Welcome to TurfNet on Tour, the blog showcasing our US-based team of volunteers at the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Portstewart Golf Club on the coast of Northern Ireland. Four representatives from TurfNet will represent 10% of the volunteer maintenance force for this European Tour Rolex Series event.
This year the tournament was moved from May to July and that presented a challenge to host superintendent Bernard Findlay. Just as in the States, greenkeepers here are needed at their respective courses in the middle of summer. We are delighted to provide course workers with a variety of backgrounds and skills to help ensure the success of this event. We will be part of a smaller combined crew by US tournament standards and will rise to the challenge of delivering and maintaining tournament conditions for the week.
Portstewart Golf Club, home of the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
During a March visit to the course Bernard explained that their course often flies under the radar compared to the other two great links courses in the area (World No. 1 Royal County Down and Royal Portrush Golf Club which is hosting The Open Championship in 2019.) What I saw was an amazing links course that will be a great stage for Ireland's National Championship. Infrastructure-wise, it will be a dry run for the area for when they host The Open in just two years' time.
Personally this is another chance for me to experience first hand the hours and hard work that superintendents and crews endure on a daily basis. My first experience last year was especially insightful and this year should be as well.
Bernard Findlay, course manager at Portstewart and our "boss" for the week.
The area around Portstewart is awash in history and attractions, should weather and time allow a few side trips. Everything from Giants Causeway to the walled city of Derry are an easy drive for our midday breaks from our duties. We'll be sure to report on those, too.
Finally, we all know that a big part of the TurfNet experience is the friendships that are made within this community. It was a pleasure to look at this year's group of TurfNet volunteers and realize that I've visited each of their courses in the past few years.
David Escobedo in Arizona has been featured in our Tips and Tricks video series at two different courses there. Dana Chase and I met during his first volunteer assignment at the Ryder Cup in Wales in 2010 and when he returned home I filmed at his former course in Massachusetts. Our TurfNet summer intern Marty Richardson is on loan from his summer job at The Island Golf Club outside of Dublin. His most recent US position was working at Hazeltine with Chris Tritabaugh during the years leading up to and including the 2016 Ryder Cup and it was great to see him in action there last September. I am sure the friendships will be even stronger after a week together in our modest rented "holiday home" in Portstewart, below.