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The Hemphills: Four generations of greenkeepers at Portstewart


Peter McCormick

5,945 views

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With the average tenure of a US golf course superintendent at one course is between four and five years it's hard to imagine one family being employed by an individual club for four generations over 100 years, but that's exactly the case with the Hemphill family and Portstewart Golf Club. Jonathan "Jonny" Hemphill is currently a greenkeeper on Bernard Findlay's staff and his family has a rich history of service to the club.

 

In this audio interview we visit with Jonny's father Robert Hemphill who worked for fourteen years at Portstewart Golf Club before leaving to ultimately work a municipal job maintaining bowling greens in the area and helping to grow in/maintain a nine hole executive course. Robert's father, uncle and grandfather all worked at Portstewart Golf Club.

 

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Jonny Hemphill, fourth generation greenkeeper at Portstewart Golf Club;

with Dana Chase, out on the course, below.

 

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Here Robert discusses the Hemphill/Portstewart family tree and explains ways of maintaining the course that seem primitive by today's standards. He shares his insights into the evolution of greenkeeping and even explains that rabbit trapping was a way to protect the course while providing food to families in the area and additional income for themselves.

 

 

Portstewart Golf Club takes this legacy of service seriously and has a large (3 x 5 feet) photo of Robert's father James and his uncle Robert. Robert's grandfather James Hemphill started at the club in the early 1900s when they acquired additional property and developed what is now the Strand Course -- the host course for the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

 

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James Hemphill (left- Robert's father) and his brother Robert (right - Robert's uncle) in a large photo in the Portstewart Golf Club clubhouse.

 

 

Backing track for the audio interview, Escaldarium/The Greenkeeper by Northern Ireland traditional band Connla, used by permission.

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