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The Home of Golf

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A Greenkeeper Forever – Tributes Paid to Former Links Superintendent

September 20 2019

Walter Woods, the Links Superintendent at the Home of Golf for more than 20 years, has died at the age of 84.

The internationally renowned greenkeeper, who was instrumental in modernising the greenkeeping industry, was best known for his role in leading the greenkeeping team at St Andrews Golf Links for 21 years between 1974 and 1995.

Walter was an integral figure in the formation of BIGGA, the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association, and his efforts to modernise the industry and greenkeeper training have laid the foundation for the profession as it is today.

He was the inaugural chairman of the greenkeeping association and acted as a mentor for many of the industry's leading figures, his impact extending beyond the British Isles to renowned golf courses around the world.

Walter began his career at the nine-hole Tillicoultry Golf Club in his Clackmannanshire hometown. He secured his first role in greenkeeping after trying numerous jobs, including as a grocer and a collier. He then worked at Alloa in the dual role of club professional and greenkeeper, while his wife Caroline ran the clubhouse. Then came a successful stint at Notts Golf Club (Hollinwell), before he moved to St Andrews in 1974. During his time as superintendent at the Home of Golf, Woods oversaw four Open Championships.

Walter retired from his post at the Links in 1995, but continued to be a prominent figure in the greenkeeping industry, maintaining his commitment to education and development as well as continuing to raise recognition and awareness of the skill, expertise and excellence required from modern greenkeeping.

Woods received the British Empire Medal and was presented with the Old Tom Morris Award in 2002 by the US Golf Course Superintendents Association. Previous recipients of the award include Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer and Bob Hope and it is given to people who 'through a continuing lifetime commitment to golf have helped to mould the welfare of the game in a manner and style exemplified by Old Tom Morris'.

Euan Loudon, Chief Executive at St Andrews Links, said: “There are a handful of individuals who have become synonymous with our famous Links through their working lives and Walter was undoubtedly one of those.

“His incredible work ethic and passion for greenkeeping transformed the attitude and approach to golf course management, leadership and professionalism. His influence extended beyond his work here in St Andrews too, his desire to provide pathways and opportunities to aspiring greenkeepers was realised at the Links but through his work with BIGGA he helped it become the industry standard, which is supported at golf tournaments and courses around the world today.

“Our thoughts are with Walter’s family and friends at this sad time.”

Walter is survived by his wife Caroline, children James, Walter and Caroline, and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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