Meet the course manager: Phil Montgomery

By Alistair July 22, 2023 08:08

The course manager at Linlithgow Golf Club in Scotland talks about maintaining a course when there’s just three greenkeepers, bouncing back from course vandalism and how he brushes his greens.

Can you you give a brief description of your background and how you came to work at Linlithgow Golf Club?

I played golf with my dad from a young age and I hate being stuck indoors so the work suited me. Initially I worked here as a summer job and it progressed to an apprenticeship when I was 16, then I stayed for six and a half years. I left and went elsewhere, but one of the guys I did my apprenticeship with became course manager here and asked me if I wanted to come back. When he moved on, he put me forward for his job and I’ve been doing it for about seven years.

What do you enjoy most about your job and what is the biggest challenge you and your team face when maintaining the course?

I like working with my hands and being outside, even in the rain and the snow. It’s a really good job because it’s so varied and there are always different jobs to be doing, you’re never stuck doing one thing constantly.

The biggest challenge at the moment is that there are only three of us: myself, Colin and Connor. There were five of us a few years ago but for various reasons, such as recruitment and finances, we’re sticking with three for now. At the moment it’s not so much of a struggle with three staff because it’s dry and hot, but recently when growth was thriving it was tough. Sometimes it’s just a case of doing what you can and certain things, such as cutting tee banks, become less of a priority. We’d like to do them once a week but we might have to leave them two or three weeks and then it becomes a bigger job. We have to prioritise what has to be done over what we’d like to get done.

What’s been the proudest achievement for you and your team at Linlithgow so far?

A couple of years ago we had some really bad vandalism on the course. We had 13 greens sprayed with weed killer and, through perseverance and hard work, we managed to get the greens back to a really good standard. Now you wouldn’t even know anything had happened. I was sceptical at first that we would have any greens left but I think they’re even better now than they were before and I’m proud of everybody for their work.

The club invested in a Sweep-N-Fill III brush. Why did you select this piece of equipment?

I’ve used this model on hire before so I knew what it was like. It’s hard to get sand in the ground up here and sometimes the greens have been bumpy because the holes weren’t being filled. I spoke to the committee and persuaded them that the Sweep-N-Fill was the right brush for us if we wanted to avoid complaints. Adrian at Double A was really helpful with getting it sorted for us.

Is it easy to use, what areas are you using it on and has it improved the surface?

The brush is really simple to use. You just hook it up to the back of whatever you’re going to tow it with, plug it in and go. We used it a week ago for a brush on a light topdressing and even the following day you could barely see the sand. It gets the sand right where it needs to be and that wasn’t the case when we were using a dragmat. The Sweep-N-Fill III is a piece of equipment with a lot of different uses and I’m looking forward to trying it out even more during our maintenance week in July.

What are you working on at the moment and what projects have you got planned?

We’ll probably do a bit of construction work in the winter and perhaps renovate a couple of bunkers. There are a couple of tees that need straightening out, too. I’d also like to say a big thank you to Colin and Connor for their hard work and support. Colin is due to retire this year; he started here when he was 16 and is a real asset to the club.

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By Alistair July 22, 2023 08:08

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