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Legends of the Links

As the only Tour event to be hosted every year at the home of golf, the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship uniquely celebrates three of Scotland’s finest Links courses: The Old Course, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie.

Staging a world-class tournament across this trio of illustrious venues is only possible because of the commitment of a dedicated team of club officials, greenkeepers, caddies, marshalls, scorers and others.

Here, we’d like to introduce you to a handful of the people whose efforts – both behind-the-scenes and more visibly – enable this much-loved Championship to maintain its reputation as one of the most prestigious events on the sporting calendar.

Green light for Harry at The Old Course

With a love of golf from the age of seven and experience as a greenkeeper for his hometown golf club in Nottingham, it seemed a no brainer that Harry Kerr would apply to St Andrews University to study after his A levels.

Green light for Harry at The Old Course

The 3rd year physics student and scratch golfer applied to become a greenkeeper at the Old Course during The Open last year and now works most weekdays from 6am until before his first lectures start.

“It’s a big change from the team of seven greenkeepers at Sherwood Forest Golf Club to being a part of 20, and that’s just for the Old Course,” said Harry.

“People don’t realise what goes into greenkeeping on such an important golf course. It’s easy to forget there are months of preparation. Whatever the weather and conditions, we set the golf course up in the best condition possible, providing the players with the best opportunity for showcasing their ability. Every golfer wants to play on good, pure greens and a nice tightly mown golf course - it’s our aim to provide the players that opportunity. Come the tournament days and we get to see what the pros can really do, which is always fun.”

This will be Harry’s second year working on the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. “It was amazing to work on the greens for the Dunhill last year. Being a televised event, it was intense but really, really cool. The fact that I get to work and be a part of such a special golf course, working with a great group of guys as well contributes greatly to the love for my job.

“The Dunhill is an amazing tournament, you get to see some really quality golf from the pros and amateurs. The energy that the tournament brings to the town is incredible as well, there’s a great buzz about the place.

“The history of the old course speaks for itself, it’s stood the test of time as it’s still so relevant to the game of golf today. I think it’s easy to take the Old Course for granted, I work on it every day and get to play it regularly too. But seeing how much it means to visitors whether they’re playing or just having a walk around it shows how much it means to people and how special the place is.

“The nature of it being a pro-am makes the tournament so much more fun and more relaxed than your typical tour event. It’s obviously a hugely prestigious competition, you’re playing at three fantastic golf courses and with it being a 54 hole cut you get to see so much more golf than you’d normally expect to. The town always has an amazing buzz about it, it’s common to walk into a pub look around and see celebrities and professionals alike interacting with the locals and having a great time.”

Harry is enjoying his greenkeeping role so much he is planning to stay on after his degree is finished in 2025 and work full time to fulfill his dream of working on the next Open at the home of golf.

Carnoustie duo keeps greens in top shape

Kevin Stott, Carnoustie Links Superintendent, and Duncan Cairnie, Carnoustie Championship Course Manager are two of Carnoustie’s senior managers who have worked in various roles behind the scenes to ensure that the Links at Carnoustie are in top condition for all 22 Alfred Dunhill Links Championships.

Both Kevin and Duncan began their careers long before the inaugural Championship was first conceived as a unique format tournament to celebrate Links golf at its finest.

Carnoustie duo keeps greens in top shape

Duncan started his career at Carnoustie as an apprentice and Kevin has worked his way up through the ranks from greenkeeper to Links Superintendent, learning from some of the best in the business and adapting to meet the demands from golfers.

“The expectation of golfers is always rising which keeps the team striving to improve,” said Kevin.

Duncan agrees but admits these days for him “there is a little less raking bunkers and more management of the course and the team.”

As you would expect, their jobs are the most interesting preparing for, and during, a big tournament and the Alfred Dunhill Links is no exception.

“Working in and around tournaments is a great time to be in the job with the buzz of the event,” said Duncan. “The Dunhill comes at a time when there is slightly less pressure on the course in the heat of the summer. The tournament itself feels like a more relaxed affair and gives us a chance to work in amongst the players and celebrities having fun on the course.

“Carnoustie has been an amazing place to work through the years and has given me lots of opportunities in my career. The Dunhill is always a great event to have at this time of year for something to look forward to before going into the winter period. I look forward to working at many more Championships in the future.”

Kevin added: “It’s a privilege to work at a venue such as Carnoustie, to provide a golf course for the top players in the game is a real honour. The Dunhill is special as it’s a great window to show off Links golf at three great venues and end the summer season on a high.”

The Links Superintendent says one of his highlights in his more than two decades of dedication to Carnoustie was meeting the (late) great Shane Warne.

Ailsa’s the master of caddies at Carnoustie

Taking over the reins from her father in 2015, Caddie Master Ailsa Roy is succeeding in her aim to continue his legacy and provide the best caddies at the renowned Carnoustie Golf Links.

Assisting her father for a further 10 years before that, Ailsa has worked on every Alfred Dunhill Links since it started in 2021. She finds it challenging but rewarding.

“The Caddie Master’s job involves organising and pairing up caddies daily. Lots of work goes on behind the scenes organising each day, it’s like a jigsaw puzzle. Organised chaos that always works out in the end,” she said.

“I love meeting new people from all over the world. No day is the same. Carnoustie Golf Links is like my second family and most of my caddies have been around my whole life.”

Ailsa’s the master of caddies at Carnoustie

The Alfred Dunhill Links is always a special week for Ailsa and her team of caddies. “It’s great for the locals to have a chance to see the best golfers and stars that they may never get a chance to meet any other time.”

Ailsa cannot speak highly enough of Carnoustie, infamous for being the most challenging of the three courses used during the Alfred Dunhill Links. “It’s just special, it’s home and we are so lucky to have the most amazing golf course on our doorstep.”

Only 5% of the nearly 200 caddies at Carnoustie are women although Ailsa believes this is more than any of the surrounding golf courses.

“I think that golf has always been a male dominated sport however it’s great to see the golf industry evolving the way it is and it’s becoming much more inclusive. Similarly with caddying, we are seeing more female caddies, and we are lucky to have a great group of female caddies here at Carnoustie."

"We encourage female caddies by giving them the same opportunity as the men, giving each of them the confidence to show their own abilities. We have women of all ages who caddie. They are all experienced golfers and are very capable of giving 100%. Watching them hold their own is great. Each of them fits in our team brilliantly."

“Being a caddie is such a great job as it gives people confidence, you get to meet people from all walks of life who often become lifelong friends and you learn something new every day. Being out in the fresh air being paid for a job you love doing is the best thing.”