This course would suit you if you want to pursue a career in Sports Turf (Groundsman)

What will I study?

This course would suit you if you want to pursue a career in Sports Turf (Groundsman)

A sports Turf Operative may also be referred to as a Groundsperson or Grounds Maintenance Operative.

This occupation exists to ensure that public and private sports facilities are available for use by the public and ensures facilities are available to support the Government policy of increasing physical activity.

A sports turf operative is responsible for the maintenance, renovation and overall appearance of one or more sports turf surfaces in accordance with the needs of the particular sport. It is their job to maintain an appropriate quality playing surface which reflects the carrying capacity of that surface to ensure that a sustainable playing surface is provided.

The career as a Sports Turf operative can be quite varied, potentially working across a wide range of different sports and venues, including athletics, bowls, cricket, croquet, football, hockey, horse racing, ruby league and union, tennis and ranging from general park type sports surfaces to first class stadia. Working in the outdoor environment is a healthy and therapeutic activity, which contributes to the wellbeing of employees as well as users of sports surfaces. With the vast range of natural or artificial turf pitches available, throughout the UK and worldwide, now is an excellent time to join this well established and dynamic profession.


A Sports Turf Operative apprenticeship will typically take 18-24 months to complete.


The knowledge which underpins the required skills will allow a sports turf operative to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the principles of the maintenance and renovation requirements of different sports turf surfaces which are appropriate to their level of apprenticeship and the specific needs of the sector. These are:

  • Compliance with environmental and health and safety legislations
  • Compliance with policies and procedures – company, client, health and safety risk assessments, rules of the game from different Governing Bodies of Sport
  • The identification and correct application of materials, tools, equipment and machinery used in maintenance and renovation activities
  • Identification and understanding of different grasses, soil types, weeds, pests, diseases, turf disorders, artificial surfacing materials, underlays, infill material, turf and soil reinforcement material, line marking materials
  • The principles of photosynthesis, respiration and transpiration in the growth and development of plants
  • The impact of weather, ground conditions and usage on pitch quality and playing quality
  • The different Performance Quality Standards for a range of different sports turf surfaces
  • How to minimise waste and reduce environmental impacts
  • How to monitor, record and report basic grounds maintenance findings

The Sports Turf Operative must be able to apply the knowledge and skills in a logistical and systematic approach and demonstrate a positive work ethic in achieving the desired outcomes for the sports surfaces being maintained. In order to do this they will need to be capable of the following:

  • Maintain and renovate turf surfaces in a safe and appropriate way to ensure games can take place which provide for a fair, safe and exciting contest for players. This will include the sfe use of a range of equipment and machinery, such as mowers, scarifiers, aerators and other specialist turf care equipment, covering hand tools as well as pedestrian operated, ride on and tractor mounted implements
  • Correctly calibrate equipment for material requirements and apply at the correct rates a range of materials, including grass seed, fertiliser and bulky top dressing
  • Use integrated prevention and control methods to reduce the incidence of diseases, disorders, pests and weeds on turf
  • Set and mark out sports areas in accordance with the Laws of the Governing Bodies of Sport
  • Maintain tools, equipment and machinery used for the maintenance and renovation activities to ensure their safe and effective use.
  • Maintain and conduct basic routine servicing and repairs to drainage and irrigation systems
  • Effectively communicate with others and provide an excellent level of customer service
  • Work safely, effectively and efficiently at all times, whether under supervision, as an individual or a team

Customers demand safe and appropriate quality playing surfaces, which can range from pitches produced on limited budgets to first class televised events where pitches are at the cutting edge of technological developments. The Sports Turf Operative will frequently work in situations involving the general public, customers or commercial events. It is therefore important to ensure an operative is capable of demonstrating certain behaviours at all times, including the following:

  • Safety Orientation – this occupation operates within an industry that has significant hazards and risks from use of machinery and materials such as pesticides. The potential for harm to self, harm to others, wildlife and the environment is considerable. There needs to be a competent understanding of health and safety and implementation of these practices at all times.
  • Positive work ethic – Positive attitude, committed, motivated by providing an excellent customer service and getting the game on wherever possible. Able to adapt to a change in conditions, product, situation and working environment is dependable, reliable, responsible and responsive to embracing social and cultural diversity and ethical in the treatment of others. Wants to stretch and drive their Continuous Professional Development
  • Quality Focused – Follows approved procedures and processes in a logical manner, paying attention to detail and applying approved checks throughout work activities to ensure work completed is fit for purpose.
  • Team player – Able to work on own initiative but also be able to interact and communicate effectively within a team applying a respectful and professional manner. Able to listen and absorb information, to ask questions when instructions are not understood or unclear and to work within the limitations of the job role.
  • Contributor to sustainability – Continuously strives to work efficiently and effectively to assist others in activities as appropriate to the job role. Aware of the financial, social and environmental impacts of their actions.

How will I be assessed?

The Final Assessment forms 100% of the assessment of achievement of the apprenticeship standard.

The Final Assessment will contain 2 components

A written and Online test which will assess knowledge and behaviours and will be assessed by an independent assessment organisation. This will be graded as Fail/Pass/Merit/Distinction weighted by 40%.

A practical assessment assessing skills, behaviours and knowledge to explain what they are doing and will be assessed by an independent assessment organisation. This will be graded Fail/Pass/Merit/Distinction weighted by 60%.

Grading will be based on the following criteria:
A minimum of 60% of the marks available must be achieved in both of the two end point assessment components with the marks from both components being weighted 40% written and 60% practical and then totalled to achieve and overall percentage for grading. Failure to achieve a minimum of 60% in a component will only require that component to be attempted again at a future date, following completion of adequate additional learning in the component part that was failed.

Failure to achieve a combined percentage of 60% or greater will see the standard not being achieved.

What is the entry process?

Click enquire now or call the Apprenticeship Team on 01332 216640

What are the entry requirements?

Entry requirements will be determined by individual employers but typically potential apprentices will have a minimum of 5 GCSEs at Grades A-D (including Maths, English and Science) or other equivalent vocational qualifications. Apprentices recruited without the above levels of qualifications will need to ensure they achieve level 1 in English and maths as part of their apprenticeship.

What can I do after this training course?

This standard is recognised by The Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) and the Professional Body for Sports Turf Operatives and others working in the grounds care industry. Upon achievement of this standard the apprentice will be eligible to join the IOG register of Turf Management Professionals.

Successful apprentices will have the opportunity to progress on to a higher level apprenticeship standard.

Job opportunities will be also be enhanced for those apprentices who have completed the programme with promotion to more senior positions within the industry.

Got a question about this course?

Call the Apprenticeships Team on 01332 216640


We make every effort to ensure this course information is accurate, however, we reserve the right to make alterations.

To view the full standards and assessment plans, please click on the links below:


Assessment Plan

Robert Brookes

"I've always been passionate about horticulture, now i've got knowledge as well."


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