Lyme golf course manager ‘dream role’ in the US Open

Lyme course manager Jamie Hughes at the US Open

LYME Regis Golf Club’s course manager Jamie Hughes was selected to work at the recent US Open at the Country Club, Brookline, in Boston.

Back in the summer of 2021 Jamie applied on the off chance to work at the U.S Open.  His application was successful and he was one of three British greenkeepers to work at the tournament.

Now back tending the superb greens at his home club, this is Jamie’s once-in-a-lifetime story.

“Lyme Regis golf club very kindly financed my flights, whilst everything else required was covered by the USGA. Each volunteer is treated very highly and receive an unimaginable amount of clothing and accessories to wear and use whilst working on the course and then take home with you. They really do go above and beyond to look after each and every individual.

“The day begins at 4.00am at the Greenkeepers compound with the first team meeting consisting of 150 workers hearing from the Course Superintendent about what he expects for the day and what job is assigned to each Greenkeeper.

“The morning shift begins at 4.15am with everyone heading out to their designated machinery. I had been assigned the job of cutting tees with a Toro pedestrian mower. A small team of six were assigned this task for the morning shifts for the entire week. The tees were cut at 6mm. The job consisted of clearing the tees of any debris and divots ready for mowing. After each tee had been mown, blowers were used to blow off any debris left from the mower. The job would typically take between two and three hours to complete and then the machinery would be taken back to the compound to be washed off, assessed and re-sharpened by a team of mechanics in the workshop.

A brilliant opportunity to meet new greenskeepers and share knowledge

“Once the morning shift had been completed, we had the opportunity and free time to go and watch the golf or catch up on some sleep ready for the afternoon shift at 5.30pm. The free time was a brilliant opportunity to meet new greenkeepers and share knowledge about techniques and challenges each of us face within the industry.

“The evening shift would begin at 5.30pm after a quick team meeting. For me this shift consisted of tee divoting after the day’s play. All divots would be re-seeded and the tee boxes would be blown to remove any debris. This shift would typically take three to four hours and then the shuttle bus would take all volunteers back to their accommodation around 9.30pm. A quick sleep and then wake up to another 3.00am alarm!

“Having 150 Greenstaff descend on the course morning and night is quite a spectacle. Seeing 14 fairway mowers cutting a fairway at the same time and teams of 10 to 15 people hand watering fairways and hotspots is something you don’t see every day. The two most important aspects for the Superintendent for the week were green speeds and the quality and thickness of the rough. Not one person was allowed to drive their works vehicle in the rough at any time – this kept it as penal as possible for the players when a fairway was missed. This attention to the rough isn’t something we typically see over here in the U.K.

“The attention to detail on every blade of grass on the entire site is extraordinary. The television screens don’t do the course justice unfortunately. It really is manicured to perfection. The team at the country club have been preparing for this event for 4 years so when it came to the week everything was in place to create a golf course that really challenged the best in the game.

“The experience has been fantastic for me to see what it takes to prepare a course for a U.S Major championship. I have met a lot of extremely knowledgeable people who I can now call friends and picked up new methods that I can bring back to Lyme Regis Golf Club to hopefully improve the course further.”

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