Robert Bayliss has retired as Head Greenkeeper at Weymouth Golf Club in Dorset after an incredible 43 years on the James Braid-designed Parkland Course.
The now 65-year-old Robert originally comes from sports field maintenance and horticulture and started as Head Greenkeeper of the club in 1978 when he was only 22 years old, “He enjoyed his work so much that he stayed until his retirement, over four decades later!
One of Robert’s greatest accomplishments while at Weymouth Golf Club was his involvement in training and education, club accreditation and charity work. He says, “Education and training are paramount when it comes to staff improvement. In the beginning, one of my priorities was to get funding for training and further education from committees. While challenging, it became much easier to get support in these areas when it was found that increased technical skills, as well as increased motivation and morale, resulted in an overall improvement in the work done in the course.
Robert’s long career has seen many advances in the greenkeeping profession, some of which he describes as “noteworthy”. He says, “The evolution of mechanization and machines is remarkable and has made the lives of greenkeepers everywhere much easier and safer, not to mention making them more productive. There is now an open world of possibilities when it comes to maintaining and designing lawns that just weren’t there in my day.
“Sometimes I tell younger greenkeepers how many of the machines they take for granted today didn’t exist when I started, and when they did, few reputable clubs could afford them. The rise of technology means we all now have the machines we need to get the job done right. “
Toro is the only brand Robert has worked with from the start. “The introduction of new equipment from the US has completely revolutionized the greenkeeping world,” he says. “One machine that has no doubt made my daily routine so much better was the Toro Greensmaster 3 ride-on greensmower; it has done so much to reduce maintenance time on the pitch. “
Robert’s personal favorite, however, was the Toro Sidewinder, with its sliding mower units that allow the mower to mow close to obstacles while keeping the operator and machine out of harm’s way. “If there has ever been a mower that can claim to be in a class of its own, it certainly is,” says Robert.
As the club is a Toro customer, and given Robert’s longstanding relationship with local Toro dealer Devon Garden Machinery and his longstanding contribution to the greenkeeping profession, the news of Robert’s retirement was certainly a milestone to mark.
John Pike, former regional manager at Reesink Turfcare, who also recently retired after 48 years in the lawn care industry, was delighted to be involved. I worked with Rob for many years, as did Dennis Lumley, who worked at Devon Garden Machinery before he retired, so we arranged a surprise lunch for Rob. There Elliot Wellman, Weymouth’s current contact at Devon Garden Machinery, and I presented Rob with a Reesink / Toro decanter and a nice bottle of malt to fill! “
Robert describes himself as “extremely lucky” to be around people who would end up becoming longtime friends, including Assistant Rob Mabb, a 35-year most trusted work colleague who was recently promoted to Weymouth Course Director after Robert’s retirement , is one of them. A choice that Robert couldn’t be “happier” with.