Curtis Tyrell filming preparations for the Open Championship from a Greenkeeping perspective and interviewed staff while filming the links.
Royal Portrush Golf Club has successfully renewed its GEO Certified® status. This is golf’s most comprehensive and widely regarded sustainability distinction assured by GEO Foundation, which serves as a credible platform for communications of real outcomes and continual improvement for golf facilities that are actively fostering nature, conserving resources, and supporting the community.
The Club first became GEO Certified in December 2015 and has continued to strengthen its commitment to sustainability and protecting the natural links habitat. Examples of this include grassland and scrub improvement and maintaining a thriving habitat for native bee species.
Commenting on the distinction, Jonathan Smith, Executive Director, GEO Foundation, said: “The Open is played on some of the world’s most revered golf courses, at venues which represent the many ways that golf can be beneficial to communities and the environment. Congratulations to the team at Royal Portrush for their achievements, and for helping to ensure the continuation of The R&A’s leadership policy of high sustainability standards for Open venues.”
Responding to the news, Graeme Beatt, Course Manager, Royal Portrush Golf Club commented: “We as a club are delighted to renew our GEO Certification and are able to track our progress and achieve continued improvement in our commitment to being an environmentally sustainable business. We are custodians of the Links here at Royal Portrush and take great pride in the flora and fauna within its sand dune grassland while also managing all departments of the business in a sustainable manner.”
Hosting The Open for the second time in its history this year, Royal Portrush will be home to several sustainability initiatives including a focus on Fairtrade, local and ethically sourced produce, waste management efforts and The Open Water Initiative, which will see free purified, chilled local water delivered directly to fans, players, staff and officials through the use of on-site water stations and special edition refillable stainless steel bottles. The initiative will shine a light on the impact of global marine plastic pollution, while helping to drive behaviour change away from the single-use mindset that has led to an epidemic of ocean pollution. The initiative has been developed by The R&A in collaboration with Bluewater and is supported by UN Environment’s Clean Seas campaign.
Steve Isaac, Director of Sustainability – at The R&A, said, “It is important that all venues which stage The Open set the standard in sustainability and we are delighted that Royal Portrush is demonstrating its continuing commitment to addressing issues concerning the local environment, use of resources and the local communities.
“Our commitment to only host The Open at certified venues has been very well received and is a good match with The Open GreenLinks initiative across the staging of the Championship related to nature, communities and resources.”
The Open GreenLinks initiative was set up with the assistance of GEO Foundation’s OnCourse® Tournaments programme, utilising many of the guidelines and resources that are designed to help golf tournaments around the world accelerate their own commitments, actions and results.
On 18-21 July 2019, The Open makes an historic return to Northern Ireland for the first time in 68 years and bringing golf’s oldest international Championship back again is Royal Portrush in County Antrim. As the club prepares to host the 148th event, Toro is honoured to play a role in helping prepare the course.
As expected, preparations for The Open are years in the making and Toro has not only been there every step of the way since the news broke in 2015 that Royal Portrush would be the 2019 host, but for the last 25 years.
Course manager Graeme Beatt, who joined the club in 2014, comments: “The relationship between Royal Portrush and Toro is a quarter of century old, and for us there is no better machinery partner to ensure the optimum conditions for the players as well as the eyes of the sporting world.”
Preparing the all-important course, crews are using Toro’s Flex 2120 pedestrian mowers for the greens, Reelmaster 3550-D and 3555-D mowers on the fairways, approaches and surrounds, Greensmaster 1000 and TriFlex 3400 on the tees, Reelmaster 3100-D with Sidewinder system on semi-roughs and Groundsmaster 4500-D on the roughs. In addition, the team uses the Greensmaster 3250-D and GR1000 on the practice area and the ProCore 648 for aerating the courses.25 additional Toro machines from Reesink Turfcare, the sole Toro distributor in the UK for golf and sports fields equipment and irrigation products, have joined the 50-strong Toro fleet already at the club in the run-up to and during the Championship.
But it’s not just a successful partnership with Toro machinery, Reesink and Lairds Grass Machinery that ensures the course will be tournament ready, but Toro irrigation too. In 2017, the irrigation system was upgraded to a Lynx central control system and Toro Infinity, Flex and B-Series sprinklers irrigate the rugged links course situated on the Atlantic coast.
“The location of the club is generally something of a challenge for an irrigation system, especially for the sprinklers,” says Beatt. “It’s quite a feat to deliver accurate spray in our unpredictable, windy and exposed conditions, but this has been no problem for Toro. We’ve been really impressed with the overall performance of the control system and sprinklers, but worthy of note are the B-Series sprinkler heads on the tees. They’ve really been put to the test and withstand all sorts.” Of course, it’s not just an irrigation system that’s new for The Open. The world-famous Dunluce course has been extended from 6,867 yards to just over 7,300 yards and every hole has had some work in varying degrees, none so much as the 17th and 18th holes which have become the tented village areas and two new holes created at seventh and eighth.
Over 22 miles of fibre optic cable has been installed with 12 miles of fibre ducts, 2,200 artic lorries-worth of equipment will have been used for the build and de-rig, 24 greenkeeping volunteers have been selected and a record-breaking number of tickets have been sold.
In fact, it’s this last fact that’s caused the only hiccup in the journey to being tournament-ready, as Beatt explains: “No Open Championship has ever sold out and when this one did, and in record time, the decision was made to release a further 15,000 tickets – that means we could have up to 230,000 spectators come through our gates! At that point we knew we needed to revisit the already established catering areas and extend them to accommodate this, which involved a lot of extra work. Let’s just say the Toro Workman MDX-D and HDX utility vehicles were really put to the test over this time moving kit around the course and aiding the team in construction work!”
Doug Reid from Reesink, who has worked with Royal Portrush for almost half of its 25-year relationship, says: “Royal Portrush has been nothing but consistent in its machinery purchasing over the years, but as expected in the last five years things ramped up and some fundamental replacements and changes to the fleet took place. The biggest change was the switch from the four-wheel Reelmaster 6700-D to the three-wheel Reelmaster 3550-D for a lighter tread on the fairways. The RM3550-D also happens to be ideal for a links course.
“The way we work with Graeme and the team is a definite partnership, and we’re glad that Toro remains the brand Royal Portrush has relied on for the last 25 years, and for its second Open Championship. Having the right equipment is vital in the preparation and performance for an event such as this, and we have worked closely with Royal Portrush to ensure all the tournament support needed from us is in place.”
It takes a tremendous amount of teamwork and coordination to prepare for an international event but as Graeme says: “I feel lucky to have been chosen for the job; it’s been such an honour to be involved. Probably the biggest achievement is that we’ve managed to do all the preparations we have with minimal disruption to our members. We’ve had their unwaivering support, and I’m sure that it will all be worth it to see their course presented on the world stage, challenging the world’s best golfers for golf’s greatest Championship!”
Photo supplied by the R&A – L-R) Anders Jacobson, co-founder and CEO of Blue, Tom Watson, Global Ambassador for The Open, and Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, launch The Open Water initiative at Portrush.
The Open will become one of the first major global sporting events to remove single-use plastic water bottles in a move supported by the UN.
The Open Water initiative has been developed with Bluewater – the leading global innovator in drinking water solutions – to deliver a pioneering new approach to supplying drinking water at a major event by using water refilling stations and reusable stainless steel bottles to deliver pure fresh water directly to fans, players, staff and officials at The Open.
The project is supported by UN Environment’s Clean Seas campaign and aims to raise awareness of the issue of global marine plastic pollution and the need to protect the world’s oceans and coastlines, including the marine life that inhabits them.
Daniel Cooney, Communication Deputy Director from UN Environment said, “Sport offers a unique opportunity to engage with a global audience on environmental issues. We commend this initiative to tackle marine plastic pollution. The Open offers a powerful platform to influence how people think about drinking water and its associated impact on the natural environment.”
More than 5,000 special edition reusable BPA-free stainless steel Bluewater water bottles will be given to fans free of charge at The Open and they will also be on sale throughout the venue for a special promotional price of less than five pounds. Fans will be welcome to bring their own refillable water bottles to use at the Championship.
All golfers playing in The Open will be given a personalised Players’ Edition stainless steel Bluewater water bottle with their name laser-engraved on it. A limited number of the Players’ Edition bottles will be made available for sale in The Open Shop and at The Open Camping Village for fans wishing to purchase a special souvenir gift.
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “The Open has a close relationship with nature and the coastal system of the world’s finest links courses and it is important that we safeguard them for future generations.
“We have all learned so much of the destructive impact of plastic in the world’s oceans and we believe we have to take steps to remove all single-use plastic water bottles from The Open in order to encourage fans and players to use alternative and more sustainable materials.”
Anders Jacobson, co-founder and CEO of Blue, the impact-led investment company which owns Stockholm-based Bluewater, said, “We are honoured and delighted to be collaborating with The R&A on The Open Water project, which blazes a purposeful message of the key role world class sporting organisations can play when it comes to leaving a cleaner planet for future generations.
“Bluewater technology offers solutions enabling water to be purified and dispensed locally at point of consumption – with minimal waste – thereby eliminating the need for single-use plastic bottles and their polluting transportation.”
Life Water aluminium cans will also be used as ready-sealed containers to provide water in some areas of the venue. The Life Water zero plastic cans are filled with natural British spring water, are made from 70% recycled aluminium, are 100% recyclable and BPA-free. Every can also helps to fund clean water projects across the globe.
Wentworth Club and John Deere Limited have announced a new, exclusive partnership for the supply of golf course maintenance equipment to the world famous West, East and Edinburgh Championship Courses at Virginia Water in Surrey, from spring 2019.
Wentworth Club has been the host venue since 1984 for the PGA Championship tournament, which is regarded as the flagship event on the European Tour. The 2019 BMW PGA Championship is being held on the West Course from September 19 to 22, with John Deere and its supplying dealer Farol Ltd providing additional technical and equipment support.
The new course maintenance fleet consists of over 140 machines including mowers for tees, surrounds and approaches, fairways, greens and rough, as well as compact and utility tractors, Gator utility vehicles and the latest state of the art GPS Precision Sprayers.
“We are delighted to welcome the John Deere company to Wentworth as our exclusive partner in the supply of greenkeeping and grounds machinery through its regional dealer Farol,” said Wentworth Director of Golf & Greenkeeping Kenny Mackay. “This agreement represents a significant investment to ensure our fleet is always at the leading edge of technology and innovation.”
John Deere has been a leader in GPS technology in the agricultural industry for many years and is now developing systems specifically for golf course maintenance use, with Wentworth Club being an early adopter. The new advanced technology sprayer delivers great environmental benefits by applying inputs far more accurately and only to predetermined target areas. This significantly reduces overall chemical usage and can potentially cut spray costs by up to 15 per cent.
Using AutoTrac, the sprayer steers itself automatically to an accuracy of 2.5cm using RTK (real-time kinetic) satellite guidance. It also features individual nozzle control and Wireless Data Transfer, which enables spray records and application maps to be sent from the machine to the John Deere Operations Centre website or mobile app, where they can be remotely accessed at any time.
The new machinery fleet has been purchased on a planned replacement cycle in line with Wentworth Club policy, using a John Deere Financial operating lease specifically tailored to reduce the lifelong cost of ownership.
“The world of course management and greenkeeping is changing fast and John Deere is at the forefront of these developments,” said Carlos Aragones, John Deere’s Turf & Golf Sales & Marketing Manager for Europe, CIS, North Africa and the Near & Middle East.
“John Deere equipment helps to maintain many of the world’s greatest golf courses, and we are honoured to now include Wentworth Club in that prestigious company. We look forward to building a long and productive partnership with the Wentworth team, and to the Club becoming one of our leading strategic partners in the golf industry across Europe and beyond.”
Gary Barnfield, head greenkeeper at Oswestry Golf Club in Shropshire, claims the SISIS Flexibrush has proved to be an ideal solution for controlling worm casts.
Oswestry Golf Club is a mature parkland 18 hole course set in the glorious Shropshire countryside and Gary has been working at the club for an impressive 31 years after joining as an apprentice. Over the years he has worked his way up through the ranks and six years ago he was promoted to the position of head greenkeeper.
Since taking over as head greenkeeper Gary has implemented a number of changes to the maintenance regimes which has no doubt reinforced the club’s reputation for being in an excellent condition all year round.
However, over recent years Gary claims that he has faced arguably his biggest challenge after a number of chemicals were removed from the turfcare market.
“With the ban of certain chemicals we have not been able to use what was once in our armoury,” he said. “This proved to be problematic, as it no doubt did for every other greenkeeper, but the biggest loss was Carbendazim. Unfortunately the worms came out and more and more casts were appearing so we had to come up with a solution.
“An STRI advisor came to visit us and recommended that we apply some sand to top dress to the areas and also to brush the worm casts and level them off before we cut. We needed to find ourselves a reliable machine that would give the worm casts a rigorous brush and we trialled four brushes from four different brands. The SISIS Flexibrush was the stand out machine.”
The SISIS Flexibrush is a tractor mounted brush which is equally effective to disperse top dressing and remove excess material on natural turf and on synthetic surfaces. The versatile Flexibrush can also be used for dew dispersal and striping for improved presentation. It has a 5.35 metre working width, its brush sections float to follow ground contours and the outer sections fold for transport and storage.
“It’s not only great for brushing the worm casts but it also stands the grass up before we cut – which improves the quality of the cut and gives us better presentation,” said Gary.
“In fact, the Flexibrush has got multiple uses because we use it for knocking dew off in the mornings and also in the winter months when the turf is not growing so much we will brush instead of cutting to keep the presentation to a high standard.
“Ultimately, we had to do something about the worm casts and the Flexibrush has done a brilliant job. I think it is a great alternative to spraying the worms and I think more greenkeepers will go down this route.
“It has been a cost saving exercise for us too because we used to have contractors come in and spray the worms but the SISIS Flexibrush was a one off payment and we get to keep it for us long as we like.
“It’s such a well-built machine and nothing can really go wrong with it – I think it will probably even outlast me!”
Perfection is the minimum requirement at Wassenaarse Golf Groendael in The Netherlands, and a new fleet of Jacobsen mowers will be contributing towards impeccable greens and immaculate fairways.
The exclusive nine-hole course is located between Wassenaar and The Hague and is known throughout The Netherlands for its fast greens and particular attention to detail, which have become prominent traits of the club.
This new fleet of machines continues the association between head greenkeeper, Marco Wouters, Jacobsen and local dealer Pols Zuidland, and Marco considers his relationship with both to be a contributing factor behind his decision.
“Besides the reliability of the machines and the quality of cut, I would like to express that the continuous support of Pols Zuidland is equally important because without the right service we cannot do our job.
“The feeling of belonging to the Jacobsen family is also something to consider. I regularly visit the GCSAA Golf Show, and I meet a lot of Jacobsen staff who are always happy to talk through my questions. So, the support from both Jacobsen and Pols Zuidland was a reason to make another seven-year commitment and hopefully another seven after that.”
To meet the standards expected by the 350 members, Marco turned to Jacobsen’s renowned quality of cut and after-cut presentation. To achieve a daily stimp between 11 and 12 on the bent grass greens during the season, and around 10 during the off-season, he purchased two Eclipse 122 pedestrian mowers fitted with bi-directional groomer systems and one Eclipse 322 triplex with 15 blades.
For Marco, this combination of greens mowers met all of his requirements while offering that bit extra, as he explains. “One of the main reasons we chose the 122 is that we could install lithium batteries, which allows us to mow quietly in the mornings without disturbing the houses that surround the course. For presentation and practicality, the decision to choose the groomers was obvious because Jacobsen’s are known around the world for their ability to do a great job, for me, there is no other name/brand that’s doing it better.
“We aim to hand mow the greens seven days a week, but there are occasions when we can’t, and that’s why we got the Eclipse 322. Quality of cut was the main reason along with durability, but other features also helped us make the decision. Our course is situated in a drinking water reservoir and is environmentally prone to contamination, so being able to eliminate the use of hydraulic fluids and oil without having to sacrifice on cut quality is excellent for us.
“Another feature myself and my team love is the swing out centre reel. It makes the daily height of cut and bedknife adjustments much easier and saves a lot of time.”
A super light-weight SLF530 reel mower was selected for use on the fescue fairways for its exceptional after-cut presentation. At Wassenaarse, all fairways are cross-mowed and boxed off, with a clear definition between the fairways and rough at all times. Being able to adjust the units at the touch of a button has made achieving this definition easier along with the groomer system that is preventing the build-up of wet clippings and leaves falling into the grass sward.
Marco’s attention to detail doesn’t stop with the course and is applied to every machine that’s used on it. It is a common site to see golf buggies dressed in club colours and logos, but at Wassenaarse the machines get the same treatment because they are regularly seen on the course by members. All of the new mowers, three Cushman Hauler Pro’s, Smithco sprayer, bunker rake and XL roller have been sprayed black and had Groendael’s logo applied, and received a very positive reaction from members who have praised the uniform appearance.
L-R, Robert Ewing – Credibility Manager, GEO Foundation, Patrick Mallet – Director of Innovations, ISEAL Alliance, Kelli Jerome – Executive Director, GEO Foundation
GEO Foundation, supported by multiple partners and stakeholders, has today announced the development of a new and ground-breaking framework for golf’s social and environmental reporting – this news was shared in front of an audience of global sustainability systems, government agencies, non-government organisations, corporations and other institutions.
The announcement represents a significant watershed in how the sport can quantifiably and consistently track and demonstrate its progress and value.
The Independent Chair of the project’s Strategic Advisory Group is Paul Druckman, former CEO of the International Integrated Reporting Council. Druckman said: “Golf is a large and influential sport, comprising over 34,000 grassroots facilities in over 200 countries, hundreds of professional tournaments and with a significant supply chain. It also has powerful media and reach, and can inspire hundreds of thousands of fans.
“Golf is not unique amongst business to increasingly recognise the need to consistently measure and communicate with credibility its environmental and social impact. Through this work, golf is also gearing up to show how the sport delivers against global priorities, principally the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals’’.
Jonathan Smith, Executive Director of GEO Foundation, the international not-for-profit dedicated to helping advance sustainability in and through golf, added: “The goal is to enable golf to accurately monitor, measure and communicate real impacts, and to connect that locally, nationally and internationally. It has been a complex but enjoyable challenge – studying, collaborating, developing a deep understanding of the priority metrics, mapping audiences and building user-centric software to simplify data gathering at scale.
The project began a year ago after discussion hosted by the Vidauban Foundation and the response from golf associations, as well as externally, has been tremendous. We’d particularly like to thank strategic partners: The R&A, Vidauban Foundation, Toro Foundation, and the ISEAL Innovations Fund, plus over 150 scientists, association leaders and grassroots golf course and club managers – who contributed to the various consultations.”
The framework is designed to help golf more consistently quantify and communicate its ‘net impact’ across golf’s ‘Sustainability Agenda’. As such it covers the material environmental and social issues across three main themes: fostering nature, conserving resources and supporting communities.
Following the launch of OnCourse Portugal, FEGGA took to the road to run workshops introducing the new translated version of OnCourse Portugal. FEGGA ran four Workshops covering the whole Country and connected with half the golf courses in Portugal. The Workshops covered an introduction of the concept of OnCourse, we took all the respective attendees through the sign-up process, and the many tools that make up what is now a very good resource for golf clubs to use.
First stop was Oporto GC & great to spend time with the local greenkeepers supporting “Responsible Golf Course Management” The second day saw us move south from Porto to Cascais for the second OnCourse Portugal Workshop, We received excellent response at Quinta Da Marinha, with a very motivated group of people sharing their knowledge & experiences.
Day three saw us visiting Palmares Golf Club in Lagos, home club to the FEGGA Vice Chairman Joel Nunes. Again we were meet with a great gathering of greenkeepers, sharing their thoughts & helping make our Responsible efforts in Turf Management stronger. The last venue was Quinta do Lago. Again the discussion was very positive and engaging and in how you approach Responsible Golf Course Management.
There was a very strong message that came from all the participates during all the Workshops, and a real commitment to work together, sharing their experiences for the better development of the greenkeeping profession, and ultimately the game of golf. A short Presentation was made at the recent FEGGA Conference, and already other Associations are planning to run their own OnCourse Development Workshops.
Thanks must go to the R&A for supporting this initiative. We would also like to thank GEO, the Portuguesse Greenkeepers Association, and the Portuguesse Golf Federation for their support in delivering the Workshops.
In 2018 STERF had 15 ongoing projects related to integrated pest management, sustainable water management, winter stress management, and multifunctional golf facilities and ecosystem services, all of them presented in the yearbook, which can be downloaded here: http://www.sterf.org/Media/Get/3170/sterf-yearbook-2018-korr
Other important STERF activities were:
• During spring 2018, STERF presented two new videos, From dense sward to biodiverse roughs and The golf course as an outdoor classroom. The videos can be found at:
http://www.sterf.org/sv/about-sterf/newsarchive/dense-swards-video and at: http://www.sterf.org/sv/about-sterf/news-archive/inbjudan-skolseminarium
• This extreme weather situation during the growing season 2018 highlighted a need for more knowledge about saving water and about efficient irrigation practices on golf courses. By coincidence 2018 was also the final year of the STERF project ‘Engineering better irrigation in turf ’, in which an irrigation workshop had been scheduled well before the 2018 growing season. The workshop took place at Fureso GC, Copenhagen, on 20 June.
• During 2018, the very important handbook ‘The Golf Course Managers’ Handbook on Turfgrass Winter Stress Management’, with practical advice and recommendations, was translated into Swedish and Norwegian and launched at several seminars.
• 2018 saw the release of a new step-by-step workbook, tailor-made for golf clubs, for mapping values, functions and activities on and beyond golf facilities, and also for finding key partners and engaging them in multifunctional projects that contribute to sustainable development (Agenda 2030).
• Effective dialogue between researchers and practitioners is necessary to identify research priorities in new fields and to ensure that newfound knowledge is transferred into practice. During 2018, a number of national seminars were arranged in the Nordic countries. In total, more than 400 practitioners from the golf industry participated in the seminars.
• In October 2018, Maria Strandberg, STERF, and Trygve Aamlid, NIBIO, were invited to Northeast Agricultural University, Harbin, and to China Agricultural University, Beijing. The purpose of this visit was ‘Communication, visiting and learning’. It was also a great honour that Trygve Aamlid was appointed Honorary Professor at Northeast Agricultural University, Harbin.