RYDER CUP: Green staff saved the tournament

RYDER CUP: Green staff saved the tournament

UNSUNG HEROES: The Celtic Manor ground staff clear the water from the course

RYDER CUP: Green staff saved the tournament

First published in Ryder Cup news South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

THEY are the unsung heroes without whom the Ryder Cup would never have finished. So as the competition reached its climax, it may appear strange that the green staff were not revelling in the glory of their success but were hidden away in a portable office off Bulmore Road and the fifth green.

135 green staff worked 15-hour days from 5am till 8.30pm over the four days of the tournament. As they crowded around a television, tired, and watching the tournament’s closing stages unfold, it was the pictures being beamed around the world that gave them more satisfaction than anything.

Course director Jim McKenzie said the blue skies and the green fairways yesterday were "what the world will remember".

He said: "These pictures make it all worth it. It was a massive effort and it is always the last day that people remember. This is a great advert for Wales and golf."

Mr McKenzie admitted that there were some dark periods when spirits were low but he added the reaction was incredible and the guys saved the day on Friday and Sunday.

In total there were 135 people involved in the effort. 90 of these volunteered from the UK, European countries such as Denmark and Ireland, and the USA.

Many of these camped at the site in vans, portable cabins and caravans.

Staff’s main problem was getting the water off greens fairways and bunkers and spent their time pushing it towards the drainage and open gullies.

He said they got the forecast a couple of days before the tournament started and took measures for cutting the fairway an extra time before the tournament.

Chris Leach, 50, from Ringland, has been working at the course for nine years and has been cutting fairways during the tournament.

He said: "I’ve been here from 5.30am till 8.30pm every day. Some have been here a lot longer putting chip bark down for spectators to walk on. I’ve not had much sleep but it’s been well worth the effort."

Mr Leach added: "In a way we’re disappointed it went into Monday but I’m glad it finished in this glorious weather as it gives a better impression of Wales."

Dan Harden, 42, from Caerleon, took a week off work to volunteer at the course.

He was pushing water off the bunkers and the green calling it "a mammoth effort all round".

He said: "I’m tired but we’re all really buzzing, it’s going so well. I’ve had great feedback from the players."

Mark Hunt is a volunteer from Leicestershire and was staying in a campervan on site.

His job is to work with fertilisers making sure the grass doesn’t grow too fast or too slow and looks good on television.

He called the work over the last few days a "shock to my system".

He said: "They have been very long days with not a lot of sleep but the spirit yesterday among all the lads was fantastic. It’s put greenkeeping on the map, and the course looks fantastic now."

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