The grass was always greener for golf goalie Lachie


There is no doubt that the grass runs through Lachie McGill’s veins.

He just hung up his rake after 51 years as a greenkeeper.

Most of this was as the head of the greens staff at the Cochrane Castle Golf Club in Johnstone.

And the day after the club put him at the center of the draw in a special presentation, Lachie said, “It might not have been the highest paid job in the world, but for me, it was the best job in the world.

“What a career I had, in the great outdoors everyday with the birds and the bees.”

There isn’t an inch of park fairways, greens and tees in Cochrane that the 66-year-old doesn’t know.

He was a third generation environmentalist, and as a schoolboy at Renfrew High he remembers the guidance counselor’s mockery when he said he was heading for the golf course.

It’s over now Lachie is flanked by his colleagues Andrew McGarry and Douglas Stewart

Lachie said: “I always knew what would become of me. . . the career guy said he doubts there’s a future in there. I doubt he held the same position for 51 years.

“At one point, we had 17 extended family members in the green space maintenance.

“I actually remember when I was about five years old my grandfather Lachie Millar used a horse to shoot grasscutters at Erskine Golf Club.

“You started at the first fairway and by the time you got to the 18th seven days later it was time to start over.

“With a lightweight fairway mower, I was able to cut all the fairways in Cochrane Castle in seven hours. “

He apprenticed at Erskine – where his father Rab was also a greenkeeper – before being poached at the age of 22 by Cochrane Castle in 1978, just months before the Allied Army marched on it. Argentina.

His first salary was £ 6 a week while his friends were paid three times that of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders.

The father-of-two, who lives in Bishopton, received a presentation from the club’s senior staff on Thursday as his continued worry about the condition of the course wilted forever.

Lachie said: “What struck me on the last day was that in 1978 there were areas on the course that had no trees at all.

“Now we have coniferous forests and it’s a lot more about ecology, wildflowers and creating habitats for birds and insects.

“The modern greenkeeper must be a botanist, there is so much fertilizer, for example.

“And you have to keep up to date with what has been banned, as are now a lot of things that we used to put on the grass.”

New Pastures Honorary President Willie Mitchell thanks Lachie for his efforts for more than four decades
New Pastures Honorary President Willie Mitchell thanks Lachie for his efforts for more than four decades

Greening has now turned to agronomy, instead of the basic mowing and seeding of yesteryear.

And of course, making those greens as smooth as they are real to satisfy over 350 members.

Lachie revealed, “The equipment we have now is amazing in comparison.

“Which is probably as good as golfers now want to play 12 months a year, helped by milder, wetter winters there was so much more snow and frost.

“In the old days there was no early retirement, people lived shorter and during the week you barely saw a golfer on the course.

“You may actually have a hard time getting the space to do the job, while still trying to keep everyone happy. “

Fortunately, technology has helped the modern greenkeeper stay one step ahead of their members.

As a former scratch golfer and champion at his club Renfrew, Lachie hopes to return to the fairways as a player.

He also has a green-fingered hobby – what else – of making hanging baskets.

His wife Jeanette has retired as Business Studies Manager at Greenock Academy and they have daughters Fiona and Laura and grandchildren Sophie, 7, and Cooper, three.

He added: “I would highly recommend young people to get involved in greenkeeping, especially if they enjoy golf.

“It has been a great professional life and I was overwhelmed by my departure from the club.”

Andy McGarry, formerly of the closed Eastwood Golf Club, is the new chief greenkeeper responsible for two full-time employees and one part-time employee.

Club captain Alister Miller paid tribute to Lachie by saying, “Obviously Cochrane Castle is in his blood and I’m sure he will still be thinking of the turf, sand and coring until his death. retirement.

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