Gleneagles will hold a unique position in golfing history when the biggest event in women’s golf concludes this weekend, by becoming the first venue in Europe to have hosted both The Solheim Cup and The Ryder Cup (in 2014).
As the Gleneagles and volunteer greenkeeping teams led by golf courses manager Craig Haldane, together with director of agronomy and estates Scott Fenwick, put the finishing touches to the Jack Nicklaus-designed PGA Centenary Course, John Deere and local dealer Double A are equally busy behind the scenes.
The greenkeeping team at Gleneagles has risen to 100 people, with tournament standard conditioning also extending to The King’s Course, which is hosting The Junior Solheim Cup, and The Queen’s Course, which remains open for member and VIP visitor play during the week.
John Deere is the official golf course and turf maintenance machinery event partner to Gleneagles for this 16th biennial edition of The Solheim Cup. The company has a long association with professional golf, having been a title sponsor on the PGA Tour, official supplier to the PGA Tour for over 25 years, official supplier to the Ladies European Tour and a partner at numerous Solheim Cup events.
In addition, John Deere is partnering Gleneagles by exclusively providing golf course maintenance machinery and ancillary equipment for use across all three championship golf courses.
“We are very grateful for the support from our local dealer Double A as we’ve been gearing up the John Deere fleet ahead of the tournament,” says Craig Haldane. “Typically we aim to maintain all three courses at a very high level all year round, but we’ve upped the ante for The Solheim Cup.
“Closing the course three weeks prior to the event has allowed it to recover from any stress and provided additional time to prepare and introduce a higher frequency of cut. By fine tuning our existing practices we’ve been able go up another level in terms of a quality cut and finish for the tournament.
“We’re also very fortunate to benefit from the extra resources and experience provided by the volunteer greenkeepers supporting our team this week. Eight of the 52 volunteers are women, who have joined our own Laura Campbell and BIGGA’s head of membership services Tracey Maddison to help with the course preparations, so it’s fitting that we can showcase the equal role women play in our industry, especially during The Solheim Cup.”
Carlos Aragones, John Deere European turf sales & marketing manager, adds: “The Solheim Cup is one of the biggest events on the 2019 sporting calendar and we are delighted to be a part of it. We are also proud of our collaboration with Gleneagles in helping to prepare the course for such a prestigious tournament.”
In 2019 John Deere and its dealers are supporting more than 10 major tournaments in the UK and Ireland, every month from the Betfred British Masters at Hillside Golf Club in May to The Solheim Cup at Gleneagles and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in September. This involves providing specialist support staff and more than 150 machines including walk-behind and ride-on greens mowers, tees & surrounds, fairway and rough mowers, compact tractors and Gator utility vehicles.
“Traditionally we work closely with the individual club’s course managers and greenkeeping teams to help keep all the machines in the fleet serviced and ready for work each day, and ensure all cutting units can achieve the highest possible quality of cut,” says John Deere Limited turf division manager Chris Meacock. “This partnership approach helps everyone to achieve the best possible results where they matter, out on the course, and keep things running as smoothly as possible throughout the event.”
Former St Andrews Links Trust Director of Greenkeeping Gordon Moir has accepted the nomination to become vice president of the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association in 2020, with a view to becoming president in 2021.
Moir, 60, retired from his position at St Andrews Links in December 2018 after a career that saw him involved with the hosting of more than 37 championships, including five Opens. He was just the eighth person to hold the title of Director of Greenkeeping at St Andrews since the first, Old Tom Morris, retired in 1904.
A farmer’s son from Fraserburgh in the north of Scotland, Moir began his career at the town’s golf club in 1976, attended Elmwood College for his training, and very quickly moved through the ranks to the role of head greenkeeper. After ten years in charge at Fraserburgh, he moved on to become head greenkeeper of St Andrews’ Eden Course in 1991, before later becoming the overall Director of Greenkeeping.
Moir has previously served on the BIGGA National Board and is a former chairman of the association’s Scottish Region. In 1995, while chairman, he met Arnold Palmer and presented him with a crystal vase in recognition of all the legendary golfer had done for greenkeeping.
Throughout his time at St Andrews, Moir recognised that the club had a duty as torchbearers for the greenkeeping industry. As such, he was a great supporter of the Golf Environment Organization and the Golf Environment Awards and would often speak at the annual BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition. As vice president, Moir will support Colin Webber throughout his year as president of the association. Webber, 60, founded Portmore Golf Park in Devon in 1993 and is also heavily committed to ecology and sustainability, winning a Golf Environment Award at the facility in 2010.
Moir said: “I was absolutely delighted to be asked to be president of BIGGA. To be honest, it was something that I really hoped would happen, and I’m glad that my retirement has enabled me to accept this opportunity. I’ve tried to stay involved with the greenkeeping industry since retiring, and so I’m really proud to be offered the chance to represent the association in this way and meet people from all over the country who I haven’t seen for a year or who I wouldn’t have met otherwise.”
He added: “There is so much available to members of BIGGA, such as getting involved with the various support teams or the numerous networking opportunities, and it can open up so many doors in your career. The association has done so much for me and I look forward to being the one talking to members and spreading that message.”
Webber said: “When I was asked to become president, my first thought was ‘why aren’t they asking Gordon?’ He’s the perfect candidate because of what he’s done throughout his career and the level that he’s worked at. His nomination just shows the breadth and scale of the association and how it brings together people from all over the greenkeeping industry together. I’m delighted that Gordon will be bringing all that experience to the role, which can only be a huge benefit to the association.”
Moir will be appointed Vice President of BIGGA during the BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition, which takes place in Harrogate, North Yorkshire during January 2020. He will then become President at the same event the following year.
BIGGA Chairman Scott Reeves said: “Each of BIGGA’s presidents have brought a new dimension to the role. I’m sure Gordon will add to this increasingly-respected position in his own unique way. I look forward to working with him when he becomes vice president and onwards in his year as president.”
The European Tour and the Toro Company have extended their long-term partnership by four years, as the worldwide provider of outdoor environment solutions celebrates its 100th year serving the golf industry.
The renewed agreement takes the European Tour’s relationship with Toro to more than 20 years, meaning they will continue to supply turf maintenance and irrigation products across the European Tour, Challenge Tour and Staysure Tour in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, as well as servicing the European Tour Destinations portfolio of golf venues.
The agreement is a highlight of a milestone year for Toro, as it celebrates a century of innovation in the golf market, which started with the introduction of the industry’s first motorised fairway mower in 1919.
Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour, (above left) said: “Toro has a long history of excellence in the golf industry, and we are delighted to extend a relationship which is instrumental in presenting host courses across the world in the best possible condition. Toro is a company that shares our values in areas such as sustainability and innovation, and we look forward to working with them over the next four years, extending one of our longest-running supplier associations.”
Andy Brown, Senior Sales Manager EMEA at Toro, (above right) said: “We are proud to continue our longstanding relationship with the European Tour as official supplier of turf maintenance and irrigation products. This has been an important relationship for the company over the past 20 years, and we look forward to continuing to provide equipment and support. It’s a privilege to have a role in preparing world-class courses for some of the greatest players in the game.”
Not content to rest on its laurels after the success of hosting last year’s Ryder Cup, Le Golf National’s management team is continuing to invest in its facilities, building a substantial new training area for short game practice.
Located between the 16th green of the Albatros course and the club’s driving range, the new short game area housed a large grandstand during the 2018 Ryder Cup.
Capillary Concrete and EcoBunker helped in the construction of Le Golf National’s new short game area “When the stand came down after the event, all the grass in the area was dead, so it was clear we needed to do something with the ground,” said Lucas Pierré, golf courses and estates manager at Le Golf National. “At the same time, we decided to rebuild all our training areas using better materials. They are really important for us and get a great deal of use, both from our paying golf customers and from our coaches running clinics for local schoolchildren.”
“The area between the 16th green and the driving range was ideal for this use, as it was already covered by our irrigation system,” said Pierré. “The new short game area was designed in-house, jointly by me, Alejandro Reyes, our former superintendent, now an agronomic consultant, and by our head golf teacher. We saved as much of the USGA rootzone as possible – it is quite large, with 3,000 square metres of green space, 4,000 sq m of surrounds and 1,000 sq m of sand, in two big bunkers.
“We already have Capillary Concrete on the Albatros course, and we are used to working with their French distributor, Stan Chapus of Greenmix, so we know that the system works, and we decided on EcoBunker to create the bunker edging. Together they make an advanced system – not cheap, but they work well together. We can keep the sand on the bunker faces; it doesn’t wash down every time there is a big rain.’”
The new area will open in September for use by the local golf schools, and will be in use when the French Open returns to Le Golf National in October.
Major associations make commitment to deliver on core values of environmental stewardship, respect for culture and community, and use of clean, renewable resources.
Auckland, August 2019
The golf bodies of New Zealand have today announced their unified support for a new national initiative that will drive the sport’s sustainability performance to new heights over the coming months and years. The bold statement comes at the launch of OnCourse® New Zealand – a national version of the international program developed and assured by GEO Foundation.
Dean Murphy, the CEO of New Zealand Golf (NZG) launched the initiative from Remuera Golf Club in Auckland – the home of NZG, the Golf Managers Association of New Zealand (GMANZ) and the New Zealand Golf Industry Council (NZGIC). “All of the associations felt it was time to take our existing efforts in environmental stewardship and social value to the next level. We see this as vital to the long-term health of our clubs and the sport, and we also want to make a meaningful contribution to the issues that we know are of significant concern for the people of New Zealand. We are extremely grateful to GEO Foundation, whose strategic expertise and custom solutions for golf enabled us to move quickly, effectively and credibly. OnCourse New Zealand will become the engine room of club support and engagement, performance measurement and sharing many inspiring grassroots stories, that’s why New Zealand Golf is committing investment to these important issues and support for our clubs,” says Murphy.
Spencer Cooper, board member of the NZ Golf Course Superintendents Association is sure the organisation’s members will embrace the opportunity to join the OnCourse® program. Spencer commented: “This is a very exciting moment for golf in New Zealand and a tremendous reinforcement of the stewardship and care that greenkeepers try to deliver day in and day out across the country. Joining OnCourse will enable our members to review and track their practices, key performance data and highlights, which will also help them plan and deliver new and exciting projects.”
The NZ Golf Industry Council recognises the complexity of the issues around sustainability. The Council’s Chairman, Des Topp, stated: “These important issues need the whole of golf to unite in the commitment, the action and the promotion of the results. We look forward to helping coordinate and represent what this great sport does to foster nature, conserve resources and build healthy, sustainable communities across New Zealand.”
Jonathan Smith, Executive Director of GEO Foundation visited New Zealand in June and immediately recognised the strong fit between great golf, the environment and sustainability: “In so many ways, golf in New Zealand highlights the natural compatibility between golf, the environment and strong communities, and this is a tremendous foundation to push further as an example of leadership and inspiration – domestically and also internationally. We are proud to support this strengthened commitment and action”.
A lot of incredibly valuable work is being done by other partners in the sustainability space in New Zealand and Dean Murphy sees OnCourse as an extension of that. Dean concluded: “This will build upon what’s been achieved to date with initiatives such as Project Litefoot, which will continue to provide free advisory to clubs in relation to energy, materials and water conservation. Other advisers in landscape, ecology and sustainable agronomy are also lined up to help us all pull in the same direction.”
Golf courses are keen to provide healthy and sustainable facilities for the enjoyment of their communities and to be a part of the NZ government target of becoming a Carbon Zero economy by 2050.
Find out more at:
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.
PGA National Czech Republic – A sophisticated, sustainable and smart environment located in the midst of nature
PGA National Czech Republic is a new golf course which forms part of the Oaks Prague development and is due to open 9 holes and practice facility later this summer with a full 18 hole opening in summer 2020.
OAKS is a residential project which is under construction in Nebrenice, South East of Prague in the Czech Republic, which provides a sophisticated, sustainable and smart environment located in the midst of nature, but with all the conveniences of urban life.
The first phase of residential buildings and amenities will be completed in 2020. PGA National Czech Republic will be an 18-hole, Kyle Phillips Golf Course Design, golf course in the heart of the development and is one of only 8 PGA National Resorts in Europe. The course brings Kyle Philips Golf Course Design’s unique bunkering, large rolling fairways and links style characteristics to a parkland environment. The golf course weaves through mature tree lined holes and herb meadows.
PGA National Czech Republic will be operated by Troon International under their exclusive Troon Privé brand, part of the worlds largest golf management company Troon.
Jordan Fairweather, Troon Golf’s Superintendent on site explains more about the current status of the golf construction; Currently we are in phase two of the golf construction with holes 4 through 12 being shaped and seeded with final seeding on schedule to be completed by October this year. Finalising of the first phase of holes 1-3 and 13-18 will be available for play along with the driving range and short game facilities by this August and the in-house greenkeeping team are working hard to finalise grow in of the surfaces and refine them for play.
Greens are made up of a 95% sand to 5% Profile blend which provides us good control and consistency from the get-go. No organic amendments such as peat have been used. These were seeded with the creeping bent grass 007. Tees and fairways were seeded with a 50/50 Rye/Fescue mixture with 25% of the ryegrass blend being new generation “Regenerating Perennial Ryegrass” which spreads horizontally via stolons. Tees are sand specification and fairways topsoil.
All preplant fertiliser was Sustane’s 4-6-4 product which has given great benefit during the grow in stage. Some additional benefits we found using this product over other pre-plant fertilisers was the ability to apply through the hydro mulcher machines for bunkers and slopes and its ability to stick to the surface during heavy rains or slight irrigation run off on dry hard topsoil. Having signed up to the GEO Foundation as part of our drive throughout The Oaks development for sustainability and the connection to nature this product ticked all boxes as minimal loss or leaching occurred. This also reduced the need to reapply, saving man hours.
Another important part of our project was the inclusion of 7 biofilters which filter all drainage coming off the golf course, 100% capture of all drainage water being recycled back to our irrigation reservoir, the planting of 4,036 trees (6 hectares worth) and 4 hectares of wildflowers. Turf grass areas not in play or adjacent to tee grounds have been kept to hard and fine fescues to eliminate mowing and maintenance.
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.