High standards are par for the course
In just over a month’s time, Murcar Links Golf Club will be a hive of activity as it plays host to the European Tour’s newest event, the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play.
With a prize fund of one million euros, it will pit 64 of the leading players on The Race to Dubai against each other in a straight knockout, matchplay contest.
It will be a big couple of days for all involved, and none more so than course manager Bob Mackay.
The 53-year-old’s preparation for the event started some months ago and he has been working closely with Mike Stewart who is the tournament director and Eddie Adams, one of the tour’s senior agronomists.
He has been involved in all the planning meetings, which he said has been good to see how the whole infrastructure of the event comes together. He has also been organising the greenkeeping volunteers, accommodation for those coming from further afield and the catering for them.
SO WHAT WILL YOU BE DOING DURING THE THREE DAY EVENT?
My role during the event will be to co-ordinate the daily preparation of the course to the highest standard we can possibly give the players and will be working with approximately 30 greenstaff to achieve this.
Every volunteer will have an important role to play no matter how small they might think it is. It would be nice to organise some sunshine and a stiff testing breeze but unfortunately that one is outwith my control.
LOOKING AT YOUR CAREER OVERALL THEN, WHAT HAVE BEEN THE MAIN STEPPING STONES?
I started out as an apprentice greenkeeper at Royal Dornoch in Sutherland before moving to Worthing GC in Sussex as assistant greenkeeper.
From there I was head greenkeeper at Dumfries and County GC and, then, Prestwick St Nicholas in Ayrshire before taking my first course manager role back at Royal Dornoch GC in 1998.
My next big move was to Macdonald Spey Valley Golf Course in Aviemore where I completed the grow-in and helped develop the project followed by a brief spell as course manager at The Roxburghe in the Borders.
However, the lure of getting back to a classic links course was too much and in November 2011 I was appointed to my current position of course manager at Murcar Links.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY?
Not at all. I have enjoyed living and working in various parts of the country and have been lucky enough to gain tremendous experience on different types of golf course during my career.
WHO HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST INFLUENCE?
A former course manager called Hugh McGillvary who I used to work for at Worthing Golf Club. He was hard but very fair and that was something he unwittingly installed in me.
WHAT ADVICE HAVE YOU IGNORED?
There has been a lot and mostly from sales reps.
FAVOURITE PART OF A WORKING DAY?
I enjoy the vast majority of my working day but you can’t beat 5am on a summer’s morning when the sun is slowly rising and the course looks fantastic.
IF YOU HAD TO TEAM UP WITH SOMEONE FOR A CHARITY GOLF DAY, WHO WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
If I could form a team, it would have to be Miguel Angel Jimenez, Kevin Bridges and Alan Grant (He’s the club ambassador at the Carnegie club who hosts lunches and dinners and an extremely funny guy).
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE STRESS-BUSTER?
I love to go away fishing on my own as it truly helps me relax and forget everything.
WHAT'S YOUR BEST CAREER ADVICE?
Always be willing to increase your knowledge and learn from your mistakes.
IS THERE ANY DAY IN YOUR CAREER YOU WOULD LIKE TO LIVE AGAIN?
Not really as I’m fortunate to have had lots of highlights in my career and I try to savour all of them equally.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE WITH THE REST OF YOUR CAREER?
Continue to develop Murcar Links and help take it to another level in the golfing industry.
Murcar Links Golf Club, Bridge of Don, will host The Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play, this summer from July 30 to August 2.