Alton Golf Club greenkeeper Darren Miller has hailed his “once-in-a-lifetime experience” after raking the bunkers at the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake.
He was representing the British and International Golf Greenkeepers’ Association (BIGGA) – who have a tradition of providing bunker rakers at The Open.
Miller was on raking duty on the first, second and fourth days at Royal Liverpool.
Miller raked for Norwegian golfer Viktor Hovland and Americans Tony Finau and Justin Thomas last Thursday (July 20), Scottish golfer Marc Warren and Spaniards Nacho Elvira and Alejandro Canizares last Friday (July 21) and American Rickie Fowler and Australian Min Woo Lee on Sunday.
“It was an amazing experience,” said Miller. “I applied to be a BIGGA bunker raker last year and didn’t get in, but I applied again this year and got in this time.
“I headed up there last Wednesday. There were 52 greenkeepers for the week and we were all treated incredibly well.
“We were all raking on Thursday and Friday, and then after the cut we either raked on Saturday or Sunday.
“I had the day off on Saturday and watched the golf, and was then raking again on Sunday.
“The crowds were amazing and were very loud – there was an incredible atmosphere. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“The conditions were good for the golfers for the first two days, but on Sunday there was rain and wind which made it very tough.
“There were not many players who shot an under par round on Sunday.”
There was some criticism that the bunkers at this year’s Open were too penal, and Miller felt they were a tough challenge.
“Royal Liverpool is a beast of a golf course,” he said. “The bunkers are situated in some very good positions and it was a tough challenge for the golfers.”
American golfer Brian Harman won The Open with a score of 13 under par.