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Many happy returns for Tom

Tom McKay is delighted to return to his golfing roots at Didsbury as the new head green-keeper where he began his career.

Tom outlined his time in green-keeping from beginning to now:

“I started green-keeping on my 17th birthday. This was the start of my first spell at Didsbury Golf Club which lasted just over six years.

I was taken on as a fresh-faced apprentice, knowing nothing about the role other than it was outside and probably had something to do with golf.

I quickly fell in love with the role and knew I had found my calling.

In a team of five established greenkeepers led by Head greenkeeper Stuart Pugh, I learned a lot in my initial months which helped me pass my level 2 apprenticeship through Myerscough College in 2018.

After a short spell of being a qualified assistant greenkeeper, I was promoted to first assistant under a new Head Greenkeeper, Rob Davies.

This was my role for the next three years at Didsbury in which I helped shape the course and learn management skills which got me to my position today.

I also gained more qualifications in this time such as the ability to spray chemicals and fell trees, both essential skills to possess in this industry.

In 2022 I moved across the river and took on a new venture at Withington Golf Club as Deputy Course Manager under Course Manager Garry Higgins.

This was a great experience to see how another course is run and set up as I had only worked at Didsbury previously.

Although the courses are very similar in location, the set up is different, and I felt that moving away from Didsbury would help me progress in my career.

In the late stages of 2023, I applied for the vacant position of Course Manager back at Didsbury Golf Club. I was successful and find myself in this new position.

I feel that all my previous roles at Didsbury and my brief move away has put me in an excellent position to head the greenkeeping team as I have worked my way up from the bottom to the top and have knowledge of more than one course.

I’ve met some excellent people throughout my journey that have helped me get to my current position. I’d like to give a mention to my previous Head Greenkeepers, Stuart Pugh at Didsbury, Garry Higgins at Withington, and finally Rob Davies, who during my time as an apprentice took me under his wing and taught me much of my trade. Working under these men was a pleasure and I hope I can take traits from them all to make me successful in my role.

As this is my second time at Didsbury, I know the course very well. I understand the limitations due to its location and climate, however this won’t stop the team trying to get It the best it can be.

Water management is a key factor for us as in the winter months we can suffer from flooding. As such I am starting to put plans in place to help manage this, such as new ponds and drainage projects throughout the course.

Upon my return to DIdsbury, it was great to see so many familiar faces. I have been welcomed back with a great warmth and excitement and hope to fulfill the needs of both the course and membership alike.

Having not worked with any of my current team previously, it has been great to get to know the team who I’ll be working with daily and am looking forward to a great season ahead.

Not only do I work in this area, but I also play golf in my spare time. I’m currently a member of Chorlton Cum-Hardy Golf Club.handicap 14.6, and I try to play as much as I can which typically results in twice a week, providing the weather is good.

Working in the rain and playing in the rain doesn’t mix for me unfortunately! I think it’s very useful to have knowledge of the local courses to not only compare, but also pick up different methods and practices that we at Didsbury may not be aware of. I think it’s important for greenkeepers to play and have a knowledge of golf as they can fully understand why and what they are doing in their daily work.”

Geoff Garnett