Following a dramatic conclusion to the 37th Curtis Cup, a ceremonial changing of the guard has taken place at The Nairn Golf Club. The handover, which marked the conclusion of an exceptional 31-year tenure, saw golf course manager Iain Carson pass on the reigns of the club's proud greenkeeping tradition to Ritchie Ewan, his deputy of 25 years.
In a career spanning more than three decades at the Highland course, Mr Carson oversaw numerous changes including most recently a three-year improvement programme that resulted in revetting 60% of the course's bunkers. Also masterminding a Walker Cup, Scottish Amateur Championship, a Seniors Amateur Open and one of the most keenly contested Curtis Cups in recent times, Mr Carson has fond memories of his time at The Nairn Golf Club.
"One of the biggest changes has been the development of Nairn from a relatively small club in the north of Scotland to one that is recognised throughout the world," he said. "We are all part of a team here, committee and management, and we have all been involved in bringing the club forward."
The staging of the Curtis Cup coupled with the club's highest entry (23) in Golf World's recently published Top 100 Golf Courses in Britain & Ireland has ensured Mr Carson leaves on a high. "For me, having the Walker Cup here in 1999 and getting the Curtis Cup in 2012 has been a great honour. No other club in the north of Scotland has had both of these events and it means Nairn is one of only 10 clubs to host both," he said. "It has been a fantastic adventure which I have enjoyed from the start."
In what many see as a continuation of what came before, the new keeper of the green will be tasked with ensuring the famed Highland links preserves its reputation for its exceptional greens. Discussing his new position, Mr Ewan praised his former boss and looked forward to the future.
"It has been a privilege to work alongside Iain for the last 25 years," said the club's new golf course manager. "He has worked hard to achieve the playing surfaces that we have at Nairn which are admired by so many. This shows through in how the course is presented and the feedback we get from the members. My job will be to continue this tradition so that Nairn can be enjoyed long into the future."
It's not just the members who enjoy the club's smooth-running greens. Former Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie is also a fan, describing Nairn as "one of the best links courses in our great country", while World Number One Luke Donald said he "considered it a great test of links golf and one of Scotland's best courses".
Fashioned by the likes of Archie Simpson, Old Tom Morris, James Braid and Ben Sayers and now a firm favourite in the top 25 courses of Britain and Ireland, The Nairn Golf Club has enjoyed a remarkable run, as Andy Burgess, the club's marketing convenor, noted.
"It has been a remarkable year for Nairn with some of the best players in the world testing their skills on our wonderful course," he said proudly. "Iain's departure and Ritchie's promotion has been part of that and will hopefully ensure the high levels of maintenance, for which Nairn has become known, will continue as we look forward to the next 125 years."