Preparations underway for The Open

11 June 2018 Feature Article

Craig Boath and Sandy Reid

For Sandy Reid and Craig Boath, the 147th Open is going to be a landmark event.

The pair have worked at Carnoustie Golf Links almost their entire careers, but this year’s Open Championship will be the first that they’ve been in charge of the famous links.

We sat down with the pair to discuss how preparations are going, and how proud they are to be shining a light for sustainable greenkeeping as the first reigning Environmental Golf Course of the Year to host The Open.

Out on the course, preparations for The Open have seen the conclusion of a renovation programme of all 112 of the Championship Course’s bunkers, including 80 completed this past winter. Over 12km of fibre optic cables have been laid to enable Wi‑Fi provision all over the course, and 12 cameras have been fitted into bunker faces. 

Spectator mounds have been constructed to increase viewing opportunities for visitors, while gorse has been removed to enable spectator routing and three fairways have been raised to allow bunkers to be lifted further above the water table. 

Preparations are well underway for The Open at Carnousite

“Hosting The Open has always been a major undertaking,” said Championship Course Head Greenkeeper Craig Boath. “But like everything, it’s increased in size and scale. From 2007, I’d say the contractors’ and television compounds are about three times the size as they were.”

The most recent time The Open was hosted at Carnoustie was 2007, when Sandy Reid was head greenkeeper on the Championship Course and Craig was his deputy. 

At that time there was a deputy links superintendent, working underneath Links Superintendent John Philp. Paul O’Connor was the deputy, and the abolishing of this role means more responsibility has fallen upon Craig as head greenkeeper. 

“Craig has more input than I did in 2007,” explained Sandy. “I was more like a foreman, with many of the course management decisions being made above me. Craig has much more autonomy.

“I view my role as trying to make Craig’s job as easy as I can. We’ve had contractors on site for the past year and I don’t want Craig to have to worry about contractors driving on his turf. He’ll speak to me, but he’s running the course on a daily basis.

“The difference between the superintendent role and the role of a head greenkeeper is that as a head greenkeeper you have a plan of work for the week, month and year and you have your resources such as staff and machinery to get the work done. There’s a physical sense of achievement and satisfaction there, whereas I think in this role it’s much more intangible and so it’s difficult to get that same sense of achievement.

“I do miss being out on the different machines and the thinking time it gives you. Your best ideas never come when you’re sat at a desk, it’s when you’re out doing something else. You’re at your most creative when you’re not meaning to be, and when you’re trying to think, you never do.”

Check out July's Greenkeeper International for the full interview, available to download now in original and dyslexia-friendly form.

The R&A has once again requested the support of BIGGA members, and a volunteer support team will be on hand throughout The Open to assist with bunker raking and be available to assist with course maintenance as required.

For more information email


Karl Hansell
Karl Hansell
BIGGA | Communications Manager


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