The overall tournament set up is very similar to that of the Open Championship when it is at St Andrews, where course presentation and standards are at their highest.
Links greenkeeper fulfills lifetime’s ambition at Masters
Slightly different working week for me this week, as I write this blog I’m working at the 2013 Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, USA.
Ever since I was a young junior golfer watching on TV I always dreamt of one day visiting Augusta National. But then when I started my career in greenkeeping I made it one of my main objectives, not just to visit but to work at the Masters.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work at The Open at the Old Course, Women’s British Opens at St Andrews and Carnoustie an even the US Open at Congressional in 2011. But I’ve always wanted to go to The Masters so when I heard I was selected last year to work at this year’s tournament I didn’t even have to think twice about accepting. I arranged for holidays from the New and Jubilee and booked my flights as soon as I could.
Being at Augusta hasn’t disappointed and it has lived up to all my expectations. From the moment I arrived my first impressions of the course were that it was just picture perfect, a place of perfection. The whole week has been a very overwhelming experience, having watched on TV for so many years finding myself working in and around Amen Corner, surrounded by its deep history and the azaleas in full bloom, has been unbelievable.
You hear it being said on TV but you really can’t appreciate the landscape of the course either, with the severity of the greens and surrounds and the undulating fairways that viewers simply can’t see on TV.
It’s not a holiday though and I have a work schedule to stick to. There’s a sizeable crew and my task in the morning is care for fairways, which includes switching grass clippings and repairing divots. In the afternoon my task switches to being responsible for the 4th green, which involves hand blowing, switching the sand splash and leaves off the greens surface when needed.
As I said before I feel very fortunate to have worked Major championship weeks and witnessed what it takes to deliver golf courses in the most immaculate condition. The overall tournament set up at The Masters is very similar to that of the Open Championship when it is at St Andrews, where course presentation and standards are at their highest. But the attention to detail is raised to the highest level here, which makes it unbelievably special. The attention to detail is incredible, Augusta National is renowned for being one of, if not the, most exclusive golf clubs in the world and it has been fascinating to see policies such as the performance of the greens, including their speed and other indicators are kept top secret at all times.
There is also a huge emphasis placed on the overall experience the patron (spectator) receives from the moment they walk through the gates ensuring that they leave with an unforgettable experience with staff and volunteers going that extra mile to deliver a 1st class customer service.
I feel very fortunate to have been given this opportunity and I have enjoyed every minute. Now I’ve got to make sure my work is up to scratch and hopefully get to see some of the world’s best golfers tackle the golf course. I’m sure whoever wins will be a worthy winner come Sunday evening.
Words by Gavin Neill, Deputy Course Manager – New & Jubilee Courses