University Medal: Gordon Moir

Graduation Office
Wednesday 29 November 2023

Presented by Ben Stuart, Director of Residential and Business Services

Wednesday 29 November 2023
Afternoon ceremony

Vice-Chancellor, it is my privilege to present Gordon Moir for the University Medal.

Gordon is joined today by his wife Pauline, his daughter Shirras, and his son Bruce. Unfortunately, Gordon’s other son Andrew cannot be with us.

As a local, and as a local golfer, it was an absolute pleasure to be asked to write this citation for Gordon, and I must inform you that, after talking with Gordon, I can now confirm that there is little I do not know about grass or the agronomy of a golf course!

Gordon is a proud Brocher and for those of you who do not know, a Brocher is someone from the Aberdeenshire town of Fraserburgh, in northeast Scotland. In 1975, Gordon was given the opportunity to begin a greenkeeping apprenticeship at Fraserburgh Golf Club. Through these early years, as an apprentice, Gordon fell in love with greenkeeping and with golf itself.

In 1991, after 15 years at Fraserburgh Golf Club, Gordon and his family made their move to St Andrews, and Gordon joined the Links Trust as Head Greenkeeper at the Eden Course.

As any local golfer will know, at that time the courses in St Andrews were not at the standard we enjoy today, and the Links Trust had little money to fund the upkeep, or indeed any improvements, required for these courses – this is really where the recognition of the work Gordon undertook begins.

With Gordon’s experience, he quickly identified that the Eden Course required upgrading, and he fought hard to get the support needed to begin the long process of turning a very tired St Andrews course into one which is now in excellent condition, and much enjoyed by local and visiting golfers alike.

In recognition of his contribution, Gordon was promoted to Director of Greenkeeping in 2000 and he began the process of improving the playing conditions of all the Links courses and ensuring that St Andrews became a renowned golfing destination, befitting of the Home of Golf.

After almost three decades of Gordon’s dedication to these courses, St Andrews Links offer some of the best playing conditions in the world, regularly hosting major golfing events.

During his tenure at the Links Trust, Gordon has interacted with some of the greatest ever professional golfers and has helped celebrities and dignitaries along the way, ensuring they enjoyed their rounds on the various courses. It is safe to say that over the years at St Andrews, Gordon has seen it all, although he tells me that he has a special fondness for Jack Nicklaus, an honorary graduate of this University and an honorary citizen of St Andrews.

As you can imagine, for any golfer to play the Old Course is a lifetime’s goal and Gordon recalls one memorable early morning when, arriving at work, he spotted a player on the 18th green of the Old Course practising their putting. Gordon, quite rightly, stopped the car and got out to politely ask this golfer to remove themselves from the course. However, upon approaching the player, Gordon soon realised it was none other than the finest gentleman of the game Severiano Ballesteros. Not wishing to disturb him, Gordon quietly backed away without uttering a word.

During Gordon’s work to undertake the maintenance of the courses in the most sustainable way possible he has collaborated closely with the University, and particularly our students who are studying Sustainable Development, offering an insight into the environmental work that Gordon and his team began. Furthermore, Gordon, along with Ranald Strachan and Robbie Blyth, were the first to identify the erosion to the sand dunes at the town’s West Sands, and the work they began to save and sustain these dunes continues today.

Gordon accepted the nomination to become Vice-President of the British and International Golf Greenkeepers’ Association in 2020, becoming President in 2021. Gordon has also been a member of the St Andrews Golf Club for 31 years and has played in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and several other significant events, alongside some famous names from the world of golf.

Gordon speaks fondly of an enjoyable and worthwhile career and is now improving his game further since his retirement in 2018.

Vice-Chancellor, in recognition of his major contribution to golf, in Scotland but, more specifically, in St Andrews, and the introduction of sustainable practices to the game, I invite you to present the University Medal to Gordon Moir.

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