This time last year I was preparing for the biggest day in my working career. I never would have thought that I'd get the opportunity to work alongside some of the best greenkeepers, let alone walk down the fairways with the best golfers in the world ....raking the bunkers that is, not playing.
However, this experience was recently trumped by having the priviledge of hosting the Northern Ireland qualifying round at my home club, where I have passionately worked for the last 8 and a half years. The day was a great success, all bar the poor weather in the morning - and having to wake up at 3am! Nevertheless, the early mornings and late finishes were definitely worth it and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it.
I'm very happy to have Karl as our Head Course Manager, and I now really appreciate the amount of organisation that goes into such an event, and I'm also proud to be part of such a diligent greens team.
I've never experienced anything like it, the shifts we were working just before the event I actually think people were getting fed up with the massive grin on my face.
As we got close to the open, all attention to detail jobs were complete such as cutting around fairway/tee disks, spraying the hazards and removal of the steaks and many more....
We are serious pros here at Redditch.... having said that, the greens chairman JG put in a massive shift to help us out, which we are all very grateful for. In fact, he did such a fantastic job that we have all nominated him to do that from now on and forever more.. ha ha!!
We then concentrated on the cutting side of things, we would alternate with cutting front 9 one day and the back 9 the day after and so on....
- The work for this includes two cutting the fairways (left- right & right-left to create the diamond effect)
- Two cutting the tees and aprons (the same height of cut), one cutting the collars, another cutting the surrounds and one on the rough, the greens were then cut and rolled or should I say ironed in the mornings, as the holes were moved simultaneously.
I have put together a little slideshow below with some of the best pictures of the day, credit to James Harrison for following the golfers around and getting some great snaps.
Heavy rain met the early starters, but Luke Towler (Telford Golf & Country Club) sealed his place in the European Challenge Tour event with a superb 2-under 70 in the worst of the conditions to lead the field.
As the day wore on, the rain eased and the wind picked up; nonetheless, it was two more early starters who joined Towler with scores under-par. Billy Hemstock (Teignmouth GC), fresh off a second place finish in the PGA Europro Tour’s World Snooker Open last week and Ryan Evans (Wellingborough), who finished T-25th in the Made in Denmark Challenge over the weekend both shot 1-under par 71s and with no other players breaking par, a playoff would decide the second spot. Both players parred the first four playoff holes with Evans eventually sealing his spot in the 2015 NI Open via a birdie on the fifth hole of sudden death.
A special mention must go to Redditch GC, who put on a superb day with dozens of volunteers making the first Northern Ireland Open Pre-Qualifier in England a tremendous success, played on a course in superb condition.
NI Open Pre Qualifier Redditch Full RESULTS