IT’S a busy year for Fairhaven greenkeeper Craig Morris – with and without a club in his hand!
Later in 2012, he will launch the defence of his North West regional greenkeepers’ championship, which he won at the Dunham Forest course in Altrincham.
And before that, he will be part of a small, but dedicated team that is preparing for the arrival at Fairhaven of some of the best young golfers from Britain and further afield, coming to a climax with the Royal and Ancient’s Junior Open Championship in July.
It will take place between July 16 and 18, attracting the best young golfers from all parts of the globe.
Seventy-five countries are expected to be represented.
Morris, who plays off a handicap of 18, and has worked at Fairhaven for six years, beat off opposition from rivals from across the region to take the greenkeepers’ title under the stableford format.
It is run by the British and International Golf Greenkeepers’ Association, and Morris won the autumn competition with a total of 38 points, two clear of his nearest rival.
Morris is in his sixth year as an assistant greenkeeper at Fairhaven, prior to which he worked for a national diploma in sports turf studies at Myerscough College, part of which included work at Royal Birkdale.
He is currently studying for an FdSC sports turf degree on-line with Myerscough.
The picturesque course hosts the Fairhaven Trophies from May 4 to 6, while the Junior Open Championship acts as a curtain-raiser to the Open proper at Royal Lytham.
Morris said: “It will be a very good test for the best young golfers in the world, playing on a course that measures 7,000 yards off the back tees and has plenty of bunkers.
“Whoever wins the Junior Open will certainly have deserved it.
“Over the last five years we have been making changes to the course such as lengthening holes, re-positioning and re-sizing bunkers, so that players are forced to think more about shot selection on the course.
“This winter we have built new faces on 30 of our bunkers as well as re-sizing some of those bunkers, to make more of a challenge for the golfer.
“All these changes will help to make Fairhaven known as one of the top courses in the country providing a true test of golf.”
Some of the stars of the future have already played at Fairhaven, including Lauren Taylor (BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year 2011) Tom Lewis (the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year 2011), Rhys Pugh (Great Britain and Ireland’s most successful player in the 2011 Walker Cup and winner of the 2010 Fairhaven Trophy), and Lydia Ko (she represented New Zealand in the 2011 Astor Trophy, and recently became the youngest-ever winner of a professional golf tour event at the age of 14).
With Fairhaven such a centre of golfing attention, early starts will be the order of the day for Morris and co.
Shifts will start at 6am – or even earlier – to give staff time to set up the Junior Open course for that day’s play.
Morris said: “We will be mowing greens by hand, changing holes and raking bunkers every morning before play commences to ensure the quality of the course is at its best.”