Sports events great experience for students

Otago Polytechnic  turf management students at The Hills  last week for the New Zealand PGA, from...
Otago Polytechnic turf management students at The Hills last week for the New Zealand PGA, from left Arnold Witteveen, Conner Drake, Hayden Walker, Brook Murphy, Hamish Ross (background), lecturer Gary Smith, Jarrod Kean, Mach Maine, Scott Hansen,...

Otago Polytechnic students Robbie Reid and Mike Scott were grounds-keeping at the Queenstown Events centre last week when the England Cricket test side played the New Zealand XI. In all, 13 grounds-keeping interns took care of two of the most important turfs in the area.

Otago Polytechnic sports turf management students arrived from Cromwell to manicure The Hills golf course and the Queenstown Events Centre for the New Zealand PGA tournament and four-day English cricket match respectively.

Those at The Hills rose every morning at 4.30am and finished their day's work work at 8.30pm, when the golfers were eating supper.

It is the only two-year internship course offered in New Zealand and the programme's manager, Gary Smith, said the sporting frenzy provided a great opportunity for the interns.

''We are exposing these young guys to some top venues.''

Mr Smith said the work was a ''two-way'' thing for the students and the venue managers, as the more hands on board the better.

He said the class of 13, all males, learned from some of the finest.

''These people are really focused, passionate guys and it's a great opportunity to be working alongside them.''

Mr Smith has been involved in the sports turf management industry for 30 years and running the course since it started in 1993.

He said the course had a ''learn while you earn'' aspect and to be a good grounds-keeper not only involved knowing grass, but also how to communicate well.

Students taking the programme have had opportunities at the New Zealand Golf Opens held at Gulf Harbour and The Hills, two PGA's, both at The Hills, and one-day international cricket matches.

Mr Reid, of Christchurch, said the week had been a dream job, as he had watched preparation at the Queenstown Events Centre for the cricket.

His duties involved removing the covers in the morning, gluing his eyes to the cricket from 1.30am until 6pm and then throwing the covers on.

However, those at The Hills rose early to get ahead of the professional golfers, who teed off about 7.30am every morning.

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