3 The Open all hours

The Open all hours

By Editor

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The day before the Open is due to start and the Head Greenkeeper at Royal Troon, Billy McLachlan, and his team have everything in place for the world's most famous golf tournament.

Preparations have been going well although, according to Billy, the weather could do with being a bit nicer, but there's not a lot he can do about that.

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Billy is immensely proud of the work done by his team. Thanks to the fact that he oversees two courses (Royal Troon and Portland) he is able to call on 14 staff for the duration of the event. Even so, he has had to take on another four staff to assist with the setting up in the mornings.

"This week, the guys will be arriving at the course around 4.00am, ready for a 4.15am start. Their will be different teams cutting the greens, surrounds, fairways, hole cutting and putting out the flags, with someone looking after the practice area. I get the well dones from people, but it's all down to the staff who work really hard."

This is Billy's second Open having overseen the last one at Royal troon in 1997. Since then, there have been a number of subtle changes to some of the tee positions plus the addition of 10 new bunkers. Royal Troon's bunkers are noted for their difficulty, none more so than those surrounding the famous 'postage stamp' 8th hole. In the 1950 Open a German competitor took five shots to get out of a bunker on the left of the green, another five to get out of a bunker on the right and another three to escape from the original bunker for the second time!

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During the Open itself, Billy's daily routine will include overseeing the staff's early morning work schedule followed by a meeting with his Greens committee chairman. Together they brief the army who are on duty around the course. "Once set up, and we have guys positioned around the course,

I am ready for anything to happen," said Billy," But, hopefully, nothing does."

When the last players come in for the day, the groundstaff are out on the fairways replacing divots and seeding the holes.

Over the championship, Billy and his team get by on very little sleep but, as Billy pointed out, "If you don't get excited about the Open, then you don't get excited about anything!"

Our best wishes go to Billy and his team for a very successful Open.

Images courtesy of Greenkeeping International

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