Dream come true

Greenkeeper Simon Olver got the chance to fulfil one of the biggest dreams of his career at Royal Portrush, preparing the final green on the Sunday of an Open Championship before watching Shane Lowry lift the Claret Jug.

Simon, course manager at Whitley Bay Golf Club, worked alongside Royal Portrush course manager Graeme Beatt and his team throughout the event, handmowing the greens on the sixth and 18th holes along with the practice green alongside greenkeeper Andy Barr.

Simon, who was part of a 70-strong team of greenkeepers preparing the course for the week with shifts starting at 4am each day, said: “The atmosphere all week was incredible, right from arriving early in the morning through to being in the crowds on the afternoons. 

“There were great moments throughout the whole week – the main one was fulfilling the dream of cutting the centre line on the 18th green for the Sunday of an Open Championship. It was also amazing to experience the Irish crowds and the tournament itself between all the hard work.

“There were loads of little moments too, like going out with the guys on Saturday evening to fill divots when The R&A had decided to not cut the greens because of the forecast for Sunday. It was great camaraderie with all the guys and something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

While the days were long and tiring at Portrush, Simon walked 138 miles in 10 days, he says the team spirit among the greenkeepers never faltered. “The team was totally relaxed and I think we all enjoyed it. Of course there’s pressure on everyone to do a good job, but everyone knew exactly what they were doing and we all got the chance to enjoy the week, which made it even more special,” he added.