Tuesday, September 03, 2013


Ayrshire-born Stuart Hogg can be proud of the difference he has made to the St Annes Old Links during his nine years as course manager at the golf club which is at the north end of Lytham St Annes (Royal Lytham and St Annes plus Fairhaven are at the south end).
To pinpoint it more accurately on the map of Lancashire, St Annes Old Links is just south of Blackpool with good views of the Blackpool Tower and the Blackpool Roller-Coaster, as well as Blackpool Airport which has its runway next to the boundary of the links.
I was there last month with the Ladies Golf Union for the Girls' Home International Matches - and not only were the links looking good from a spectator's point of view, all the young players told me the condition of the course was excellent.
I had never seen the St Annes Old Links before so I have to take Stuart's word for it that he has made a lot of changes, all of which 
have been for the better.
Stuart went to the Lancashire post from Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Club where he had become course manager in 2001 after joining the staff in 1992.
He had started out on his career in greenkeeping at West Kilbride Golf Club in September 1988, and Stuart admits that he didn't know a thing then about his chosen profession.
"I had always been an outdoor person and played in goal for Kilmarnock Under-15s ... spent a summer on trial as a youngster at Dundee Football Club but the manager at that time wanted his goalkeepers to be at least 6ft tall, and there was I 16 years old and only 5ft 9in," recalls Stuart.
He soon built up a knowledge of greenkeeping through the college day release system.
"George Patterson, now the Moray Golf Club course manager, was at West Kilbride then and he taught me an awful lot about the job," said Stuart.
When the 1999 Walker Cup was played at Nairn Golf Club, Stuart's help was listed by Nairn's now retired course manager, Ian Carson.
"Ian was another man from whom I learned a lot. How he coped with the flooding of the course in the middle of the Walker Cup, was an eye-opener to me," said Stuart.
Although very happy with his lot at St Annes Old Link, Stuart, who will be 42 next month, has an ambition to be course manager of an Open championship venue.
There are three in Lancashire - Royal Lytham, Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) and Royal Birkdale, so Stuart might not have to travel far when the opportunity arises. 

 A view of the St Annes Old Links clubhouse from the course.

Blackpool Tower and the adjoining Blackpool Airsport are clearly visible from the Links, and so too is the huge roller-coaster pictured below

                                ALL IMAGES BY CAL CARSON GOLF AGENCY



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