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Sawgrass Calls For Carrigaline’s Newenham

TPC Sawgrass Calls For Carrigaline’s Newenham

Writes Ciaran Dineen

This March will mark a very special moment in the life of Douglas Golf Club greenkeeper, Alex Newenham from Carrigaline, who has been chosen to represent ‘John Deere’ at their annual TPC Sawgrass volunteer programme in America. The programme sees greenkeepers from Britain and Ireland travel to one of the biggest tournaments in the golfing calendar, The Players Championship, held at the famous TPC Sawgrass, where they will join up with other volunteering greenkeepers to help get the course into shape.

Usually the competition takes place in May, but for the first time in many years it will now occur two months earlier in mid-March. It comes at a perfect time for Alex, who will now represent Douglas GC as Ireland’s only chosen greenkeeper out of all seven representatives. Every year, John Deere sponsors the programme in partnership with the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of Ireland (GCSAI). The opportunity for Alex to put himself forward for selection in previous years did not come about for various reasons, but this year he decided it was a good idea to give it a go. Following the submission of a 750-word essay to the governing body, potential greenkeeping candidates were whittled down in numbers, culminating in an interview stage process. It was here where Alex was able to make a substantial case for why he should be chosen to go. “In the interview, I suppose they were kind of looking for someone who could act as an ambassador”, Alex says. “So, someone who could represent the GCSAI well, someone who can represent their club well, someone to represent John Deere and then of course someone who is going to represent themselves well,” he continues.

In two-weeks the Heron’s Wood native will travel to Manchester, where he will meet up with his British counterparts and from there they make the journey to Florida. In the first few days of his time in TPC Sawgrass Alex will be integrated into the regular team at the golf course, where he will learn the standards and practices that he will need to adopt. Although he is as of yet unsure of his role on the golf course, it is likely to be either raking bunkers, cutting fairways or adjusting tees, whatever it is, it will have to be done to perfection. The 14 years that he has spent at Douglas Golf Club should hold him in good stead for the challenge to come and Alex is really looking forward to the weeks ahead. “I’m really looking forward to the chance of being able to open my eyes to different ways of doing things, different ways of doing the same things and also the dynamics of working with people from different countries and seeing how they do things. I’m also looking forward to asking questions, sharing experiences and frustrations as a greenkeeper and then seeking the opportunities that I can get in launching the next stage of my career,” Alex tells The Carrigdhoun.

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