RICHARD Stephens is looking forward to his new role as course manager at Ringway Golf Club.
He follows the distinguished path of Jim Grainger who recently retired after 17 years at the Cheshire club.
Richard got the ‘turf bug’ at the age of 12 when he started helping with the ground work at Wavertree Cricket Club in Liverpool, where he was a junior member. He decided then that he wanted to do ‘sports turf’ professionally whilst working with the ground staff at Liverpool College public school while doing his A levels.
He was accepted on a three-year HND in Golf Course Management at Reaseheath Agricultural College in September 1996 and during this time he gained experience by working at Woolton, Carden Park and the Reaseheath College golf courses.
After graduation he worked at Lee Park in June 1999 and then made a big move in the following year to go to the then, little known Whistling Straits Wisconsin, via Ohio State University. Later in the year he moved to South Carolina to work at Harbour Town and after completing the Ohio State programme he moved back to England in 2001 to do a second stint at Carden Park.
His next move was to be first assistant at Frodsham and then to Flixton in 2005 as head greenkeeper. Richard said: “I had 10 fantastic years at Flixton working with some great people and learning all the practical aspects of course management.
“During my time there I led the design and construction of 30 bunkers, six tees and more than 1,000m of drainage and started eight apprentices on their level two and level three who have gone on to complete their courses and have careers in sport turf.
“My other work has included developments at Henlle Park, Fiddlers Ferry and Mersey Valley.
“Now at Ringway it is a dream come true having achieved my goal since I started golf and I am really looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead.
“All at the club have been very welcoming and the high level of experience of the staff has made the transition so far easy.
“I still have a lot to learn about the site but this will only come with time and in the short term I intend to build on the excellent foundation laid down by Jim Grainger on this great Colt-designed course.
“In the long term we aim to meet the changing needs of the golf industry dealing with legislative and customer needs.
“We intend to accomplish this by both modernising our maintenance equipment and methods and improving the flexibility and standard of the overall golf facility.”