkeeper, James maintains the lush fairways between dodging stray golf balls and relocating eco-friendly habitats for the local wildlife.




What does your job involve?

I work on the day-to-day care of a golf course. So I spend my day mowing, fertilising, irrigating, planting trees, dealing with pests and diseases and solving whatever problems come up.

What interesting projects have you worked on?

Victoria Park has been an ongoing project for the past three years because there have been a lot of changes to the place, mainly with the construction of the inner north parkway. They put a tunnel through half the golf course which buses now run through. A lot of that work was underground but the golf course had to be redesigned to accommodate that. There was also a driving range that was developed in the middle, and we had to utilise land in a part of the course that hadn’t been used before. The building of the Inner City Bypass on one side of the golf course meant we lost about a hundred metres of space. A few fairways had to be changed and a few environmental habitats had to be rearranged. In addition, the drought has been causing more havoc so a few more appropriate trees had to be planted.

How much input do you have in the development of projects?

The big picture design is not something I get involved in, but when it comes down to the finer details like tree selection, the ways that the irrigation may run and what would work in terms of drainage, I do get to contribute in the decision-making process.

What do you like most about your job?

Being outdoors is probably my favourite thing. I wouldn’t like sitting in an office all day. I’m more of a practical-minded person, I need to see things happening. I’m happy outdoors.

What do you like the least?

Probably those really hot days and those really cold mornings are the worst part about it, though generally the early start isn’t too bad because you beat the traffic.

How is the work–life balance in your job?

It’s pretty good. Because we start early in the mornings we finish at a reasonable time in the afternoon. We get home and still have an afternoon free. We only have to work every second weekend for three hours in the morning, just mowing greens which isn’t too bad. So it’s a good lifestyle I guess.

What personal attributes would you say it takes to do your job?

You definitely have to like working outdoors. You have to be a fit energetic type of person. Obviously it’s best to be interested in the field you’re working in and be willing to learn. In my job, a love of golf helps so that you can appreciate what you’re doing. These days you also have to be aware that greenkeeping has an impact on the environment. You have to look at what you’re doing and see if you’re doing it in a sustainable way.

Where do you see your career going?

I think I’ll be here for a while because I am really enjoying my work. The council provides a good workplace and they’re interested in safety and looking after their employees. They listen to you and they support you in taking on further education which I’m doing at the moment.

What further education are you doing?

I’m doing a Bachelor of Applied Sciences at university and the council is supporting me in this.

How about the salary?

In comparison to similar golf course jobs it’s quite good. It’s one of those jobs that has a great lifestyle – that’s what I love!

What would you say to anyone looking to follow the same career path?

Be prepared to work hard in lots of different situations that aren’t always pleasant. You can be stuck half a metre under the ground fiddling around with irrigation which isn’t much fun but you just have to keep the big picture in mind. There’s nothing too scary about the job.

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