Greenkeeper retires after 51 years of service

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir October 10, 2021 11:05

The head greenkeeper at Cochrane Castle Golf Club in Scotland has retired after 51 years of working in the industry – 43 of which were at the same golf club.

Lachie McGill, 66, said: “It may not have been the best paid job in the world, but to me it was the best job in the world.

“What a career I have had, out in the fresh air every day with the birds and the bees.”

He is a third generation greenkeeper and said that as a schoolboy the careers adviser scoffed when he said he was heading for the golf course.

He said: “I always knew what I would become, the career guy said he doubted there was any future in it. I doubt he was in the same job for 51 years!

“At one stage we had 17 members of the wider family in greenkeeping.

“I can actually remember when I was around five my grandfather Lachie Millar used a horse to pull the grasscutters at Erskine Golf Club.

“You started at the first fairway and by the time you got to the 18th seven days later, it was time to start again.

”With a light fairway mower I was able to cut all the fairways at Cochrane Castle in seven hours.”

Lachie McGill. Image from Twitter

He served his apprenticeship at Erskine – where his dad Rab was also greenkeeper – before being poached aged 22 by Cochrane Castle in 1978.

His first wage was £6 per week.

The dad-of-two has received a presentation from the club to thank him for his 43 years of service.

Lachie said: “What struck me on my last day was that in 1978 there were areas on the course which had no trees at all.

“Now we have forests of conifers and it is much more about ecology, wild flowers and creating habitat for birds and insects.

“The modern greenkeeper has to be a botanist, there are so many fertilisers for example.

“And you have to keep up to date with what has been banned, as many of the things we used to put on the grass are now.

“The equipment we have now is astonishing by comparison.

“Which is probably just as well as golfers now want to play 12 months of the year, helped by milder and wetter winters, there used to be so much more snow and frost.

“In the old days there was no early retirement, people were not living as long and during the week you hardly saw a golfer on the course.

“You can actually find it difficult to get the space to get the job done, while trying to keep everybody happy.

“I would thoroughly recommend youngsters to get involved in greenkeeping, especially if they like golf.

“It has been a great working life and I have been overwhelmed by my send-off from the club.”

Andy McGarry, formerly of the shutdown Eastwood Golf Club, is the new head greenkeeper in charge of two full-time staff and a part-timer.

Club captain Alister Miller paid tribute to Lachie, saying: “It’s obvious that Cochrane Castle is in his blood and I am sure that he will still be thinking about turf, sand and coring long into his retirement.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir October 10, 2021 11:05
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