May 2017

Reigning champion Chris Wood to fly the flag for greenkeepers during title defence at BMW PGA Championship

BMW PGA champion 2016 Chris Wood will be flying the flag for greenkeepers everywhere when he sets out to defend his title this week.

Featured on the 29-year-old’s bag for the very first time at the BMW PGA Championship will be the logo of the British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association.

The association has around 6,000 members, drawn from every Open Championship rota course right down to the smallest municipal course. BIGGA provides world-class education for its members, helping them to produce better golf courses and contributing to the growth of the game.

World number 64 Wood is a lifelong member at Long Ashton Golf Club in Bristol, and even helped with some greenkeeping duties in his younger days. He credits the hard work of the club’s greenkeepers for helping him to develop into a European Tour event winner.

“Playing at the highest levels of golf, we are blessed with some of the finest golfing conditions in the world. Such conditions don’t come naturally and are the result of hundreds of hours of hard work by the greenkeeping staff.

“The same is true of every single golf course all over the country, where the nation’s greenkeepers put their heart and soul into preparing the course. Everything they do is to make the game more enjoyable for golfers, yet so often their efforts go unrecognised, and that’s why I’m proud to be flying the BIGGA flag during the BMW PGA Championship and going forwards.

“I know from my friends at Long Ashton that BIGGA has done so much for them in their career. Having the logo on my bag is a way of highlighting how thankful we golfers are for the hard work of greenkeepers, who provide beautiful and challenging courses that allow us to play at the highest level.”

The work of the greenkeepers at The Wentworth Club’s West Course will be under close scrutiny during the championship following an extensive renovation, led by Ernie Els Design and put into action by Wentworth’s Director of Golf Courses & Grounds Kenny Mackay. All 18 greens were stripped of the old turf and reseeded, while four greens – on the eighth, 11th, 14th and 16th holes – were completely rebuilt. Five other greens were partially rebuilt, while every single bunker was redesigned and constructed, with 29 completely removed from play.

Getting a close look at these bunkers during the tournament will be a support team made up of greenkeepers from all over the country. The European Tour has again requested the assistance of BIGGA in ensuring the course is up to the highest standards for its flagship event, with a team of greenkeepers volunteering to help out.

These BIGGA members will join the resident greenkeeping staff to aid with course preparation, and will also be seen raking bunkers throughout the tournament.

BIGGA Chief Executive Officer Jim Croxton said: “Each year our members are proud to answer the call for help from the European Tour, and they do so out of a love for the game and a desire to support their colleagues at Wentworth. It is fantastic that Chris Wood has chosen to support the nation’s greenkeepers by featuring the BIGGA logo on his bag.

“I am certain the West Course will be in incredible condition as always, and I’m sure I speak for every BIGGA member when I say we’ll all be cheering on Chris as he defends his title this week.”

BIGGA will once again also be providing a support team for the Open Championship, while volunteers help out at other tournaments such as the British Masters supported by Sky Sports and the Evian Championship.

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STERF yearbook 2016 – 10 years of exceptional progress

2016 STERF celebrated ten-year anniversary. It all started in 2006, when a small Swedish regional foundation was transformed into a pan-Nordic research foundation, with the ambition to become “A leading international centre of competence and knowledge in environmental aspects of turfgrass management for golf, delivering ‘ready-to-use research results’”. The Scandinavian Turfgrass and Environment Research Foundation – STERF – was founded! Now, 10 years later, we are proud to say that STERF has gained a leading position on the international turfgrass scene.

STERF’s ambition is to stimulate and support the golf and turfgrass sector and industry to:

Take the initiative – Work proactively – Create change

This is the only viable attitude if we want to overcome current challenges and develop a sustainable future. Today STERF is recognised as a substantial funder of turfgrass research, an international publisher of ready-to-use research findings and a highly valued partner to different stakeholders in the golf and turfgrass sector.

Despite 10 years of ongoing progress, the challenges are even greater today for the golf sector. The climate change impact is exceeding the worst expectations, strong restrictions on the use of chemicals, fertilisers and energy are expected and there is an accelerating loss of urban green areas and biodiversity. All this calls for more research and innovation for the future.

STERF’s focus for the coming 10 years will be on:

– Increased co-operation and resources, to tackle the global challenges; and

– Improved dissemination of “ready-to-use research results” for better effect in solving today’s problems.

In STERF yearbook 2016 you will get more information about STERF´s activities during 10 years. You will also get an up-date of STERF´s ongoing activities and projects.

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New Instrata Elite offers turf disease control Outside and In

The launch of an exciting new fungicide active for turf disease control now gives a powerful combination of curative and contact plus systemic properties, for reliable turf protection outside and in the plant.

Now approved for Microdochium control in the UK, Instrata Elite combines the new active ingredient, difenoconazole, with the outstanding performance of fludioxonil. Together, the complementary actives target different stages of disease life cycles for flexible application timing and reliable results.

Syngenta Technical Manager, Marcela Munoz, highlighted extensive trials have shown Instrata Elite is highly effective against key turf foliar diseases, to protect plant health and playing surface quality. Importantly, the new approval gives the opportunity for two applications per year.




“The unique properties of Instrata Elite rapidly bind the actives onto the leaf wax layer,” explained Marcela. “The fludioxonil component stays locked into the leaf wax to provide a protective contact coating that stops disease spores germinating and prevents infection of the plant.

“At the same time, the difenoconazole component immediately starts to flow from the leaf wax into the leaf. It targets disease already active in the leaf, providing early curative activity and preventing symptoms breaking out,” she added. The flow of difenoconazole from the leaf wax reservoir provides systemic protection throughout the plant, to protect new growth and ensure lasting results.

Crucially, with Instrata Elite safely locked onto the leaf wax within 30 minutes of application, it is unaffected by rain or irrigation wash-off ensuring reliable results.

Marcela highlighted that two applications of Instrata Elite per year will give greater flexibility to effectively target disease for longer through difficult high risk periods. Importantly, the new approval covers golf and amenity turf, along with sports pitches and stadia, she added.

Instrata Elite targets:

  • disease spores before they can germinate
  • disease hyphae on the surface to stop infection getting into the leaf
  • disease mycelia inside the leaf to stop disease development

The consistently reliable performance of Instrata Elite has been proven by over 60 trials across nine European countries – including STRI, Syngenta and on golf courses across the UK.

STRI has been successfully using Instrata Elite in disease trials over the last two years, reported the independent turf R&D organisation’s Research Manager, Tom Young.

“Instrata Elite has consistently shown excellent control of Microdochium nivale, especially when applied preventatively, or early curatively when used as part of a balanced fungicide programme,” he advised.

When applied as a single application in the STRI trials, either preventatively or early curatively, Instrata Elite has delivered reliable and high levels of Microdochium control, Tom added.

Furthermore, Instrata Elite achieved the outstanding performance from only 480 g/ha of active ingredient per hectare, compared to 5000 g/ha of active loading with iprodione. Instrata Elite had passed all environmental assessment tests through the approval process.

Syngenta UK Business Manager, Daniel Lightfoot, believed Instrata Elite will fit perfectly into a proactive fungicide programme. “It can be used throughout the year,” he said, “but the research and user trials experience indicate its unique properties and strengths typically match the demands for disease control from mid to late autumn and through early spring.”

He advised that for best protection of turf quality, Instrata Elite should be applied before visible symptoms are evident, through to first signs of infection. “Optimum timing will prevent disease infection getting into the leaf,” he said. “But with Instrata Elite there is still the chance for curative activity on mycelium in the leaf to stop disease before visible damage is done and minimise stress on the plant.

“Targeting disease at more points through the life-cycle gives greater flexibility in application timing to hit infection.”

Daniel advocated the use of the GreenCast website information, indicator greens and historic experience to highlight risk periods to devise an appropriate fungicide programme strategy and to tailor specific application timing.

“The advantages of Instrata Elite and the introduction of a new fungicide active for turf means it will have an integral role in every fungicide programme,” he said. “It will have a crucial function in an Integrated Turf Management approach to deliver sustainable long-term improvements in turf quality.”


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Royal Birkdale gets ready for The Open

Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport hosts the 146th Open Championship this July, which will be the 10th time it has been held at this stunning links course north of Liverpool. Since the first Open here in 1954, the course has been, alongside Royal Lytham, the most regular venue for the Championship other than St Andrews. Royal Birkdale will also be hosting the final of the R&A Nine Hole Championship on the Saturday before The Open.

As course manager for the past 22 years, this will be Chris Whittle’s third Open at Royal Birkdale, following two more when he was course manager at Muirfield and deputy at Royal Lytham. Chris has never worked on anything but links courses, and his experience of balancing the demands of the golf course with those of the land’s SSSI status is unparalleled.

Although he says the course set-up for 2017 will be very much the same as it was for the last Open here in 2008, there have been a few recent changes to the course maintenance equipment fleet supplied by local John Deere dealer Turner Groundscare of Tarvin in Chester, whose area sales manager Ian Roberts has been looking after Royal Birkdale on both the sales and service side for over 22 years.

Eight new 180SL walk-behind greens mowers have now replaced the previous 220C models, and have been joined by two new A Series machines, an 8000AE hybrid electric five-gang cylinder mower for the surrounds and an 8800A rough mower. Additional tournament support machinery and staff will be provided for The Open as required. 

“Since the last Open at Royal Birkdale in 2008, we have worked very closely with Chris and his team to provide the key greenkeeping staff with technical training at John Deere’s Langar HQ, as well as specialist onsite training. This has been designed to help them become self-sufficient in all the main aspects of machinery servicing and maintenance, and understand how to optimise machine performance,” says John Deere territory manager Marcus Morris.

“This ongoing partnership between the club, John Deere and Turner Groundscare helps us all to achieve the best possible results where they matter, out on the course.”

On the newest machines in the fleet, which also includes greens/tees and fairway mowers, Chris Whittle says: “The new 180SL walk-behinds were recommended to me by John Deere and Turners when it came time to replace the older models, so we got the dealer to send us one on demonstration and it basically sold itself.

“The narrower working width means we get very accurate contour following on our undulating greens, and at John Deere’s suggestion we’ve also had them fitted with groomers, which we’ve never used before. These help to maintain the quality of cut and finish we’re looking for.

“We only use the 8800A rough mower on the semi-rough, as we never cut the rough at Royal Birkdale,” he adds. “This is generally used to mow at two heights, one at around 35mm and the other at around 70mm – it’s a Birkdale thing! We might widen this area from five to 10m if required for tournament purposes. Other than that nothing’s really changed much at all.”

Two new electric TE Gator utility vehicles have also been added to the fleet this year, which now includes three heavy-duty Pro Gators. One is equipped with an HD200 low-profile amenity turf sprayer, one with a cargo box and one with a Dakota top dresser. Aside from the course equipment, the main aspect of running an Open championship that has changed massively in Chris’ eyes is how much bigger the tournament has become – particularly the infrastructure that envelops the event, which had already started to go up on the course in late April.

“I went to Royal Troon last year and it was a real eye opener,” he says. “We always get plenty of experienced greenkeeping support for our team behind the scenes, though, and this year will be no different. All the Open venues send a representative, plus we have a mix of local course volunteers, R&A Scholars and our own Royal Birkdale Artisan Golfers on hand to help get the extra work done. In addition, BIGGA will be providing volunteers to rake bunkers with each match during the Open.

“There’s always a real family atmosphere around the course during the tournament, probably even more so this year as it will probably be my last Open. There will be people that I’ve worked with before at other courses, and some I’ve employed – one lad’s even coming over from Pinehurst Resort in the US, he’s from Southport originally and was a trainee here. It will be hard work, as usual, but I’m really looking forward to it, and to another successful Open at Royal Birkdale.”

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