Celtic Manor greenkeepers Neil Shepherd and Noel O’Connell must be gluttons for punishment.
Not content with their superhuman efforts in saving the 2010 Ryder Cup from the deluge we saw in Wales, the pair of intrepid irrigation engineers are willing to go through it all again to make sure this year’s showcase is just as successful.
Neil and Noel will hand on the baton as European Ryder Cup hosts to Gleneagles when they travel up to the Scottish venue to assist the course preparations for this year’s match against the Americans.
They will be there for the week assisting the greenkeeping effort at Gleneagles and will be ready with the squeegees if the weather takes another turn for the worse. Neil said:
We’ll have our wellies and waterproofs packed but let’s hope we don’t need them this time! You can never predict what will happen at these events, all we can do is be prepared for anything that gets thrown our way. Our main area of responsibility will be removing excess water from the course and it’s fair to say we got enough practice at our Ryder Cup.
Neil and Noel were part of the heroic greenkeeping team at Celtic Manor which managed to get the course back in playable condition despite torrential rain storms on Friday and Sunday morning which forced the event into an extra day on Monday for the first time. Noel added:
The Ryder Cup here at Celtic Manor was an unforgettable experience – probably the hardest shift we’ve ever put in but also the most rewarding. It would have been awful if we had not managed to get the match finished and it was even better when Europe ended up winning - Monty even gave us a mention in the closing ceremony. Fingers crossed it will stay dry and be more straightforward this time. We might even get to watch some golf!
Celtic Manor Director of Golf Courses and Estates Jim McKenzie will also be making the trip to Gleneagles and will be on hand to offer advice and assistance if required. Jim was awarded an MBE for his efforts in leading the gruelling greenkeeping effort of 2010.
All three will of course have a busy time this week as they work with the rest of the Celtic Manor greenkeeping team to present the Twenty Ten Course in immaculate condition for another ISPS HANDA Wales Open.