What a Difference a Year Makes.


It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since we were preparing for the 148th Open Championship and times are now so different.

Staying home and spending time with loved ones is the most important thing at the moment but having said that, I’m sure everyone is missing the golf course, especially during such a fantastic spell of weather.

We have continued working with a reduced staff to ensure that the golf courses are maintained to some standard for play to return.

We have 7 staff working and as temperatures have remained fairly cool up until last week we have been able to carry out all of the essential maintenance necessary without too much trouble. Some areas such as bunkers will require additional work to be fit for play again when we reopen as the wind has moved most of the bunker sand around.

It really is strange to see the links unused day after day and we are looking forward to seeing our members out enjoying the courses again.

Here are a few pictures taken last week




Autumn works

We have been busy making the most of some dry days by hollow coring and seeding tees and grass paths on both courses.

Cores removed have been utilised filling and repairing areas of tented village and road edges had become sunken due to heavy equipment during the build and de-rig.

Valley 2nd fairway now versus below picture in August. It’s still recovering slowly but we forget what it was like immediately after the media centre was removed.

The old 17th where the Open shop was has been re-seeded and has now germinated but again recovery will take us into next season.

Dunluce greens were over-seeded and top-dressed last week but surfaces are back to normal now.

Our annual Greenkeeping outing was last Friday at Ballycastle Golf Club, my first time there and what a brilliant course, the views are spectacular and a great day was had by all so a big thank you to them.

August already..

What an incredible month July was for everyone associated with Royal Portrush Golf Club.

The praise that the course and the club received was very pleasing even though we had a very wet month of July with 4 inches of rain from the 10th-21st.

The 148th Open was an amazing experience which none of us will forget but for most of the Greenkeepers it was work as normal the next day be it a little bleary eyed.


It really is difficult to sum up the last month on the links with all that the Open has entailed.

Myself and the green staff feel very privileged to have been a part of what was a historic sporting event.

Here are some statistics of the event from a Greenkeeping perspective.

 Staff worked up to 235 hours for the week prior and the week of the Open
 Greens cutting teams racked up over 200Km each in the 8 days of course preparations
 29 volunteers and 2 seasonal staff came from the UK, Ireland, Australia and the United States to assist the team.
We had a volunteer from each of the Open Venues, these volunteers were a great asset. They came for 2 weeks, slotted straight into our team and all did an exceptional job.
 There were an agronomy team of 4 for testing greens along with Alistair Beggs and myself who directed greens mowing to ensure consistency of green speed throughout the links.
 Our team were assigned their tasks which included

13 pedestrian greens mowers 

10 Fairway and surround mowers

6 Tees mowers 

2 Hole changing and painting

3 mowing bunker banks

6 bunker raking

8 Tidying & quality control

3 practice area preparation

1 Servicing and tidying tees

As well as additional work with contractors and any other requests from the R&A

The Team including volunteers for the Open Championship


Support equipment shipped from the UK and Ireland was made up of

5 Fairway mowers

13 Hand mowers

2 Triflex tees mowers

2 Sidewinder Trim/35mm cylinder mowers

10 Workman buggies

1 Towed blower

Various handheld blowers, strimmers and mowers from Husqvarna


We set the course up in the morning, and while some staff were able to go home there were some key staff such as Stephen Walker (RPGC mechanic) who worked through the day to adjust and prepare all of the equipment for the next shift.

In the evenings everyone returned for that shift which included 

Mowing greens 

Mowing surrounds 

Mowing rough and trim

Mowing all practice ground areas and filling divots

Flymowing bunkers

Filling divots and repairing pitchmarks

R&A staff along with our hole changing team measuring and placing daily hole positions

Richard mowing the 14th green 

Some great memories were made but it’s back to normal for the Greenkeepers along with some additional repair work to get the spectator areas back to normal and reinstate turf damaged by tented villages etc.


3 weeks to go..

At last, some reasonable temperatures and with it the some growth. Spring has been colder than we would have liked with 4 inches of rain through June.

Even though this is not ideal preparation for a major golf event we are happy with the course, but a dry July would be very welcome.

We have been working on refinement of all managed turf surfaces with verti-cutting and brushing. Some light sand dressings have been applied throughout the Links, and all areas received their last light fertiliser application before we begin polishing surfaces for the Open Championship.

Contractors are working tirelessly to complete the final structures as carpets and fittings are finished in the other structures. It really is amazing how quickly all of the infrastructure is built.

Our volunteers will arrive in 2 groups, the first of which come on the 8th July and the second group follow on the 14th where our staff will increase to 60.

We intend to have 13 people mowing greens, 10 mowing fairways and surrounds and 5 mowing tees.

Cutting heights will not vary from our normal day to day maintenance but intensity will increase with the possibility of double cutting or even evening cutting.

We will start at 4am and work until set up is complete before returning for evening set up at around 5pm. The volume of work is really dictated by the weather and possible rainfall.

The dedication shown by our own staff over the last few years is commendable and as the Championship nears, the Greenkeepers are all quite excited by the prospect of seeing the best players in the world playing on what they have been a part of producing.

Let’s hope the players enjoy the course and fingers crossed for some more sunshine!

64 Days to go.

With a little over 2 months until the Open Championship begins the R&A, Greenkeepers and contractors are working tirelessly to ensure that we are on on schedule to deliver the Championship and exceed expectation.

Conditions have been excellent for the build and some reasonable temperatures should now promote some growth for our staff to begin the final polish to surfaces.

The putting surfaces are strong for the time of year in Portrush as our growing season is later than most of the UK and Ireland.

The small percentage of annual meadow grass is now seeding which is normal for the time of year and as this ends later this month the annual meadow grass with refine while fescue strengthens.

The 1st fairway earlier this week.

I have been surprised by how close spectators will get to the action. There should be an amazing atmosphere in the grandstand surrounding 18th green.

As planned, the front 9 of the Valley Links closes tomorrow afternoon due to infrastructure build.

Open Prep Begins

In the last 2 weeks contractors have been moving on site to begin the build for the 148th Open.

Over the next 3 weeks, the horseshoe grandstand surrounding the 18th green & 1st green grandstand shown in the picture should be almost complete.

20 weeks to go!

With only 20 weeks until the first day of the Open Championship it feels like spring is here. We are definitely not packing away the winter woollies just yet though..

Having said that we are priming the irrigation system again this week and Chris & Ben are ensuring all of the air is out of the pipe work before the system can be fully pressurised.

With the sun shining and the evenings becoming longer, the turf looks as it does mid summer. Light dustings of sand have been applied to greens, surrounds and tees for the last month or so.

Removal of excessive sand in bunkers has been carried out this week with holes 1-14 almost complete. It was felt that bunkers were a little shallow and the indigenous sand can be moved around by wind and become a little soft.

Bella’s first week at work, enjoying lunch times!

Open short game area bunkers requiring a little reparation.

A day of staff training for all of the full-time green staff last Thursday saw us work through all of our machinery during an on-site training day.

Time is now being allocated to the Valley links and Conchobhar, Andy and Gary have been doing a great job of re-building some of the bunkers

Stuart McKee assisting in clearing contractors cable reels as construction work nears an end.

The countdown begins!

With only 6 months to go until the Open Championship, the team have been working on “walk off’s” from greens and tees for players and spectators.

The major works which are “in play” were completed before Christmas with the intention to rest Dunluce, through what is usually the most difficult time of year for us.

Contractors are working well, completing the last pieces of roadway which will link tv compounds with the golf courses.

The last pieces/tails of ducting are being mole ploughed in, these areas are out of play.

Boston Networks began blowing fibre through the underground ducts on Wednesday which will serve all of the media, grandstands and on course areas with WiFi.

The machine feeds the fibre through the ducting using compressed air to reduce friction while the fibre is pushed through the duct.

Ground pressure testing being carried out to ascertain load bearing for temporary structures.