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Friday Brings Another Two-Tee Start and a Great Interview


Peter McCormick

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Friday was another early morning 4 AM arrival at the course and a quick rollout to stay ahead of play. The players would be out for another two-tee start (1 and 10) at 7:50 AM and we not only had to be ahead of play on those first tees but well out of the way of those first few tee boxes on each nine.

 

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Several teams of the crew can be seen in this early morning photo on Friday. The River Bamm borders the clubs Riverside Course which was used for infrastructure.

 

My specific duties in the morning are to clean up any litter around the clubhouse and then do the same on each tee complex. With a full complement of spectators on Thursday the clubhouse cleanup took longer than previous days. The main culprits were cigarette butts, empty water bottles and candy wrappers. I used a litter picker (claw style) and a small bucket for the rounds, emptying the latter into a larger bucket on my "buggy". I had an apt comment for one of the security staff who approached me and put his cigarette but directly into my bucket: "Thats one way to cut out the middleman!" Humor is essential at 5:00 in the morning.

 

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Litter collection at European Tour events is on a much smaller scale than at American venues.

 

There isn't much in the way of food wrapper litter for a couple of reasons. First the food areas are restricted to three specific areas on the course: the tented village near the clubhouse, near the practice range and between holes 4, 5 and 6. Second, sports fans in Europe tend to focus on the event rather than spending time and money on the many food options we're used to. The only wrappers to be picked up were from protein bars that were distributed to the players and caddies throughout the week.

 

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Spectators are generally here to watch the golf, not eat their way through the event. But the food areas do have a variety of options, such as this pig roast. 

 

We all made it back to the maintenance facility for our "second" aka "hot" breakfast and then it was back to the house. I took about a two hour nap and then prepared for a special interview. Portstewart has the distinction of having four generations work on the course in the maintenance department. I had been working on the crew with the fourth generation -- Jonny Hemphill -- and he suggested that his father Robert would be a good person to interview about the family's history of service to the club. Robert stopped by at 1 PM for what was to be a 30-45 minute interview. An hour and a half later we were still chatting. Listen to the podcast here.

 

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Robert Hemphill during our interview on Friday.

 

We returned to the course at 4:00 but play had taken longer than expected so we had a more leisurely afternoon meal and headed out closer to 5:30. My evening shift duty is helping to clear the practice range of divots. The range gets smaller each day as the practice line moves back, but that means a larger area to clear each evening. We also have to wait until the last golfer is off the range before using the blower. Fortunately the golfers were clear of the range by 8 PM and we were done collecting the divots by a little after nine.

 

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Blowing off the practice range had to wait until the final golfer was done practicing. In this case around 8 PM.

 

The biggest news of the day was that tournament host and defending champion Rory McIlroy missed the cut and wouldn't be continuing play on the weekend. That will impact the anticipated crowds, but will also give the security officers/police a break as he has a larger following and as expected a large security detail following him.

 

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A couple of motorcycle police parked near the maintenance facility. We shared a "canteen" - aka food hall - with the police security detail during the event. High visibility clothing on emergency personnel is much more the norm in Europe than in the States. 

 

We all opted to stay in Friday night in anticipation of another long day on Saturday. 

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