SEALING a place in Paul McGinley’s squad for the 2014 Ryder Cup will be edging increasingly closer to the forefront of many golfing minds across Europe.
But for Rob Sandilands, the Head Greenkeeper at Grange-over-Sands Golf Club, the dye is to be cast much sooner with certain other selection processes for Gleneagles already well underway.
While competition is fierce, the 33-year-old is currently under active consideration for a place among the support staff at September’s showpiece event.
But Sandilands is no wildcard, with considerable major tournament experience under his belt having previously fulfilled greenkeeping duties at The Open Championship and Scottish Open – events which feature prominently on his CV.
With his fate set to be determined in the next month, the potential magnitude of working at such a prestigious event as the Ryder Cup is certainly not lost on him.
“Some of the experiences you get working at The Open Championship are money can’t buy experiences, fans of golf would probably pay an arm and a leg for it,” he said.
“You are inside the ropes working in touching distances of some of the best players in the world, it’s brilliant.”
“The Ryder Cup would be the same players but the fame of that sporting event is up there in the top two or three sporting events in the world, not just golf.
“It is probably the pinnacle as far as golf goes so to be involved in that would be fantastic and certainly a career highlight. And Gleneagles is a great place with a very special atmosphere.
“A list is currently being compiled by the host club which will encompass staff they know but also some of those who have major tournament experience and I’m hoping to feature within that section.”
Sandilands started working at Hawkstone Park Golf Course in Shropshire back in 1999 as his degree studies at the University of Wales in Bangor were coming to an end.
He has since completed all the necessary work-based studies and acquired the necessary qualifications to assume a management level position.
This culminated in Sandilands making a move to Grange-over-Sands Golf Club from Lincolnshire three years ago, taking up his first course manager position.
And during his career he has played his part at the 2009 and 2012 Open Championships at Turnberry and Royal Lytham & St. Annes respectively, in addition to the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart.
A rise through the ranks has not only resulted in additional responsibility and reward with such major tournament experience, but has also armed Sandilands with the odd tale to tell.
“At these events you form a support team and do whatever that host course wants you to do to help out in the mornings and evenings,” he added.
“But during the day each person is assigned to a specific group of players to look after bunkers and take care of anything found on the course
“So you are on the inside of the ropes with a specific group of players and on day two in 2009 I was picked out with Tiger Woods.
“He has a huge entourage with the whole golf course virtually gravitating around him – it was a bit of a melee and circus but great experience.
“I had a lot more to do at Lytham because of the weather that year but I drew Bubba Watson there with all his paraphernalia and swagger.
“But the main thing is the camaraderie and the very nature of going to some of the best courses in the world which are in peak condition.
“Being so close to some of the world’s best golfers, something which people would pay millions of pounds for, is priceless for me.”
Another highlight of Sandilands career was selection for the annual British and International Golf Greenkeepers’ Association delegation to the USA, in a sense allowing a view at how the other half live.
But whatever the event, the Endmoor resident will transfer his knowledge base to his current golfing home, with Sandilands keen to showcase the progress being made at Grange-over-Sands.
“The feedback we’re getting from people who haven’t been to the club for a few years is they’re impressed – some have said it is almost unrecognisable,” he said.
“We have done huge renovation works on the greens with no need for temporary greens any longer. We’re doing a lot and moving the whole place forward.
“I would encourage anyone who has not been here for a while to come down as I think they would be pleasantly surprised.”