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Rory, Faldo, Olazabal – this man helped prepare a course for all of them

There wasn't much that passed Raymond Johnson by in 50 years at Ganton. Now the popular greenkeeper has stepped off his mower for the final time
 

Over half a century he just about saw it all. A Curtis Cup. A Walker Cup. Countless amateur championships.

Some of the biggest stars to play the game showed off their excellence on turf he helped to shape. Nick Faldo, Jose Maria Olazabal and Rory McIlroy were just three of the stars to win tournaments during his watch.

It came to an end recently when, after 50 years of outstanding service to Ganton, greenkeeper Raymond Johnson got off his mower for the final time.

But the man who helped present the club for countless regional, national and international matches was sent off in a fitting fashion following his golden jubilee.

An appreciation of his time at the club was given by chair of greens Adam Dewhirst and presentations were made to Ray and his wife Gilly by the captain and lady captain on behalf of the club and by past captain Tony Denness on behalf of the Ganton Trust.

Ganton

A specially compiled photo album covered Ray’s 50 years and he was then invited to officially open the club’s new greenkeeping building – unveiling a plaque that celebrates his half century.

The new compound and machinery replaces those which were lost in a fire a year ago. Ray said he intended to enjoy his retirement with his family and looked forward to returning to Ganton for a game.

Gary Pearce, Ganton general manager, said: “It’s rare that anyone achieves 50 years’ service with a single employer, especially in such a physically demanding role as greenkeeping. 

“Ray’s hard work and loyalty to Ganton has been appreciated by members, guests and his colleagues over the years; he is due a rest, and we all wish him a long and happy retirement.”

Later this year, Ganton will host both the Brabazon Trophy and the R&A Seniors’ Championship.

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Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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