Deeside, Wentworth and Durness golf clubs – the big greenkeeping winners at BTME 2018

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire January 25, 2018 14:40

The greenkeeping teams at Deeside Golf Club and The Wentworth Club, and the head greenkeeper at Durness Golf Club, are the big winners at the ‘BIGGA Awards’ at BTME 2018.

Led by course manager Neil McLoughlin, 41, the greenkeeping team at Deeside Golf Club in Aberdeenshire was named the winner of the BIGGA Greenkeeping Achievement of the Year Award sponsored by Baroness, at a ceremony in the Harrogate Convention Centre’s Royal Hall.

When Storm Frank hit Aberdeenshire the day before New Year’s Eve in 2015, it caused the River Dee to reach record levels, three times covering the course in a thick layer of silt and debris.

In the aftermath, the team was able to get 10 holes reopened after just 77 days and the clean-up saw over six tonnes of grass seed laid down, 10,000m2 of turf laid and all 98 bunkers rebuilt, using 3,000 tonnes of sand for topdressing and bunkers.

The victorious greenkeeping team at Deeside Golf Club

During 2017 the hard work continued, with the silt layer impeding drainage. Over 400m of drainage was installed and a programme of scarification and topdressing helped break down the silt layer further.

The Deeside team was presented with the award by television presenter and #ThisGirlGolfs ambassador Naga Munchetty at the BIGGA Welcome Celebration sponsored by Textron Golf.

Neil said: “It’s a real honour to win this award. Storm Frank came in and devastated the whole Dee Valley and the golf course ended up in a hell of a state.

BIGGA chief executive Jim Croxton said: “Of the golf clubs who were hit hard by the devastation that Storm Frank wrought in December 2015, it was perhaps Deeside who were hit hardest of all.

“For greenkeepers who dedicate their lives to maintaining a relatively small patch of land, the damage must have been heartbreaking. It is therefore to Neil and his team’s immense credit that they were able to pick themselves up and restore the course to its former glory.

“I cannot praise the greenkeeping team highly enough for the work they have done to get Deeside back on its feet. They are truly an inspiration to greenkeepers all over the country and they are worthy recipients of this year’s BIGGA Greenkeeping Achievement of the Year Award sponsored by Baroness.” The other finalists for the BIGGA Greenkeeping Achievement of the Year Award sponsored by Baroness were Andrew Brougham, head greenkeeper of Astbury Golf Club, and Stuart Imeson, course manager at Dunstanburgh Castle Golf Club.

Meanwhile, the greenkeeping team at The Wentworth Club in Virginia Water has been recognised for its incredible performance in preparing the course for the BMW PGA Championship 2017 with the BIGGA Championship Performance of the Year Award sponsored by Rigby Taylor.

The redesign of Wentworth’s famous West Course was conducted by European Tour Golf Design, with the support of Ryder Cup captains Paul McGinley and Thomas Bjorn and the Ernie Els Design group. But it was director of estates and golf courses, Kenny Mackay, and his team who were responsible for ensuring the changes were implemented ahead of the BMW PGA Championship in May 2017.

The greenkeeping team at The Wentworth Club

All 18 greens were stripped of the old turf and re-seeded with a new creeping bent, while four greens – on the eighth, 11th, 14th and 16th holes – were completely rebuilt. A sub-air system was also installed on all the greens, while new drainage and irrigation was introduced.

Furthermore, all the bunkers were redesigned and reconstructed, with 29 completely removed from play.

European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said: “The greens are spectacular and aesthetically the golf course is considerably stronger. Stephen Gallacher was walking by and he said, ‘The golf course has significantly improved. It’s just absolutely fantastic and the greens are great’.”

Kenny said: “It’s a very close-knit team. The big challenge we’ve seen is preparing the greens for tournaments.

“When the new owners came in we knew we had a plan together. There was a lot of work behind the scenes and all that research came off. It’s two years in the making to get to here.”

Croxton added: “This was nothing short of a superhuman effort by the team at The Wentworth Club, who worked non-stop from the moment the 2016 BMW PGA Championship ended until the 2017 event began to ensure the course matched up to the incredible standards required when hosting the European Tour’s flagship championship.

“Well done to Kenny and to all his team on this spectacular achievement, and on being crowned winners of the Championship Greenkeeping Performance of the Year at BTME 2018.

“Congratulations also to the Dundonald Links and Moor Allerton teams, who were both worthy finalists after hosting exceptional tournaments during 2017. All are a credit to BIGGA and the greenkeeping industry as a whole.”

And Alistair Morrison, 25, head greenkeeper at Durness Golf Club, was announced as the winner of the BIGGA Young Greenkeeper of the Year Award sponsored by Textron Golf.

Alistair began his career as an apprentice at Brora, before moving back to his hometown club at Durness. As the only member of the greenkeeping team at the most north-westerly course on mainland Britain, the role requires a huge amount of dedication and commitment to personal development and the development of the course.

‘Young Greenkeeper of the Year’, Alastair Morrison, with Andre Andrade of Textron Golf

During his three years at Brora, Alistair volunteered at three European Tour events, including the European Masters in Switzerland.

He was presented with his award by Andre Andrade, director of international sales at Textron Golf.

Alistair said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have won, I certainly never expected this! I’m from a small village of around 300 people, we rely mainly on tourists, and I do have a good relationship with my club. As a small community you get to know everyone at the club, as they’re all friends, family, neighbours and I’m delighted to have been able to represent them on such a massive scale.”

Croxton said: “I’m delighted that we have been able to recognise the efforts of Alistair, who has achieved professional and personal development despite the challenges faced of preparing a course in a tough economic time. The fact Alistair is able to prepare a thriving course for his golfers, despite working on his own and in such a remote location is no mean feat and he is an inspiration to us all.”

The other finalists of the award were Angus Roberts of Roxburghe Hotel & Golf Club and Carl Sharp of Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club.

“Congratulations must also go to Angus and Carl who did incredibly well to reach the finals of the awards. With such outstanding candidates, it’s great to see that the future of greenkeeping is in safe hands,” concluded Croxton.


Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire January 25, 2018 14:40
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1 Comment

  1. julian January 29, 13:04

    Congratulations to Kenny Mackay and the Wentworth Greenkeeping team. You did a fantastic job !!!

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