Meet the head greenkeeper: Rab Gordon

Alistair
By Alistair September 23, 2022 09:12

The head greenkeeper at Merchants of Edinburgh Golf Club talks about forthcoming projects and why the club has invested in an articulating mower.

How long have you been head greenkeeper at Merchants of Edinburgh and what has been your career path to this point?

I’ve been head greenkeeper for around 12 years now. I’ve worked at Merchants of Edinburgh since I was 16. I started as an apprentice and then became first assistant, then head greenkeeper. I’ve stayed so long partly because of life circumstances but also I’ve always been happy at the club. We’ve got a team of four at the moment and hope to move up to five.

Which aspects of the job do you enjoy most and what challenges do you face with maintaining the course?

I prefer summer work. I hate the winter nowadays, and the cold now I’m older.

I like cutting fairways and generally seeing the course take shape in a way you don’t get to see in winter. You can see something for your efforts at the end of the week.

The weather is probably the biggest challenge, especially climate change. The climate here is getting a lot wetter and we don’t get the six or seven weeks of snow we used to get in winter. We’re lucky to get snow at all now, it’s just rain all the time. We’ve got a hilly course so if it’s wet it’s difficult to get around the place. I’ve also never known it to be as dry as it has been this summer, and we have an ageing watering system so it’s been a challenge to keep that going until such time as we can replace it.

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

Making it to head greenkeeper was my proudest achievement and it’s great to get good comments about the course, including from the team themselves. Getting good feedback about the condition of the course is the best thing.

The club has invested in a Lastec XR700 trailed articulating mower. Why this model and what results have you seen?

Our service engineers recommended it to us a while back and we trialled a second-hand one and really liked it. It doesn’t leave a lot of cut grass lying around the course and that was the biggest selling point for us, as well as it being very good on hills. We use it mainly on the semi-rough areas and it saves us quite a bit of time compared to a rotary mower because we don’t have to go out and clear up the cut grass afterwards with a blower. We can also use the tractor we need to pull the articulating mower for several other jobs on the course too so it’s cost effective for us compared to a ride-on mower. It’s a sensible investment.

What projects have you got planned on the course for the rest of the year?

We’re going to start a project to level off our tees, and a couple of greens need a bit of drainage work, which we hope to do over winter.
We’ve also got our first ‘greenkeepers’ revenge’ day coming up soon, so I’m looking forward to that but I’m not sure what to expect. We’ll be doing daft things like parking machines and obstacles on the greens, putting a hose around the hole cup, placing flag pins in the bunkers and generally putting a few twists on the course. It’ll be something different and I hope it’ll be a good laugh.

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Alistair
By Alistair September 23, 2022 09:12

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