Three greenkeepers at Macdonald Hotels and Resorts are celebrating close to a century of tending to some of the country’s finest golf courses.
Michael Evans, Barry Robinson and Justin Lee have clocked up 92 years of service between them, and have had front row seats to watch the sport evolve into the popular game it is today.
Their loyalty to Macdonald Hotels & Resorts has given them an insight into the running of a successful hotel and golf course, having started in junior positions and gradually progressed to manager level. The exception is Barry, who came to Macdonald Portal Hotel, Golf & Spa as head greenkeeeper in 1989 and oversaw its initial construction.
Today, set in the heart of the Cheshire countryside, and with its 18-hole Championship and Premier Golf Courses and 9-hole Arderne course, Macdonald Portal Hotel, Golf & Spa is one of the country’s most distinctive world-class championship golf venues.
Describing his current role as Estates Manager, Barry says: “Golfers demand perfection, day in, day out. If you’re going to be the best, as we strive to be, you have to live and breathe the job, and enjoy every part of it. That’s the secret to our success and we three are living proof that it works!”
Portal’s Course Manager, Justin Lee, puts his success down to an ability to adapt: “I stay fresh and enthusiastic by constantly thinking of new ideas and ways to go the extra mile for our guests. Training tomorrow’s greenkeepers and helping them progress is one of the best parts of the job.”
Designed by world-famous golf course architects and Ryder Cup legends, Peter Alliss and Dave Thomas, the 18-hole Emerald and Sapphire golf courses at Macdonald Hill Valley Hotel, Golf & Spa make it one of the top 10 golf venues in the UK.
Michael started at Hill Valley as an apprentice in 1975, and took over as head greenkeeper 15 years later, a role he has kept ever since.
Michael comments: “Over the last 40 years, I’ve enjoyed seeing the sport change from an elite pastime to a game that’s open to people from all walks of life.
“There’s nothing I like more than cutting the greens on a summer’s morning, and seeing the course at its best before the first tee of the day.”
Macdonald Hotels & Resorts boasts seven celebrated golf courses across the UK, which were recently audited by new director of golf, Keith Pickard, and scored particularly highly on the cut of the grass and the agronomic quality of the greens.
Keith comments: “A golf course is only as good as its greenkeepers, and we’re extremely lucky to have such a fantastic team of experienced and dedicated staff looking after our courses.
“It’s an absolute pleasure to work with Michael, Barry and Justin and we congratulate them on reaching this milestone together. It’s no surprise that they’ve had such successful careers on the greens as their work is world-class.”
Macdonald Hotels and Resorts www.MacdonaldHotels.co.uk/portal