Ian Prendergast on the Irish Open Range in Fota
By Niall O’Shea
It’s all hands on deck this week in Fota, and all of the golf staff have new roles on the course supporting the event. PGA professional Ian Prendergast normally runs lessons and camps from the Academy in Fota but this week the academy has turned into the busiest range in Europe and Ian’s in charge. With a team of 14, Ian has to ensure that all 156 professionals are looked after whether it’s warming up before the round, or practising afterwards.
Ian explained that his team have for the week; “All the balls are washed before we leave at night. The green keepers are in to cut the tee’s before 6am, the tee’s have to be the same height as the fairways which is 12mm. Our job starts at 6am, we make sure the area is tidy and get the balls out and ready for the players. On Monday and Tuesday we opened at 7am but tomorrow we’ll be open and ready from 6am. We put about 40 balls into each of the buckets and it’s important that we have enough ready and waiting at all times. Once the players start hitting balls, we have two people out on machines collecting balls and at least three staff back at the range washing and get the balls into buckets ready for the next players. We also look after the short game area so there’s another person over there ensuring they have enough balls and that the greens are tidy. We’re open until 8pm each evening so we have a few shits in operation.”
The range balls are provided by Titliest and in they provide over 5,000 tour grade ProV 1x balls. At the end of play on Sunday the balls will be taken back by the European Tour and they are then distributed to several junior golf organisations through the GUI and ILGU. As well as the players, Ian’s team look after the caddies while they’re on the range; “We need to make sure that the fridges are kept full and that there’s plenty of water and drinks for the players and the caddies”
Most of Ian’s team are members of Fota and they’re all from the local area, which helps given the early morning starts. Most of the players seem to be impressed with the facility and a lot of them have passed some nice comments, something that Ian and his team can be proud of; “several of the players have said they’re impressed with the set up in the Academy and that’s always a good sign. Some of them have stopped to have a chat with up and it’s great to have the opportunity to talk to the tour players.”