A week to remember at Riviera

Castle Eden Golf Club’s assistant greenkeeper Dan Robson swapped the North East for a week in the California sun – volunteering to be part of the greenkeeping team for the Genesis Invitational at Riviera.

Dan, 27, was part of the team which prepared the course throughout the week for the PGA Tour signature event, which was hosted by Tiger Woods and won by Hideki Matsuyama with a 19 under-par total.

“I loved every minute of being part of the team at the Genesis – the whole experience was brilliant.

“This was my third tour event – after the Czech Masters and JCB Championship – and I met some great people from some of the best courses in the world, who all came together to support the team at Riviera.

“My job for the week was course clean up, which didn’t sound like a lot at first. Our team was all about the attention to detail – making sure the course was presented as well as possible by blowing debris out of the bunkers, clearing up the clippings after mowing, and generally looking at all the small things which finish off the greenkeeping team’s work,” said Dan, who was one of 42 volunteers who joined the 30-strong Riviera team for the week.

Having been recruited via social media after responding to a call for volunteers, Dan headed to Los Angeles to work alongside the Riviera team and volunteers from around the US, including team members from US Open and PGA Championship venues.

“Being at a PGA Tour event changed how I look at what greenkeepers do at the tournament level. Having a big team allows you to get right down to the smallest details and present the course as close to perfect as possible.

“Getting to meet greenkeepers from all over the US was brilliant. I learned a lot from the guys and already have a couple of invitations to be part of events in the future.

“I can’t thank Castle Eden enough for supporting me to do this. I’m looking forward to applying some of the things I learned to the course this season, and hopefully getting to some more tournaments to build my experience.”

As well as working at the event, with split shifts which saw Dan arrive at the course at 4am and leave late in the evening, he did get to see some of the best players in the world on the course.

“The work was hard, and by the weekend I needed sleep more than watching the golf. That said, I got to see the pro am and plenty of golf the first two days – and I got to meet Rory McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick. I also got to see a bit of Santa Monica, which was amazing.

“I’d recommend volunteering at big tournaments to every greenkeeper – what you see and learn, and the people you meet, make it such a great experience.”