Life has changed “beyond belief” for one youngster who applied for a job at the five red star Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa in St Andrews.
Craig Snowdon is only 23 and has always had a love of golf. He explains: “I’d always wanted to be a green-keeper. My home in Stenhousemuir backed onto the golf course, so I didn’t have far to go to work!” But he was made redundant from his club in Falkirk earlier this year. Whilst many may have worried about the next steps, Craig looked to find work in the role that he loved. He applied for a job on the green-keeping staff at the Duke’s in St Andrews, and started in April.
Derek Robson, head green-keeper at the Duke’s, liked Craig’s enthusiasm, saying: “We get a lot of people approaching us. Craig was clearly passionate about the game and has a love of working on the course. As he had served his apprenticeship, we knew he could also ‘hit the ground running’ – so we offered him a job.”
Craig’s duties include mowing the greens, tees, approaches and fairways as well as an array of additional skills covering spraying and rolling. Derek explains: “We try to ensure all our staff are competent in all tasks to provide them with a better experience and greater flexibility.”
And Craig’s enthusiasm has paid off. Within two months, he had earned himself a place on an exchange programme where green-keepers can work at some of the main tournaments on the European Tour. Craig found himself in Paris, working with the team preparing the course for the French Open, won by Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell. Craig says: “It was some experience. One I’ll never forget.”
Through Derek’s connections – and the resort’s links with Whistling Straits in the US – the Duke’s has been involved in a number of staff exchanges. Derek adds: “In 2010, three of our team volunteered to help at the USPGA at Whistling Straits. The contacts made then have spread around the world. This winter, Craig will be heading to Australia to work under the watchful eye of Ryan Irwin at the Peninsula Country Club in Melbourne.”
But the heady heights of global green-keeping do not end there for Craig Snowdon. Derek explains: “After March, Craig heads to the States on an internship via the Ohio State Programme and hopes to secure a place at Pinehurst, host for both the men’s and women’s US Open in 2014.”
Manager at The Duke’s, David Scott, is “very proud” of his team, saying: “Derek does a great job recognising, recruiting and supporting young talent. This year alone, members of Derek’s green-keeping staff have worked at the Scottish Open, the European Masters and the Italian Open. The name of the Duke’s travels far and wide – and it reflects very well on the training provided as well as the standards we demand.”
The final word goes to Craig. Asked “where next” on his tour, he says: “I’m not sure! This time last year I was walking to work in Falkirk. The journey is incredible, I’m excited to be heading to Australia – and I am very lucky to have this opportunity.”
Duke’s St Andrewshttp://www.oldcoursehotel.co.uk/golf/dukes_landing.html