Scottish club golfers need to appreciate the unsung heroes who make their rounds happen

As new season gets underway, it’s an appropriate time to be thinking about efforts put in by others

Here’s a random thought for you: do club golfers show proper appreciation of the efforts put in on their behalf by both paid staff and volunteers?

There’s a few things recently that have stirred that thought in my head and the main one has definitely been a shocking spell of weather over the past few months that has made life extremely difficult for greenkeepers all around the country.

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Take last week, for instance. Monday was pretty much a washout where I live, as was Wednesday, which was a pity for an American golf writing colleague and his friend who were due to join me for their first hit at my home club of Aberdour at the start of a week-long visit to the sport’s cradle.

Greenkeepers all around Scotland have had to face one of the worst spells of weather for a long time over the past few months. Picture: Phil Inglis/Getty Images.Greenkeepers all around Scotland have had to face one of the worst spells of weather for a long time over the past few months. Picture: Phil Inglis/Getty Images.
Greenkeepers all around Scotland have had to face one of the worst spells of weather for a long time over the past few months. Picture: Phil Inglis/Getty Images.

They’d headed straight there after flying into Edinburgh but, due to the course being closed and rightly so because of the the miserable weather, had to be content with just the view from the clubhouse out across the Firth of Forth and a hearty Scottish breakfast on this occasion before heading up to St Andrews for a few days.

The fact my good friend had arrived here wearing what he calls “short pants” was certainly a mistake as Sunday apart it’s definitely not been even close to the weather for that sort of attire.

On Friday, when I did manage to get out for a game, it actually felt quite pleasant in the sunshine for a spell but not long afterwards we found ourselves beating a hasty retreat to the clubhouse after being caught in a nasty hailstorm that hit just as we were putting out on the 13th green.

Our head greenkeeper is a cheery chap yet there was a distinct tone of despair in his voice as he talked about how 7mm of rain had fallen on Friday alone and it’s no real surprise that, reluctantly, he’s taken the decision to require the ongoing use of fairway mats for the time being to “protect the golf course”.

It’s hard enough trying to keep some people happy, especially those who, for some unknown reason, seem to think they know everything about the art of greenkeeping despite probably have been so-called pen pushers for most of their life, but throw in Mother Nature being a pain in the butt and it becomes a real challenge for all those involved in trying to deliver courses in a good condition for both members and visitors.

So, as the season starts in earnest at clubs around the country, let’s all go out of our way to show our appreciation to greenkeepers for the effort they’ve put in over one of the most challenging winter periods for a long time and, at the same time, show a bit of patience as you wait for those greens to dry out and putts to start running smoothly.

As for volunteers being appreciated, I found myself asking that question when I witnessed the brilliant work being carried out at Aberdour on the junior front as a well-attended Saturday afternoon get-together delivered proof that kids are still interested in seeing what golf has to offer.

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Helped by the fact they were playing various different games on the short-game area, it was clear to see that all those taking part were having fun in a session that was being overseen by Jack Stewart, who recently arrived at the club along with new head professional Michael Kanev, and club members Ruth Gillanders and Sheila Page.

Credit has to be given to Allan Knox, who seemed to breathe new life into the junior section at Aberdour during his spell as the professional before moving to Crieff, but, without the likes of Gillanders and Page, this sort of thing just wouldn’t happen and it was nice to see that being recognised as they were honoured recently with a Services to Sport accolade in the Dunfermline & West Fife Sports Council Awards.

From what I’ve witnessed over the years, the vast majority of club golfers only care about one thing and that is their own round of golf, whether it’s a weekly hit with friends or family or a competitive outing at the weekend and, in truth, there’s nothing really wrong with that.

At the same time, though, it should also be noted that a lot of people are involved in delivering the overall product that helps make Scotland such a popular destination for golfers and now seems an appropriate time for that to be flagged up as a combination of the clocks changing and The Masters almost being upon us sort of signals the official start of a new season for a lot of club golfers.

Club secretaries and managers do a brilliant job behind the scenes along with other office staff members while I often think that golf club caterers are taken for granted and I know for a fact the local family currently delivering a fantastic service in that respect at my club put in long hours to try and go over and above on behalf of the members.

Let’s not forget those in the pro shop either because that, after all, is the point of contact for every single person who steps on to the first tee and that welcome, certainly in terms of a first-time visitor, can certainly help determine what someone thinks in terms of delivering an overall verdict on a particular venue.

On, and as the tournaments start to kick in, let’s also appreciate the effort put in our behalf by competition and match secretaries because they are the ones who put time aside on a Saturday night, for example, to make sure everything is in order with scorecards and then press a button that leads to someone having cause to celebrate.

Enjoy the 2024 season and, as you do so, please appreciate those who are involved in the wider picture when it comes to golf clubs.



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