Thursday we had our usual 4 AM breakfast followed by a 5 AM start time. The pros had a split tee start off 1 and 10 at 7:50 so we all knew we had to get out ahead of play. You can tell that everyone knows their way around the maintenance facility and the course as the staging area was clear much sooner than early in the week.
Dew whips made in-house and carried by each greensmower operator.
Flymoing tee banks.
It was another great morning weather-wise so we all made good time around the course. It was exciting to see the pros and their caddies arriving at the tees and we could even hear them being announced on the 1st and 10th tees from the nearby tees we were working on.
The 10th tee awaiting its first golfers.
In anticipation of a later finish to the day we were told to report back at 5 PM for dinner and a 5:30 PM start for the evening shift. All of us wanted some rest so we welcomed the later reporting time.
The extra time also allowed us a chance to visit Graeme Beatt just up the road at Royal Portrush Golf Club. The club is gearing up for the 2019 Open Championship. It will be only the second time The Open has been played outside of England or Scotland. Royal Portrush also hosted The Open in 1951.
Graeme took the time to show us the two new holes that were under construction when TurfNet played the course as part of our 2015 Members Trip to Ireland. There is also a 90 meter (approx. 200 feet) player tunnel that was constructed at the request of the R&A. To top things off, Graeme has a new maintenance facility that opened earlier in the year.
Graeme Beatt with David and Marty on one of the new greens that was constructed on the Dunluce Course for The 2019 Open Championship.
Graeme shows David one of the new holes on the Dunluce Course. All turf was translocated (moved) from other parts of the course.
For me it was fun to see the work completed after seeing it under construction in 2015. We also had a brief chat with Portrush's Secretary/Manager Wilma Erskine. Wilma was instrumental in getting The Open to Royal Portrush and it is hoped that the club will eventually be on a regular rotation for this major.
Thursday night we decided to have dinner out in Portstewart. We ate at Amici an Italian restaurant on the outskirts of town. Our taxi driver took great delight in explaining, "you'll love the location of this restaurant. It overlooks a golf course!" On cue we all jokingly groaned at that distinction!
The only logistical snag to dinner outside of town was the lack of taxis for the ride home. There were so many visitors in town for the tournament that all the taxis were booked up for other fares. We ended up walking for nearly thirty minutes to get home.
-- Jon Kiger