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Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Golf from the Grass Roots

Over the past year Nigel and I have undergone an amazing (or so it seems to us) change. Instead of being somewhat daunted by the responsibility of running a golf course, we find we love it.

Lochranza Golf Course has its assets that are also its challenges. It’s dominated by huge shoulders of mountain in three directions, and in the fourth opens out to the castle and the sea. Sometimes the sea floods in at the lower end of the course, leaving tide lines of debris. The golf course grass is irresistible to red deer who make mud baths, not to mention droppings that have to be swept up. Until May, the lease is shared with hill sheep and as I write this, little black-faced lambs are appearing everywhere.

What then has brought about the change in us? Of course when you find yourself in the deep end it takes a while to start swimming, but I think it’s got more to do with that, by working with it, we are getting to know every corner of the course intimately, as well as the trees and plants, birds, animals and insects it supports. It’s satisfying and rewarding work; you can see progress when you’ve cleared a ditch or shaped a fairway to make it pleasing to the eye and an enhancement to a good game of golf. Now when I look at golf courses I see the skill of green keepers.

So, although we’ve been here a year, working on a golf course is still a bit amazing to Nigel and me. It wasn’t part of our career and lifestyle change wish lists, but all I can say now, with the benefit of a little experience is, if you love the outdoors and the land, I’d strongly recommend it.

Replacing a dated and crumbling bunker with a more natural looking turfed hollow.

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