Paul Hay, Head Greenkeeper, Craigielaw Golf Club

Paul Hay’s heart sank as Kirsty Gallagher, daughter of Ryder Cup captain, Bernard Gallagher walked across the 18th green of Gullane No.1. Alongside then First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, Kirsty was on her way to present the 2015 Scottish Open trophy to Rickie Fowler.

Paul was Head Greenkeeper of Gullane No.1 at the time. Having hosted a fantastic event, with a great winner, it should have been a proud moment. However, Kirsty’s high heels were of far greater concern than the adulation of greenkeepers worldwide. High-heel coring in July is not something the members would want.

Greenkeeping is in the family

Almost ten years on, Paul smiles and happily tells the tale. Paul is born and bred Gullane, with over 26 years as a greenkeeper at his home club. His last roles were as Head of No.1 and Deputy Course Manager. He knows Scotland’s Golf Coast better than most. His cousin was also a greenkeeper at Gullane, and his son, after stints at Luffness and Longniddry, is a fully qualified greenkeeper at The Renaissance.

It was in January 2022 that Paul took the plunge and became Head Greenkeeper at Craigielaw. It was too good an opportunity to miss. In East Lothian terms, Craigielaw is a new kid on the block, opening in 2001. The Donald Steel design has matured well, and thanks to Mother Nature and ongoing improvements, is well and truly a respected Championship course.

Green-keepers at Craigielaw

Continued development at Craigielaw

Paul’s remit is to push the course to the next level and refine the experience. Craigielaw hosted the Scottish Senior Opens in 2018 and 2019, but there is no resting on any laurels. There are various exciting upcoming projects, and the consistent goal is to create a well-conditioned, fun, challenging and playable links golf course.

With a 30-bedroom Lodge and a strong membership, the aim for the course is to be enjoyed by everyone.

Craigielaw Scotland's Golf Coast Revamping number 12

Recent work has included remodelling the approach on hole 11 with the removal of a water hazard/drainage and installing new bunkering, the revamping of the green complex on number 12, where one big bunker has become three smaller ones opening the approach to this tricky green. There are also enhancements underway on the course grasses as fescue is introduced to make the greens more robust and sustainable.

Craigielaw Scotland's Golf Coast

A true ambassador for Scotland’s Golf Coast

Paul classes himself as a ‘high handicap’ golfer, but enthuses about Craigielaw, particularly holes 4 and 6, where the stone walls add a unique character. In fact, it’s at number 6, ‘Kilspindie’, where Paul enjoys watching the sun come up over Aberlady Bay, and Gullane Hill. A quintessential Scotland’s Golf Coast view.

Craigielaw Scotland's Golf Coast

Kilspindie and Dunbar

When not at Craigielaw, Kilspindie and Dunbar are his favourites on the coast, but says it’s slightly unfair to ask, as they are all fantastic. Spoken like a true ambassador for the coast!

Heading into golf season on the coast

As we head into Spring, and then Summer, Paul is delighted that temperatures are increasing. It’s an earlier start, but with such early light from April to October, it’s important to take advantage of the conditions.

Scotland’s number 1 golf destination

An East Lothian boy, Paul is proud to have played his part in two Scottish Opens, and four Scotland’s Golf Coast courses (Gullane No.1, 2, 3 and now Craigielaw). Paul gets as much pleasure seeing an 8- and 80-year-old play on Craigielaw’s 6-hole par 3 South Links course, as he does watching Michael Jordan tee it up on Gullane No.1. Just another day at Scotland’s number one golf destination.