The Life And Times Of A Golf Course Head Greenkeeper

Life must be tough for the Head Greenkeeper at the Beacon Park Golf Course, with its aura of landfill desecration and neglect. Billy Merritt is Head Greenkeeper, and he has a fine reputation, regularly involved as voluntary greenkeeper at Open tournaments.

In a “What Am I Really Thinking” article he remarked on “When I See Unrepaired Pitch Marks! We get lots of pitch marks on our course with it being a pay and play and, to be honest, we have people practising all the time. They’re the type of people who don’t repair their pitch marks. In general, a lot of our golfers don’t. I think their attitude is ‘oh that’s the greenkeeper’s job’. Nobody likes pitch marks on the green, and divots are even worse, but we have a problem with both. Here, we just assume that people won’t repair them and that we need to do it, whether it’s pitch marks or whatever. BM

“When I See A Bunker That Hasn’t Been Raked! You can imagine what we’re like up here. We have, the same as everybody else, rakes in the bunkers and you have footmarks around the rakes. Again, we experience the same attitude; ‘it’s the greenkeeper’s job’ and we have to live with that. We’re pay and play so the course gets abused quite a lot anyway. It’s just the mentality of a pay and play golf course. BM

“We’ve got people that have little go-karts and they go under the ropes. One of the lads went over and gave them a bit of a talking to and they said ‘well, my tyres are special tyres’. It doesn’t matter how special the tyres are, there’s a reason it’s roped off. BM

“When I See A Divot That Hasn’t Been Replaced? A lot of the time they (golfers) do replace them but the birds, magpies and crows lift them up. At my previous course, we had to go round re-seeding and replacing all the divots but, in general, I think they put them back. We just accept it’s going to happen. BM

“When Golfers Expect The Greens To Be Great All Year ROUND. If you live in this country and expect that, you must be crazy. It’s just unrealistic expectations. Our climate is one of the worst things to deal with, especially in winter. The biggest stress of any greenkeeper is the weather. Our whole life revolves around the weather. If it changes, we’ve got to try and deal with it. The golf course is our baby. We look after it and we don’t like to see any abuse – no matter what it might be. We take it personally. BM”

The Beacon Park Golf Course is lucky to have the highly skilled Billy Merritt, whose loyalty throughout the landfill debacle is outstanding. He can be found at The Lodge, Beacon Park Golf Club, Beacon Lane, Dalton.

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