The greenkeeping team at Deeside Golf Club in Aberdeenshire is celebrating after being crowned BIGGA Awards winners at BTME 2018, while talented young greenkeeper Alistair Morrison from Durness was also recognised.
Led by Course Manager Neil McLoughlin, 41, the Deeside greenkeeping team were announced as the winner of the BIGGA Greenkeeping Achievement of the Year Award sponsored by Baroness, at a ceremony held this evening in the Harrogate Convention Centre’s Royal Hall.
When Storm Frank hit Aberdeenshire (pictured top) the day before New Year’s Eve in 2015, it caused the River Dee to reach record levels, three times covering the course in a thick layer of silt and debris.
In the aftermath, the team was able to get 10 holes reopened after just 77 days and the clean-up saw over six tonnes of grass seed laid down, 10,000m2 of turf laid and all 98 bunkers rebuilt, using 3,000 tonnes of sand for topdressing and bunkers.
During 2017 the hard work continued, with the silt layer impeding drainage. Over 400m of drainage was installed and a programme of scarification and topdressing helped break down the silt layer further.
The Deeside team was presented with the award by television presenter and #ThisGirlGolfs ambassador Naga Munchetty at the BIGGA Welcome Celebration sponsored by Textron Golf.
Neil said: “It’s a real honour to win this award. Storm Frank came in and devastated the whole Dee Valley and the golf course ended up in a hell of a state. We do flood quite a lot, but generally we call them clean floods.”
BIGGA Chief Executive Jim Croxton said: “Of the golf clubs who were hit hard by the devastation that Storm Frank wrought in December 2015, it was perhaps Deeside who were hit hardest of all.
“For greenkeepers who dedicate their lives to maintaining a relatively small patch of land, the damage must have been heartbreaking. It is therefore to Neil and his team’s immense credit that they were able to pick themselves up and restore the course to its former glory.
“I cannot praise the greenkeeping team highly enough for the work they have done to get Deeside back on its feet. They are truly an inspiration to greenkeepers all over the country and they are worthy recipients of this year’s BIGGA Greenkeeping Achievement of the Year Award sponsored by Baroness.”
Meantime, Alistair, 25, is head greenkeeper at Durness GG and was announced as the winner of the BIGGA Young Greenkeeper of the Year Award.
Alistair began his career as an apprentice at Brora, before moving back to his hometown club at Durness. As the only member of the greenkeeping team at the most north-westerly course on mainland Britain, the role requires a huge amount of dedication and commitment to personal development and the development of the course.
During his three years at Brora, Alistair volunteered at three European Tour events, including the European Masters in Switzerland.
Alistair said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have won, I certainly never expected this! I’m from a small village of around 300 people, we rely mainly on tourists, and I do have a good relationship with my club. As a small community you get to know everyone at the club, as they’re all friends, family, neighbours, and I’m delighted to have been able to represent them on such a massive scale.”
The awards ceremony is one of the highlights of BTME 2018, the premier turf management exhibition in Europe.
Bigga’s Turf Management Exhibition 2018 runs until Thursday 25 January and features more than 150 exhibitors from all aspects of the turf management industry. Each year more than 4,500 greenkeepers, trade members, club managers and other representatives of the golfing industry come together to network and share news of the latest education and innovation.