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Should greenkeepers have priority on the golf course?

Who should yield first – greenkeepers or players? On the From the Clubhouse podcast, Steve Carroll had some very firm views on the subject
 

I’ve seen the social media pictures of greenkeepers with huge welts on their head. I’ve admonished a playing partner who sent a shot skyward while staff were working in a greenside bunker. I’ve seen the appeals from BIGGA chiefs urging golfers to show their members a little bit of care and respect.

I’ve also heard players muttering that greenkeepers should ‘get out of the way’. I’ve heard the grumbles that ‘we pay their wages’, and I’ve watched players pacing around in frustration because someone on a mower is on a green working hard to make their surfaces better.

If, by some miracle, you’re still wondering where I stand on the ‘who gets priority on the course?’ debate, let me be clear. Greenkeepers do. Always. Every time.

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It’s interesting this is still a debate – particularly in this health and safety conscious, ambulance chasing lawyer, era in which we live.

But ask enough greenkeepers, or look at enough golf club weekly newsletters, and there will still be the periodic appeal for players to and try and avoid taking out staff with a polyurethane projectile with the propensity to cause massive life-changing injury.

It’s outrageous. It’s irresponsible. It’s dangerous. If you do it, then sod your subs. Your club should empty your locker and kick you to the kerb.

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What about pace of play? Blah blah blah. Just wait a minute, it’s not difficult. Your greenkeeper will do everything they can to make your stay as short as possible.

I’ve got to a ball, to see staff mowing a green, and I’ve sat down quite content for the long haul. But greenkeepers understand golfers want to play, they understand if there’s plenty of people on the course, and they’ll try and get you through as soon as they can.

I can’t think of any other profession where people would think it was OK to put others at risk in such a cavalier fashion – to hit hard, fast moving, objects in their direction and basically dare them to duck.

If we’re not careful, someone’s going to get killed and we’re all going to pay the consequences. Or should we send out our hard-working greenkeepers in hard hats and hi-vis? For the sake of everyone, have a bit of patience. Put down your club and wait.

What do you think? Do you stop when you see a greenkeeper? Should they always have priority? Let me know with a tweet.

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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