Belfast Telegraph

Why Jamie will be flying the flag at the Ryder Cup

By Linda Stewart

Come the Ryder Cup, Dundonald man Jamie McCune and his fellow greenkeepers must have the Celtic Manor course ready for action within just 30 minutes between first light and first tee-off.

That means cutting all 18 aprons surrounding the greens, cutting 18 greens to 3mm and raking every bunker on the course while early risers practise ahead of the day’s competition.

And in return? The greenkeepers do it for free, using their own holidays and paying their own flights to the Welsh course.

Jamie is entering his second year of the Level 3 Advanced National Certificate (ANC) in Sports and Amenity Turf Management at CAFRE’s Greenmount.

The Clandeboye Golf Club greenkeeper has already volunteered at the Open at Turnberry in 2009 and the 2007 Walker Cup at Royal Co Down, but winning a place on the Ryder Cup greenkeeping team is a major coup.

The big names have yet to be confirmed at the US/Europe clash, which runs from the end of September to the start of October.

“We have only half an hour of light before first tee-off each morning when the whole course has to be cut and all the bunkers raked. It will be a pretty big operation,” Jamie said.

“We could be doing anything from raking bunkers to cutting fairways to cutting greens — anything really. I’m paying my own way to go and do this. The way I see it, I’m not going to have anything better than working at the biggest golf event in the world.

“To have done the Walker Cup and then the Ryder Cup, it should stand my career in good stead. My goal is to be a Head Greenkeeper, so the knowledge and experience I’ve built up from the course at Greenmount together with all my practical experience, will help me achieve this. Working at the Ryder Cup will be special.”

The sheer intensity of his work at Clandeboye should be good preparation. To keep the courses in top condition involves a threeand-a-half-hour operation, cutting the greens daily to a height of 3mm using ride-on mowers.

“We would fertilise three times a year, in March, July and October. We scarify every two weeks at 1mm below the surface,” he said.

“ We hollowtine the green twice a year, every April and September, boring to 4 inches in depth. We put a wetting agent on every six weeks from April to August, we cut the green daily at a height of 3mm and we speed roll once or twice a week.”

Jamie’s teacher, senior lecturer Dr David Patterson said: “Jamie will be working along with a team of greenkeepers, setting the course up specifically for the Ryder Cup.

“He will learn a lot from how that particular course in Wales is set up and learn a lot from greenkeepers. It’s an internationally prestigious competition and it doesn’t get any better than that.

“It’s great development for him and he can put into practise some of the things that he has learned on our teaching course.”

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