Who has priority – golfers or greenkeepers?

Steve Carrollin Golf

Here's an item from National Club Golfer that might just raise your hackles - especially if you are a greenkeeper! Staff writer Steve Carroll asked his colleagues for their views on who has priority on the course - golfers or greenkeepers?

Steve Carroll: Tricky one, this.

We all play a game in an arena that's, basically, alive. Grass grows and needs cutting, trees need trimming and bushes need tending.

Ensuring we can all compete in the best possible surroundings are teams of greenkeepers, who are up at the crack of dawn getting the course ready for us to enjoy our rounds.

Golf courses are quite big places and, with so much work to do, it's inevitable that sometimes the paths of golfers and greenkeepers will cross.

You might get to a par 3 and a greenkeeper is putting in a new hole. They might be cutting a fairway as you get onto the tee or top soiling a green when an approach shot is waiting to be struck.

What I want to know is who should have priority in such a situation?

I've been at clubs where mowing stops at the first sign of a four ball and at others where a job is completed no matter the size of the queue of players waiting to carry on play.

So, who should yield in the battle - golfers or greenkeepers?

Dan Murphy: Broadly, I am happy for greenkeepers to have right of way. I would think that, on a competition day, golfers should.

Common sense should prevail - if you play at 6.00am then you are definitely going to bump into greenkeepers as it's the only time they can work on the opening holes.

Tom Irwin: It is a golf course, golfers have right of way.

Purely from a legal perspective if the greenkeeper has right of way then it would open the door to all sorts of potential sueing. Same as pedestrians and cars.

As Dan says, between 6 and dusk the greenkeeper should know to step promptly aside.

Nothing against them you understand. Some of my best friends are green.

DM: Policies differ from course to course. In general, the posher the course, the more deferential the greenkeepers are. Get somewhere wth few airs and graces and the greenkeepers tend to hold their own.

SC: Know your place, and all that…

Mark Townsend: I'm a timid character, so am happy to let the greenkeeper have right of way at any given opportunity.

I think I act more strangely in front of a greenkeeper than any other profession - a) I think they think I'm a posh tw*t, so I'm far too over friendly b) they are busy doing a job while I'm skulking off from what I should be doing, so I'm terrified of getting in the way and c) I think they're judging my golf and generally go to pieces before apologising and picking up my ball.

Other than tripping over at a pedestrian crossing in the middle of Wimbledon high street while returning a shopping trolley to Sainsbury's in 1984, my most embarrassing moment came in front of a greenkeeper.

In a previous job I played the K Club two weeks before the Ryder Cup and the course was pretty much shut other than to media.

I birdied the 11th, went to the side of the water, held my hand to my ear and shouted at the top of my voice 'come on' in the general direction of an empty grandstand. I then turned round to see a greenkeeper leaning on his rake.

SC: What did the greenkeeper do?

MT: Looked a bit sorry for me.

SC: I am prone to picking my ball up at the merest sight of a mower. Although that's not very helpful in a medal.

Georgina Simpson: In my experience, greenkeepers tend to stand aside for male members and leave women members stood waiting, however that could be because men hit the ball further and more erratically, so they stand aside so as not to be hit? Presume they think the women won't reach them anyway.

I am fortunate, the greens staff at Cleckheaton always stand aside for me to play but, when I play somewhere they don't know me, (meaning anywhere else) I notice that they generally carry on regardless, (presumably because they think I won't reach them) and then I find myself tempted to hit anyway!

You can read the original article from National Club Golfer HERE

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