HEAD GREENKEEPER Darryl Smethurst has been in the swing of things at Saddleworth Golf Club for 25 years.
And to mark the milestone in service, the club made a surprise presentation to the 46-year-old of a glass decanter while his team of five young green staff provided a bottle of whisky to fill it.
Darryl was summoned to the clubhouse to be met by club chairman Neil Bamford, committee members and the rest of the green staff.
Neil praised Darryl for the exceptionally high quality of the course which was due in no small part to him and his team.
Darryl, who came from Diggle but now lives in Stockport, began his green-fingered career as a council gardener in Uppermill.
That was followed by a three-year stint as an assistant greenkeeper at Oldham Golf Club before he was appointed to the post at Saddleworth Golf Club.
He admitted that in the last 25 years his job has changed enormously in most facets.
Darryl explained: “The big difference today is that golfers want to play 12 months a year whereas that didn’t used to be the case as they did other things in winter. And the challenge is to be able to make the course playable all year.
“It helps that today we have top-notch machinery and all our young staff are sent to college to study so their knowledge is a lot better than it used to be.”
Darryl added that there are particular challenges to Saddleworth given it is a moorland course and the growing season is shorter than at a low-lying Manchester club.
He also pointed out that most winters there are construction jobs to do and these have included remodelling and lengthening one particular hole.