David calls it a day - after 44 years!

David Wilson
David Wilson

​After a career spanning 44 years as a greenkeeper on the St Andrews links - 37 of which were continuous - David Wilson has retired.

And, as he recalled to the Citizen, when he first started at the Home of Golf in 1968 things were very different from what they are today on the world-famous links courses.

When Mr Wilson joined the staff he made up a team of only 16 greenkeepers who looked after the then four golf courses in the town.

His job that very first summer was cutting tees - right through from May until the end of the season.

Along with one other greenkeeper, they began on the first tee of the Old Course and when they finished they moved on to another course. Over the following days and weeks they started back where they had finished off and so on until the tees on all four courses were completed.

And, like the painting of the Forth Rail Bridge, they began again back on the first tee of the Old Course to repeat the process all summer long!

Mr Wilson was one of the first greenkeepers in the United Kingdom to gain a recognised qualification in greenkeeping which he obtained at Elmwood College, Cupar, after it launched a study and practical course with the assistance of the then links supervisor at St Andrews, J.K.Campbell.

During his time on the St Andrews links, Mr Wilson worked on all the courses.

He was a foreman on the Eden Course for a spell, but the longest period of time he spent on any one course was as head greenkeeper on the Jubilee.

This stint included the major alterations to the course in the mid 1980s and he remained there until 2007.

He was also head greenkeeper on the New Course and, latterly, was the course manager on the Strathtyrum and Balgove courses.

It is reckoned that Mr Wilson was probably involved in the Open Championship more than any other greenkeeper on the links over his long career, during which time he built up a reputation as a dedicated and hard-working member of the links’ team.