- How the Greenkeeping industry has coped with the crisis
- How the Greenkeeping Associations supported their members and helped them stay safe
- How those Greenkeeper Associations with strong links with their Golf Federation and Government made good use of those links – and how they built them in the first place
- How well golf and greenkeeping have settled down across Europe and what measures are now being taken to ensure safety of greenkeepers and players
- What opportunities for golf and greenkeeping have arisen from the crisis and how the industry is taking advantage of those
- What Greenkeeper Associations are now doing to communicate with their members; how they view their annual Autumn and Winter Conferences this year, how they are able to manage Patrons and Sponsors, and what Associations are currently doing to give the best service to their members
Set on the Lincolnshire coast with beautiful views over the North Sea, the James Braid designed North Shore golf course at Skegness offers a challenge to all levels of golfer with its interesting and attractive mixture of links and parkland holes crossing over each other in two loops of nine.
Like many golf clubs across the country, North Shore has seen a growth in membership during the coronavirus lockdown, and owner/director William Mitchell anticipates their biggest increase for several years when the club’s country members return to play safely. Country membership is available to anyone living outside a 30-mile radius of Skegness, and local legend has it that at one time North Shore could boast the largest holiday membership in the world.
The pandemic also interrupted, but ultimately did not affect, an order for the club’s first new fleet of John Deere course maintenance equipment from local dealer F G Adamson & Son of Langworth near Lincoln. This was originally finalised before the lockdown started, but with the closure of the club’s popular hotel as well as the course, payment had to be postponed.
“John Deere Financial were very understanding and flexible about the finance lease on the new kit,” says William. “This has been structured around a six-year seasonal profile matched to our normal income stream, based on membership renewals in April and summer visitors to both the course and hotel. The whole deal has been very straightforward and works very well for the club, especially in the current circumstances.
“Annual full membership makes up a small proportion of rounds played, with our main business relying on visitors staying with us on golf breaks. Skegness’ population is about 20,000, but summer visitors account for 10 times that number, so we really rely on that influx of people each year. Groups stay at the hotel for a couple of nights, play four rounds of golf and hold their own competitions.
“The course therefore has to be in tip-top condition – if that side of the business isn’t as good as we can make it, the rest wouldn’t stack up. We’re happy to say that we’ve had really good feedback from members on the course’s playability since the John Deere machines were introduced, right from the start. Kudos to our head greenkeeper Brett Cornelius, too – he did an amazing job during lockdown and the members have really appreciated it.”
The new fleet consists of a John Deere 7700A PrecisionCut fairway mower, 8800A TerrainCut rotary roughs mower, two 2500E hybrid electric triplex mowers equipped with greens and tees cylinder cutting units, a TH 6×4 Gator utility vehicle and a Tru-Turf greens iron.
“We lost our head mechanic last December, but Brett combines his greenkeeping expertise with mechanical skills,” adds William. “This cemented in our minds that we needed to move from a shed of old kit to new, up-to-date machines and technology that are reliable and efficient.”
Brett had used John Deere equipment before coming to North Shore as head greenkeeper seven years ago, so he discussed what was available with Adamson’s area sales manager Scott Trestrail and had all the recommended machines on demonstration before finalising the deal.
“The machines we chose were pretty much like for like replacements, although we hadn’t had a dedicated ride-on rough mower before, so that made the biggest immediate improvement,” he says. “The 8800A rides the course contours well and you can raise and lower the cutting height in five minutes, it’s really easy. I had used a Gator at my previous course and it’s such a versatile vehicle, with the six-wheel design providing very low ground pressure.”
Brett carried out very basic course maintenance during lockdown – he was originally furloughed along with the rest of the staff, but only took about 10 days off before opting to return and keep the course looking as tidy as possible. “Basically I just did a lot of mowing!” he says.
“The initial drought conditions meant the links holes browned off straight away and didn’t need much attention, so I was lucky in that respect. Since reopening in May we’re still doing a lot of catching up, but having new machines has helped us enormously. They’ve made us more productive and we spend far less time in the workshop than before.”
Bloomington, Minneapolis, United States: The Toro Company has launched its Sustainability Endures platform, which will strengthen TTC’s strategic focus on sustainability and its long-standing commitment to making a positive impact financially, socially and environmentally worldwide.
Sustainability is core to TTC’s purpose and culture. In fiscal 2019, TTC enhanced its focus on sustainability by establishing a cross-functional sustainability leadership team to further develop and implement an enterprise-wide sustainability strategy. In so doing, TTC strives to build on its tradition of sustainability and drive progress with a transparent, integrated approach.
“Sustainability is not a new concept for The Toro Company,” said Richard Olson, Chairman and CEO of The Toro Company. “It is deeply rooted in our purpose and is the foundation of our strategic business priorities of accelerating profitable growth, driving productivity and operational excellence, and empowering our people. We believe sustainability practices and guiding principles rest at the core of creating long-term value and positive change in the markets we support and in the communities we serve around the world,” he added.
Sustainability Endures introduces four strategic pillars – People, Products, Process and Planning – that help define and guide The Toro Company’s sustainability strategies and execution of those strategies. Through these pillars, The Toro Company is focusing on environmental, social and governance areas that it believes are most material to TTC and where it can make a meaningful impact, including health and safety, diversity, equity and inclusion, water conservation, product innovation and operational efficiency.
This year also marked an important milestone for The Toro Company in its sustainability efforts with the release of its 2019 Sustainability Report. The report reflects TTC’s culture of innovation and long-standing commitment to economic, environmental and social responsibility, from its products to its global operations and philanthropic support worldwide The 2019 Sustainability Report focuses on TTC’s efforts during its 2019 fiscal year and before and, as such, does not cover its response to the Covid-19 pandemic or the recent social unrest and social justice activities concerning systemic racism that have impacted the lives of many around the world.
Key fiscal 2019 sustainability initiatives and accomplishments include:
- Deepening commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). In addition to designating DEI as part of the formal responsibilities within TTC’s Human Resources team, TTC is broadening the lens from workforce and workplace practices, to seeking out synergies with supplier management practices and philanthropic giving.
- Employee health and safety is a paramount value of TTC. TTC implemented a comprehensive Environmental, Health and Safety data management system to help drive engagement and increased transparency for proactive safety performance. TTC saw reductions in both its Total Recordable Injury and Lost Workday rates during fiscal 2019.
- Impacting our communities and small-holder farmers in developing countries. As part of its Land. Water. Thrive. philanthropic initiative and employee immersion experience, TTC partnered with iDE to work with small-holder farmers in Honduras to better understand their irrigation practices to help develop drip systems and water storage solutions that are affordable, sustainable and meet the needs of both growers and their communities.
- Continued focus on water stewardship. TTC was recognised by the US Environmental Protection Agency with the WaterSense Excellence Award for its dedication to water management innovation and education, marking the fourth consecutive year that it has received the prestigious award.
- Improving operational efficiency. TTC began its journey to implement a new energy management system to better access site energy consumption and resource efficiency at its production facilities. The new system provides real-time access to data with analytics to identify key performance trends and opportunities for operational efficiency, as well as energy and environmental impact reduction.
- Energy-efficient technologies. With a focus on energy efficiency and developing sustainable solutions, TTC introduced several products to further expand its alternative power offerings. Examples include a new line of 60V lithium-ion products for homeowners, the Greensmaster eTriFlex hybrid riding greens mower, and the all-electric e-Dingo 500 compact utility loader.
“While sustainability has traditionally been part of our culture, we will continue to take action to ensure we are meeting the demands of the rapidly changing world we live in. There is much we have done, and there is more we can, and will, do,” said Olson. “Sustainability Endures is both a celebration of our long-standing focus on social and environmental responsibility, and a signal of our continued commitment to expand our positive impact around the world, which is inherent in our legacy of excellence.”
The sustainability report, which was prepared with reference to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), can be found at: www.thetorocompany.com/sustainability
US Kids Golf Venice Open retains GEO Certified® Tournament status – Organisers maintain ‘green momentum’ for 2020 edition of the event
Last year’s US Kids Golf Venice Open has once again been recognised as one of the world’s most environmentally and socially responsibly golf tournaments, having retained certification from the non-profit GEO Foundation.
The same core team of tournament organisers that have made sustainability a central priority for the event continued to deliver against the international criteria as well as responding well to the annual Continual Improvement Points that were set last year.
For the 2020 edition of the event, the action plan continues to deliver previous best practices plus push the boundaries on new projects and innovations. As ever, the plan is comprehensive in the range of environmental and social issues it addresses, and the scope of application across venue and accommodation; staging activities; player and family engagement; legacy projects and community outreach. This is particularly commendable given the tremendous disruption and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 health crisis.
Dan Van Horn, Founder and Chief Executive of the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation said: “This is great news, and demonstrates that we have an ongoing commitment to doing things in the right way – for the local communities and environments that our tournaments touch. This year has been particularly challenging, but we now look forward to staging a safe, environmentally friendly event in 2020, and one that also gives the community and families something to look forward to after many months of concern.”
Paolo Casati, President of Golf della Montecchia and of PlayGolf54 Group said: “If anything, environmental issues have gained even greater importance and visibility since last year, which explains why we are trying so hard to keep coming up with new ideas and solutions. All of the team work incredibly hard and passionately on this, and I’m delighted to see them get the recognition they deserve.
We will again be focused on this for the 2020 Venice Open edition, and with great attention to all health regulations, which we will apply with rigour to guarantee safety and health for all the families involved.”
The initiative was led by the voluntary leadership of the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation and Golf della Montecchia, with strong support from the other two host venues – Golf Club Frassanelle and Galzignano Terme Spa & Golf Resort.The event is also backed by the PGAs of Europe.
Jonathan Smith, Founder and Executive Director, GEO Foundation added: “Our congratulations again to everyone involved at the Venice Open. It would be easy to become complacent, and there is every reason to turn attention to other pressing human health issues – but the organisers have continued to ask questions and explore how they can do things better – and given the underlying significance of some of the issues they are addressing, this is hugely commendable.”
- Golf della Montecchia GEO Certified® for 7 years and winner of IAGTO Sustainability Award
- Golf Club Frassanelle and Galzignano Terme are in OnCourse® sustainability program and working towards GEO Certified®
- All courses are pioneering organic management of new, warm-season grasses; and studying sustainable turf, biodiversity and water conservation, and reduced carbon footprint in partnership with NGOs and universities.
- Players, caddies and families completed an environmental questionnaire and environmental information family orientation packs
- Sustainable bamboo golf tees from Ocean Tee were supplied to players
- Sustainability themed signage across all venues and hotels
- Hotels and restaurants committed to the tournament’s sustainability policy
- Recovery of all recyclable materials and water refill stations
- Forty bicycles were provided to families by the JSH Group hotels
- Local sourcing with wine, meat, dairy and most of the vegetables from local farmlands (supplier Nautilus Fish and Wine has very comprehensive sustainability policy, more on their website)
- Local schools helped organise and stage the tournament, cooperation with local museums to promote the area’s history and culture, and fundraising for local charity, ‘Team for Children’.
About GEO Foundation
GEO Foundation is the international not-for-profit dedicated to advancing sustainability in and through golf. Its goal is to work collaboratively to help the sport embrace environmental and social issues and become widely acclaimed for its role in fostering nature, conserving resources and building healthy communities. GEO assures the OnCourse® programmes for grassroots golf facilities, new developments and tournaments, each of which can lead to the internationally accredited, endorsed and independently verified GEO Certified® label.