There’s a quiet revolution underway at Royal Portrush as the club gears up to host the Open Championship possibly as soon as 2019.
The members passed plans in late August to redevelop the Dunluce Links and a new course manager, Graeme Beatt, has recently taken over the reins from the long-serving Joe Findlay.
The 35-year-old Beatt, born and raised in St Andrews, has been handed the onerous task of getting the famous links venue up to ‘Open’ standard but he’s far from daunted by the challenge.
“It’s very exciting. There is going to be a lot of hard work involved but we have the resources to do the job,” said Graeme, who left a similar role at Co Sligo to move to the North Course with his wife and two young children.
“I am taking over from Joe who has done an incredible job here for over 25 years.
“I wouldn’t like to say that I will change everything but between now and the Open, there will be a real focus on attention to detail. Every job we do between now and then is building towards that event so it’s all about getting things done well.
“I think it will be a proud moment for everyone at Royal Portrush and everyone in the area when the Open comes here.”
Beatt has been green keeping since 1995 when he put aside ambitions to become a professional golfer after spending the summer working at Scotscraig GC.
His career has taken him to Kingsbarns in Scotland, Royal Melbourne in Australia, Castle Dargan in Co Sligo and most recently Co Sligo GC where he worked from 2010.
Graeme had been heavily involved in the planning for a major redevelopment of the course at Co Sligo and admits it needed a special opportunity to pry him away.
“I suppose I would not have been going anywhere, only for the fact it was Royal Portrush,” added Beatt.
“It was exciting times at Rosses Point [Co Sligo] and we had started construction before I left. It was good to see the club moving in the right direction. But this job at Royal Portrush is different, it is on a completely different level.
“I remember when I was a child sitting with a book of the world’s top 100 courses and among the top 10 courses on that list I wanted to play was Royal Portrush. To be actually working here is unbelievable.”
And he continued; “For all the greenkeepers here it is a great opportunity for them to showcase their skills.
“A lot of people see the greenkeeper as someone who just cuts grass, but there is lot more to it than that.
“The next few years here are going to be exciting and very busy with a lot of contractors in and around the courses during the redevelopment.
“Thankfully I was working at both Kingsbarns and Castle Dargan during the construction and grow-in phases so I have experience of those types of projects. We will just have to manage things without doing too much damage.”