“One of Scotland’s most accomplished greenkeepers” By John Philp MBE
Maureen Hunter recalls: My father was James Logan, head greenkeeper at Muirfield from the early 1950s to 1980. He was known to everyone as ‘Shaig’ and always said that “God was the best Greenkeeper”.
We lived in the Head Greenkeeper’s cottage on Duncur Road which leads up to Muirfield. The cottage was attached to the Honourable Company and came with the job. The first Open I can remember was 1959. There was only one press tent on the golf course, one eatery and parked outside our house just one BBC outside broadcasting van; that was it. I remember going with my friend and my Dad down to the press tent after the Open was finished where there were pens and paper left behind; we thought we were getting the earth.
I also remember the press used to develop their photographs in the dark in the tractor shed.
Some of the Caddies in those days slept out rough; not like the Caddies nowadays who are as posh as the golfers. They used to sleep in the field opposite us under the big tree, against the walls of the Greywalls Hotel and ate at the back of the tractor shed. They didn’t have tents and they didn’t wash, they had nothing. They were filthy and I wasn’t so sure of them but my Mum said ‘they’re, they’re fine, they’re just working’.
Shaig was the son of Gullane Golf Club Head Greenkeeper, William Logan.
He followed in his father’s footsteps by joining the greenkeeping staff at Gullane before The Second World War, in which he served and ultimately became a Japanese prisoner of war. After the war he joined the staff at Muirfield next door and was appointed Head Greenkeeper in 1949.
He subsequently prepared the course for four Open Championships, 1959, 1966, 1972 and 1980; two Amateur Championships 1954 & 1974; two Walker Cups, 1959 & 1979; The Curtis Cup in 1952 and The Ryder Cup in 1973 (the last to be held on a Scottish Links).
During the course of a press interview, just before the 1972 Open Championship, Charles Lawrie, the chairman of the R&A Championship Committee, commented “Logan has been truly superb. This is his fifth Open and he knows the course intimately and exactly how to set it up”. When interviewed before the 1973 Ryder Cup, he commented that the Muirfield course “gave golfers a scrupulously fair test of their abilities”.
In the village he was always known as ‘Shaig’ but at Muirfield, ‘Shay’ or more formally ‘Logan’. Shaig was highly respected by all who played Muirfield as well as his peers in the greenkeeping fraternity and was awarded The B.E.M. in 1973 in recognition of his services to golf. He retired after the 1980 Open Championship.
Course maintenance equipment and staffing levels were very limited compared to modern times, especially in the 1950s and 60s, yet when asked by Keith McKenzie, past secretary of The R&A how soon he could have the course prepared to hold The Amateur at short notice, Shaig’s reply was “would two weeks be too long Sir?”
Shaig is remembered at Dirleton Castle Golf Club where he was captain in 1946-47 and The Shaig Logan Medal, donated by Maureen Hunter in memory of her father who died in 1988, is played for each year.
A charming story is brought to mind about a previous staging of the Open Championship at the home of the Honourable Company. It involved a particularly interesting presentation that was made to Muirfield’s greenkeeper, Shaig Logan during the build-up to the event.
On being handed a stimpmeter, Logan rasped, ”What’s this for?” It was for measuring the speed of the greens, he was informed. Still bemused by such a notion, Logan persisted: ”Why would I want to do that?”
Gently his benefactors pointed out that it would ensure the first green would not be slower than the ninth and that the 10th would roll at the same pace at the 17th and 18th.
Which brought the retort: “But laddie, that’s why we have practice rounds.”