Muirfield to The Machrie: Why golf course manager Dean Muir has no regrets about move to Islay

Dean Muir left Muirfield to start a new chapter in his career at The Machrie but he has never regretted the move to Islay.

By Martin Dempster
Tuesday, 4th January 2022, 10:13 pm
Dean Muir at The Machrie, where he moved as course manager but has now become the head of golf
Dean Muir at The Machrie, where he moved as course manager but has now become the head of golf

In fact, the Dunbar man has broadened his knowledge by switching from course manager to head of golf at the resort now firmly on the golfing map.

Muir worked at Muirfield for 17 years, the last nine of which was as deputy course manager, and helped prepare the East Lothian venue for two Opens.

He was lured to Machrie after DJ Russell was engaged by new owners to make changes to the course, with Muir being tasked with its upkeep and conditioning.

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That’s still one of his main priorities but, as head of golf, he’s also now in charge of a wider range of matters.

“I’m responsible for the whole golf department and, under me, we have 10 greenkeepers and a head pro and an assistant,” Muir told Edinburgh Evening News.

“Through some interns we are currently looking for, we are looking to increase the number of greenkeepers to 14 next summer and four within the golf department at any one time.

“When I first came over, I was the course manager just looking after the course and that has evolved into my current role.

“I’d probably say that 85-90 per cent of my time is still spent on the course, but I oversee everything else on the golf side.

“David Foley, who came here from Ireland, is a very experienced professional and brilliant at his job, so that makes it easy for me as I go about my business.

“It’s been great and a great learning curve as I develop my skill sets from greenkeeping to everything else that is involved. Doing that has helped me, no doubt.”

Muir, who once shot a course-record 62 at Dunbar, lived in Bonnyrigg before moving to Islay.

“I have been here for nearly seven-and-a-half years…time flies,” he said, laughing. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here so far. I first came over to do a few tweaks with the courses with DJ Russell and it kind of grew arms and legs from there.

“The feedback we’ve had about the course, the test it provides and the conditioning, has been phenomenal.

“This year we’ve really benefited in a way from Covid with the staycation market and Islay being seen as remote and safe. As a result of that, we’ve had great numbers in both the hotel and also playing golf.

“This year we’ll be somewhere between 8,500-9,000 rounds. In 2019, I think we were well under 5,000.

“We’ve put together some attractive packages that are brilliant value and folk have obviously taken advantage of that.”

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