The BIGGA volunteers at this year’s BMW PGA Championship played a huge part in ensuring the tournament was a success as they battled storms and heavy rain throughout an extremely challenging greenkeeping week.
Dozens of BIGGA members headed to Wentworth from as far afield as the north-east of England to join Kenny Mackay’s home greenkeeping team.
For the first time, the team raked for matches on all four days – and their skills were really tested as repeated downpours and thunderstorms led to several suspensions of play and delayed starts.
Their hard work, dedication and professionalism was rewarded with a much sunnier Sunday and some dramatic golf as Rory McIlroy came from seven shots behind to claim the title with a superb 66.
The team then posed with the Northern Irishman on the 18th alongside Kenny, who commented: “The BIGGA team were a fantastic support to the Wentworth greenkeeping team during the BMW Championship. Without them we would have been extremely hard pushed to have got the golf going on the Saturday.
“A very big thank you to the Wentworth team and the BIGGA team who helped to ensure the golf course was in top condition for the tournament.”
Storms on the Thursday which suspended play meant some members of the BIGGA Support Team were required to be on the course at 4.30am on Friday morning to clear debris ahead of the 7am start. One of the team was Steve Hopkins, Assistant Greenkeeper at Burghley Park Golf Club.
He said: “Obviously you have to be on your toes when you volunteer for an event of this importance, but when the weather is against you I think you’re even more switched on because you could be needed at almost any time of day. This was proved when a group of us were out blowing leaves out of the bunkers at 4.30am.
“But it was a wonderful experience with terrific greenkeepers from across the country. It was very hard work, but it was just great to be inside the ropes seeing the professionals play all manner of remarkable shots. I raked for both Thomas Bjorn and Shane Lowry during the week who both played some brilliant golf.”
Luke Elgie, greenkeeper from Rushmore Golf Club, said: “This as my first year volunteering for this Championship and it was a fantastic experience. It was great to work alongside the pros and network with the rest of the team – thank you BIGGA for the opportunity.”
Jim Croxton, BIGGA Chief Executive, said: “We are grateful to all the volunteer greenkeepers who gave up their time to support the tournament. It is a credit to this industry to see so many qualified and experienced greenkeepers willingly volunteering their services this way. It was a great team effort all round and played a huge part in ensuring that the paying and watching public were able to witness such an enthralling tournament.”