Greenkeeper celebrates an extraordinary 40 years at one club

Rosemary Ayim
By Rosemary Ayim October 13, 2015 06:33

The head greenkeeper at Fulford Golf Club in York has celebrated an amazing 40 years working at the same golf course.

Mark Mennell arrived at the club in 1975 and was appointed head greenkeeper in 1989.

‘He worked through the heyday of the Benson & Hedges International Trophy, strimming bunkers and cutting greens, while the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer and Lee Trevino strode the fairways,’ said a spokesman.

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The 1st tee at Fulford

‘And he continues to maintain the course to the elite standards that brings top tournaments flooding to Fulford.

‘Having first cut the Fulford grass in 1975, 56-year-old Mennell has seen huge changes in the tools he uses. He is now helping to oversee alterations to the Charles MacKenzie-designed course first constructed 80 years ago.’

“The machinery has changed,” Mennell said. “The machinery that cuts fairways these days cuts it tight and goes into sharp undulations. Going back to the 70s and early 80s, the equipment didn’t get into some of the pretty severe dips.”

52-53 fulford 2ND POPLARS


And on the course investment programme, Mennell continued: “In all my years here, it’s the biggest visual change that we have seen. It is not just the bunkering. It is bringing the ruggedness of heathland back into it. Since 1997, we have been treating the rough and thinning out the lush green, parkland, grasses and we have been trying to eradicate that.

“If you had been here ten to 15 years ago, taken a photograph and had a look now, it is a massive change. The challenge is trying to keep it to the standards. This place has got 50-plus category one golfers. It is trying to keep it right for everybody.”

52-53 fulford 13TH TEE - GORSE

Fulford, consistently ranked in the top 100 courses in the country, held 23 consecutive European Tour events in the 70s, 80s and early 90s – and Mennell played a key part.

He said: “I did 14 Benson & Hedges, the Sun Alliance and the Murphy’s Cup and the Ladies British Open. I always remember there was a practice day at the Benson & Hedges and Warren Humphreys was practising in a three-ball.

“I was on the fifth green cutting it with a hand machine. It was early morning, about 6am, and a ball comes down and lands and then another one. It was right on the next line of my cut.

“So I went over and kicked it out of the way and then, as I am cutting, I can hear this shouting and bawling. I carried on and they came over and they’d had a bet on who would be nearest the pins on the par threes as they were going round – and I’d kicked the ball away.”


Mark Mennell, with a signed picture from Tom Watson, who led the tributes. The inscription read: ‘Mark, it’s been a great 40 years in golf together. All my best, Tom Watson.’

As a greenkeeper, Mennell has endured a lifetime of early morning starts. But, even after four decades, he dismisses the idea of looking forward to lie-ins.

“I am body-clocked,” he explained. “I am up at 4.15am every morning. I think about the day ahead. I have always looked forward to coming to work. It is great. If the body takes it I will carry on to 50 years.

fulford golf club - 10th

“I still keep myself hands-on. People say ‘just delegate’. I can’t do it. The other day I was strimming bunkers and people look at you like ‘what are you doing strimming bunkers?’ but I like to do it.”

Fulford’s manager Gary Pearce added: “Mark should be really proud of this milestone, his contribution to the success at Fulford is significant, and over the years many thousands of golfers will have enjoyed the course the Mark has prepared for them – we are hoping he carries on for another 40 years!”


Rosemary Ayim
By Rosemary Ayim October 13, 2015 06:33
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