"You know it's been an amazing week when you start getting regular texts from Mossy in the Netherlands, Paddy in Mullingar, and Josh in the UK..."
It has taken me a nearly three weeks (and getting over a nasty cold picked up over there) to compile my thoughts on just what our week of work at the Irish Open meant to me. It greatly exceeded my expectations on so many levels.
First -- I have the utmost respect and admiration for Course Manager Gerry Byrne. He and his team had to do so much in
It's hard to put into words my final thoughts on this past week, not knowing where to start. The words "icing on the cake" come to mind.
All the hard work, all the long hours, all the frazzled nerves and frustrations with the weather were washed away in the rain.
Knowing that we were all a part of history made it very special. Reading the Irish newspapers the day after, really brought it home that we were a part of that.
For me it was even more special as three of my students were on the g
All finished now with last week's volunteer experience at the 2016 Irish Open. The week flew by. However, the early mornings until the late nights made each day seem as long as a week. And each day held its own adventure.
Through each adventure, the greenkeeping crew became closer. The crew was made up of many great individuals in this industry whom I am grateful to have met. Each person brought key skills and characteristics to the group creating a well-rounded and very entertaining atmosph
Sunday brought a 5 AM start and a quick spin around the course. A handful of groups would be out at 7:30 starting on 16. We raked 18 first as a large group (as we had done each day) and then split into our smaller groups to work through the back nine.
As we finished up at 15 the players were arriving on the 16th tee so I decided to catch a few tee shots. After breakfast at the K Club employee canteen we returned to Lucan to rest up and watch the tournament when coverage started.
After two days of relatively good weather, the rainy day we all knew was coming arrived on Saturday. We experienced two lightning warnings in the afternoon and a steady then lashing rain.
We did our best to mow fairways and fill divots when it was safe to be back on the course. It was of course, all hands on deck for volunteers and full time staff. Many hands made light work and we were pleased that all this happened during the smaller field. Fewer players means fewer divots to find and fill
Reporting to work at 4 AM creates a special bond. This is my friend Neil McCarrick from County Meath. He works for a construction company there but is working the golf tournament this week. Neil and I are on the back nine bunker crew so we spend the first three early hours of the day together. As has been the case with so many people I meet in Ireland we are instant friends and the craic and banter is non-stop.
Neil has four kids - three boys and a girl all of whom are involved in sports (most
When we arrived to start work on the Irish Open at the K Club we were surprised to meet two other Americans in town to help with the event. John Fleck (Colden, NY) and Brian Coyne (Hamburg, NY) are longtime friends of Gerry Byrne's and worked during the 2006 Ryder Cup.
They were back to bring their many years of golf management expertise to tournament week. John is currently with Professional Turf Services and Brian is a longtime superintendent in upstate New York. They were instantly deemed
It's been really neat to volunteer with Jon Kiger and Nathan McKinniss at the Irish Open.
Nathan reminded me that he initially came to me (at the Ohio State intern program) looking at going to Torrey Pines in California and I somehow talked him into going to Ireland. He is very happy I did as he will have an Open tournament on his resume and a 'pot of gold experience' as a result along with a massive network of great people in the industry.
This was Jon's first tournament also. As a resu
After several consecutive days of helping Pat in the shop, we were offered the opportunity to have a little fun Friday afternoon. I often fish for bass at the pond at Framingham CC before starting work, so I jumped at the chance to try fly fishing for trout in Ireland. Burnout Bill (the K Clubs nickname for him, not mine) mows rough, valets cars, and serves as the resident fly fishing guide at the K Club.
We took a utility vehicle up to the K Club's Fishing Lodge and checked out our gear. Wi
With the prospect of rain for Saturday and Sunday it seemed like Friday afternoon would be the best chance to catch some of the competition. Josh Dunn, Mossy Daly, Mike OKeeffe, Pete Williams, Katie Stillwell and I decided to walk the course for a few holes. I must say seeing the crowds and players around bunkers I raked and divots I filled was a personal thrill. When youre out on the course alone its hard to visualize the end result of your work on the course during the tournament.
The Pro-Amateur round is held Wednesday, the day before the Irish Open tournament begins. By now the course is ready and rolling well. Comments from approaching golfers have been nothing but positive!
Sunrise, reporting for duty at 4:15 AM
Again I began the day making my laps on the intermediate rough. The morning start was very early in order to get ahead of today's golfers. There's no complaints, though, as we are used to starting before the sunrise.
The afternoon shift consisted
Wednesday afternoon at the Lucan Golf Club...
With the Irish Open Pro-Am in full swing at the K Club, we were given the afternoon off before returning to fill divots on the course. We were invited to play the Lucan Golf Club (adjacent to the Lucan Spa Hotel our headquarters hotel for the week) by course manager Richie Doyle and sponsor on the day, Frank Byrne.
Lucan Golf Club was established in 1897 and is a fairly typical parkland course in Ireland except for some of the elevation
Nate, Mike and I are on a split shift. We arrive at the course at 4:15 AM and head out to rake the bunkers (or in Nates case to mow intermediate rough.) After breakfast around 9 AM we are sometimes free to return to our hotel in Lucan until returning to the course at 4 PM for an early evening session of divoting.
Loading up divot mix.
On Tuesday we had a relatively easy day of divoting as we were only repairing divots from the relatively few number of pros who were practicing Monday an
What a way to start an adventure.
Upon my arrival in Ireland, via England, I found myself settling down in the great village of Dundalk and meeting up with Jon Kiger, who has now become an old friend.
Jon's knowledge of Ireland is awesome. From a local barber shop, smartly located behind a candy store, to a locals pub named the Cobblestone in Dublin. After some great food, great music and I'm sure you'll figure out how I feel about the pints, we made our way towards the K Club.
It was great to catch up with one of my past interns who is now a full time employee here at the K-Club.Joe Carthy interned at the prestigious Pebble Beach resort while on the TOP program. He was involved in three tournaments while at Pebble Beach, the last being the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February.
Joe said the time in the States prepared him well to start into working at The K-Club the week of the Irish Open. Joe just lives 20 minutes away, having work previously at Naas GC with Davi
Monday, first full day of tournament week. In the morning I got back on the sidewinder to burn in the lines of the intermediate rough around tees, fairways, bunkers, greens and the players walking path. Patrick (Patty) and I were placed with this task going hole to hole. It is only one pass along the tees and fairways but maneuvering around the mass of bunkers can be very tricky.
Getting fueled up...
... and getting out and at it.
After completing the intermediate rough and enjoy
With everyone onsite by Sunday afternoon, Gerry Byrne hosted a kickoff night complete with that staple of Irish culture: Irish music. Volunteers were entertained by the sounds of Home Brew. TurfNet Ireland 2015 trip participants will recall hearing them on our final Saturday in Dublin last October. They played a nice mix of Irish ballads and classic favorites.
It wasn't a particularly late night, however, as we were due at the course by 5:30 to start dialing in the tournament conditions.
Friday of last week arrived and after a full days work, my family drove me to Logan Airport in Boston. As mentioned previously this is my first international trip and I was excited about the opportunity. I was surprised to learn that the woman sitting next to me on the plane was from Boylston just two towns over from me.
After no sleep on the plane I caught my first glimpse of the Irish countryside Saturday morning. I was struck by the incredible asymmetrical countryside. All the farms had
Monday of Open Week, tournament prep shifts into high gear. Below are some photos from this morning's activities around the K Club. Quite a different scale from the major tournaments in the US.
Lead technician Pat Freaney compares notes with TurfNet volunteers Pete Williams and Dana Chase.
Pete and Dana setting up a Flex 21.
Volunteer John Fleck dew-whipping greens after rolling.
Morning mow. The weather has been beautiful so far but rain is expected to
One member of our TurfNet Team at the K Club this week is Nate McKinniss, a fourth-year student at Ohio State who is currently interning at County Louth Golf Club/Baltray, just north of Dublin near Drogheda. He is taking the week off from Baltray to work with us at the K Club. But all is not work...
Plunging right into Irish culture, Nate has earned himself a new nickname: Nate McGuinness (get it... McKinniss/McGuinness?). Below is Nate (left) with K Club course manager Gerry Byrne (cente
I got in early on Friday afternoon. It was great to catch up with Gerry Byrne and some of his friends from the States, Brian Coyne and John Fleck from upstate New York. We set off rolling greens with a greens roller, or as they say in Ireland a "Greensiron".
Saturday morning saw me knee deep in geraniums and other colorful flowers being planted in the privet hedge logo of the K-Club in front of the Palmer club house.
I fell in with a temporary staff who knew very little about the club
This morning we reported for duty at 6 AM and I was assigned with local volunteer Stephen Rynne to sweep off and remove moss from a players pedestrian bridge that was formerly covered in astroturf.
As we completed the cleanup of the bridge, course manager Gerry Byrne was concerned that it would now be too slippery given the anticipated rain later in the week. He wanted to add a layer of sand to the grooves in the bridge. He started to order up a utility vehicle of sand and two shovels for us
After a few days spent visiting friends and adjusting to the time zone change, we are finally assembling at the K Club for our first day on the course. Most of the volunteers arrive today and we will be fully staffed by midday tomorrow.
The warmth and sunshine of the last two days was much needed and welcomed by not only course manager Gerry Byrne but everyone we spoke to. There isnt a more weather-obsessed country than Ireland.
When I first thought of coming to Ireland to help on the
Jon Kiger: Advertising/Membership/Video for TurfNet
Background: I am the primary advertising/sponsorship salesperson for TurfNet and also produce much of our video content. Ive enjoyed covering tournaments and events for TurfNet.
Previous International Travel: I have lost track of the number of times I have been to Ireland for TurfNet business or vacations visiting friends. I thoroughly enjoy helping people experience this great country, particularly in off the beaten path places and th
Nathan McKinniss, TurfNet student intern, County Louth Golf Club, Ireland
Background: I am a senior at the Ohio State University, and interned on the greens staff for two summers at Brookside Golf and Country Club. During the school year I work part time in the greens dept. but mostly Food and Beverage in the clubhouse. Every summer since I was 16 I have been employed with golf course maintenance.
Previous International Travel: My international travel experience began two weeks ago when