The R&A - Working for Golf

Greenkeepers at the ready as Royal Birkdale prepares to host The Open

  • Royal Birkdale in fantastic condition thanks to team of greenkeepers
  • Team led by Chris Whittle, who is managing the course at Royal Birkdale for final time in The Open
  • Team are members of British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA)

Course Manager Chris Whittle
Course Manager Chris Whittle

The Open has returned to Royal Birkdale for the tenth time in the club’s history this week and it will be presented in magnificent condition for the world’s greatest golfers thanks to a talented and highly-trained team of greenkeepers.

The team are led by Course Manager Chris Whittle and are counted among the almost 6,000 members of the British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA).

This year’s Championship will be Whittle’s final Open and the 63-year-old is aiming to go out on a high: “I can’t deny that expectations are higher than ever. But preparations have been smooth so far, and we’re confident of presenting the course in a better condition than ever before. Let’s just hope we get the weather to allow us to show off everything Royal Birkdale has to offer.”

This will be Whittle’s fifth Open, having prepared the course for the event twice before, in 1998 and 2008, and also at Muirfield in 1992. His first Open experience was as Deputy Course Manager for The Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 1974.

Supporting the home team during The Open itself will be a team of over 50 BIGGA members, drawn from clubs all over the UK and further afield, who have volunteered their time freely and will be on hand to assist with duties such as bunker raking.

Additionally, BIGGA members across the country have worked hard to prepare their courses for Regional and Final Qualifying competitions in the build up to this week’s main event.

The BIGGA Volunteer Support Team is invaluable to us,” said Whittle. “With their help I can be confident that everything out on the course is under control, allowing the home team to undertake all the duties that come with hosting a major championship.”

Each year The R&A requests the assistance of BIGGA members with hosting the championship, meaning BIGGA members have witnessed some of the greatest moments in golf first hand.