Making the Open run smoothly

Posted on July 8, 2016

It’s one of world’s biggest sporting events and a Big County business is being trusted to help tee-up another memorable staging of The Open.

The 2016 event takes place at Royal Troon from July 14-17 and Kilmac is playing a key role in the build-up to golf’s oldest Championship.

The Perth construction specialists teamed-up with The R&A for the first time at St Andrews last summer, when play was extended to an extra day due to bad weather before American Zach Johnson lifted the iconic Claret Jug trophy.

The tidy-up and “de-rig” operation in Fife was completed in September but Perth-based Kilmac have had a presence on-site in Ayrshire since the turn of the year, laying the groundwork for The 145th Open.

Steve Harrier, a former golf professional with ties to Glenbervie, Murrayshall and Craigie Hill, leads the project assisted by consultant Kenny MacKinnon, a past captain of Craigie Hill Golf Club.

“We are charged by The R&A to liaise with the wide range of contractors responsible for ensuring The Open passes off as smoothly as possible for the world’s best golfers, 180,000 spectators and also for the surrounding community.

“Given the vast scale of the operation you can’t just have contractors turning up on a Monday morning and keeping your fingers crossed,” said Harrier.

The Kilmac team are working hand-in-glove with various agencies including South Ayrshire Council, the emergency services and major contractors tasked with installing everything from grandstands, hospitality outlets and portable toilets to drainage, power and WiFi.

“The infrastructure takes months to install and weeks to dismantle and we have responsibility for co-ordinating the entire operation and keeping on top of the programme to ensure it runs smoothly.

“We are the facilitators linking our client, The R&A, and the contractors - and the role has grown over the past 12 months. We have built on our experience of St Andrews and the feedback has been very positive.

“There are around 500 people on-site right now but during the Championship that leaps to around the 6,000 mark – more than the population of Scone.

“Health and safety has to be of paramount importance and the various contractors have been showing patience and respect and a spirit of co-operation with a view to delivering another memorable Open.”

The 20-strong Kilmac team handling groundworks, laying tracks and turf, re-seeding, rolling out 16,000 metres of fencing and erecting 8000 crowd control barriers will be supplemented by back-up staff in the countdown to The Open.

“Some of the numbers being bandied about are incredible. Carpet and flooring covers an area of eight football pitches and there will be nearly 200 buggies to be allocated and fuelled on site.”

Last year at St Andrews up to 40 Kilmac workers were drafted in over a 72-hour period when a challenging mop-up operation began in the wake of a Friday night storm.

“It was a case of all-hands-on-deck. The R&A did an incredible job to ensure the Championship could finish on the Monday.

“Once again we will have a rapid response unit on stand-by but hopefully the weather is kinder to us this year.

“The de-rig process begins as soon as the Claret Jug is presented, along with re-instating areas of the Royal Troon course and the adjacent Portland course. And already thoughts will be turning to Royal Birkdale next year and the Championships to come in the future.

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