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.
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.
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.”
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.”
Jacobsen, a Textron Specialized Vehicles brand, has announced the renewal of its long standing global partnership to advance sustainability across golf with GEO (Golf Environment Organization).
GEO, the international not-for-profit organisation dedicated to sustainability in golf, provides practical tools and expert support to help golf unlock and celebrate its social and environmental value.
“As a Founding Partner in the highly valuable work GEO undertakes, we are thrilled to be able to demonstrate 10 years of commitment to golf and sustainability,” said Andre Andrade, director, international golf sales for Textron Specialized Vehicles Inc., which designs and manufactures Jacobsen equipment.
“As the only international supplier of turf equipment to hold the coveted ISO 14001 standard for our Environmental Management System, and as a leader in fuel-efficient and hybrid machinery coupled with our efforts to prioritise recycling on-site, we are extremely proud to be able to demonstrate our commitment to the environment as well as having our name alongside GEO,” Andrade said.
“As a direct result of this we know just how important a sustainable business approach is to our customer’s reputations and profitability, as well as long term industry growth,” he said.
“From the start, Jacobsen have shown truly unique and outstanding leadership and commitment to support golf, and other sports and amenity sectors in this field,” said GEO CEO Jonathan Smith. “It continually goes above and beyond, whether it’s in its own internal operations and innovation, or in education, capacity building and solutions. We are very proud to be able to represent them as a founding partner, and look forward to continuing to drive sustainability results with them on the ground around the world of golf.”
The announcement was made at the BTME in Harrogate in January which both Jacobsen and GEO attended.
Tom Watson famously said of the Old Course at Ballybunion Golf Club in south-west Ireland: “It is a course you will always enjoy and never tire of playing. I know I never will. Ballybunion is a course on which many golf architects should live and play before they build golf courses. I consider it a true test of golf.”
The Old Course at Ballybunion – ranked by 2016Golf.com at #17 in the Top 100 golf courses in the world – has been subject to a complete renovation of the greens and surrounds under the stewardship of course manager John Bambury, together with course architect Graeme Webster and construction firm Atlantic Golf Construction, which was achieved in under 16 weeks.
This was designed to replace the old poa annua surfaces with 100 per cent fine fescue greens, which were mapped and reconstructed to appear exactly the same as they were before. At the same time course manager John Bambury, who arrived in October 2014 from Trump International Aberdeen, reviewed the equipment at both the Old and Cashen courses, much of which was at the end of its usable life.
“Really I was coming back to my roots, as my father use to live just 15 minutes away from Ballybunion and it was the first golf course I ever set foot on as a child,” says John. “In my job interview I said the course needed to reclaim its top 10 position in the world, and we’ve developed plans to achieve this over time, with the full approval of the membership.
“A key element of this was the reconstruction project, and we have also reinvested in the machinery fleet after conducting the usual tender process. As a result, John Deere and dealer Seamus Weldon of Killarney were selected as the preferred supplier to Ballybunion for 10 years.
“I wanted to get the club onto a sustainable fleet management and replacement programme, and you can’t really do that properly over five years, particularly with the initial need to replace a lot of the older machines. We know what the expenditure will be over this extended period, and this helps the club to budget accordingly.
“It’s a comprehensive fleet and we have chosen all the key machines John Deere has to offer the golf course.” These include the new A Model fairway, rough and surrounds mowers, walk-behind and ride-on greens mowers including hybrid electric triplex machines, Gator utility vehicles, compact and utility tractors from 35 to 75hp and amenity turf sprayers.
“There were a number of reasons for the choice,” says John. “Obviously the quality of the equipment, which is a given, but primarily the local dealer service and support is a very important part of the equation. I’ve always maintained this doesn’t end the day the kit is delivered, and we know we can call Mike Weldon at the dealership if a problem arises and he’ll get it sorted, which is absolutely vital.
“One of the other big focuses of the reconstruction project was the replanting and regeneration of the dunes, and as part of this we planted and hydroseeded 10,000m2 of marram grasses last winter. There were also a lot of hard core pathways on the course, which are not as pleasing as grass, so we’ve been replacing and installing 4m wide grass pathways across the course as we go. The John Deere 7200A PrecisionCut triplex mower is perfect for cutting these, and works very well in this environment.
“The 7500A fairway mowers also really work a treat. We keep cutting heights to between 8 and 10mm, and with four-wheel drive and a special conversion to run on smooth tyres, these machines work very well on our undulating terrain. It’s a very challenging environment for mowing, especially when the fescue grass is dry, but they work particularly well in these conditions without marking.
“The new TechControl feature is great too – the operators know a lot more about it than I do, but it helps produce a consistently high quality finish and maximises productivity across the course in all conditions.”
Ballybunion is a very busy golf course, with the biggest membership in Ireland plus high levels of overseas visitors during the playing season, so good time management of the course maintenance operation is critical. “The 7500A mowers have proved to be able to cover a great deal of the surface area quickly,” says John. “We have around 600 acres of grounds to manage across both 18-hole courses, so this ability is crucial.
“The course is well known for its history and landscape – management decisions are therefore based on what will be the lasting legacy, not what might seem the best short-term solution. We need to deliver the goal of quality all the time, and that’s always our main focus.”
The British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association will be opening its doors on Thursday 2 March to welcome representatives of the amenity horticulture sector across Yorkshire.
The latest meeting of the Amenity Forum will be held at BIGGA’s headquarters, at Aldwark Manor, near York.
Those attending the Updating Event will hear presentations on subjects including integrated weed control approaches, effective use of sprayers, and the importance of regular up-to-date training.
Jim Croxton, CEO of BIGGA, said: “BIGGA is a strong supporter of the Amenity Forum which does an excellent job of representing our sector and strives to ensure good practice is prevalent and recognised. This is vital in the current situation with changes to pesticide legislation and the removal of products used by many turf professionals.
“I’m delighted that we’re able to welcome industry experts and a number of delegates from around Yorkshire to our headquarters at BIGGA House, and I’m sure it will be a great day of education.”
Professor John Moverley, independent chairman of the Amenity Forum, said: “We believe these Updating events are important and are an essential element for us in promoting good practice and the professionalism of this vital amenity sector which impacts on the lives of every UK citizen.”
The events are being held across the UK and are free to attend and open to anyone with an interest in weed, pest and disease management.
The Amenity Forum is an independent non-profit body bringing together professional organisations with an involvement in the amenity sector.
Following meeting in Yorkshire, further events will take place in London, Northern Ireland, Cheshire, Essex, Surrey, Devon, Edinburgh. The final Updating Event will take place in Durham on 12 April.
For more information visit www.amenityforum.co.uk
Over 400 golf club officials, golf course operators and developers attended two successful Sustainability in Golf seminars staged by The R&A in Japan and Korea this week.
A panel of leading international and local experts addressed the delegates on best practice in sustainability to encourage responsible and practical golf facility development, renovation and course management.
The expert speakers included Steve Isaac (Director – Sustainability, The R&A) Dr Micah Woods (Chief Scientist, Asian Turfgrass Center), Paul Jansen (Owner of Jansen Golf Course Design & Construction), Jonathan Smith (Chief Executive, Golf Environment Organization), Bill Coore (Partner, Coore & Crenshaw), Dr Choi Joon-Soo (Professor of Turfgrass Science, Dankook University) and Yoon Kyung Ho (Golf Course Superintendent, Jack Nicklaus Golf Club of Korea).
Dominic Wall, Director – Asia-Pacific at The R&A, said, “Sustainability in golf is an important consideration for The R&A and we are committed to supporting the adoption of best practice by golf facilities throughout the region.
“We are working with our affiliates around the world to raise awareness of golf’s responsibility to the environment and communities. The seminars were excellent opportunities to share expert knowledge and experience among the delegates.”
The seminars demonstrated sustainability solutions which are helping golf clubs to make improvements in their day to day operations while also generating discussion on golf course and club management, golf course renovation and development and tournament staging.
The events were supported by the Japan Golf Association and Korea Golf Association and follow on from the success of similar seminars in China and Thailand last year.
Andy Yamanaka, Executive Director of the Japan Golf Association, added, “I believe that everyone who attended will return to their home clubs, companies and businesses with a greater appreciation of sustainability and ideas to share with their fellow members and colleagues. We are committed to working on sustainability and helping as many people as possible to understand its importance.”
t the recent FEGGA Conference held at the Quinta da Marinha in Portugal, FEGGA Members unanimously elected Kamil Pecenka as its new Chairman. Kamil, of the Czech Republic and vice chairman for the past four years takes on this new role for an initial period of two years. Kamil said “he was delighted to be taking over the position from Olafur Por Agustsson, a position that Olly did for four years, and as a board member for 10 years in total. Olly did a great job over the four years, overseeing some very positive initiatives during his term”
Kamil Pecenka will be supported by Paul Worster as the new incoming Vice chairman. Paul is currently Course Manager at Minchinhampton Golf Club, and past Chairman of BIGGA.
FEGGA Members also welcomed new board member Rauna Pietarila, Course Manager at Laukaa Peurunka Golf Club, and Board Member of the Finnish Greenkeepers Association. Rauna, always known as Emmi is also a past FEGGA Scholarship student, attending the Polaris Excellence Award Programme. Emmi said she was really looking forward to serving on the board with fellow members.
Fellow board members, Darko Cecelja, Slovenia, Joel Nunes, Portugal also continue as FEGGA board members, along with Erich Steiner who serves as the Patron Representative on the FEGGA board.
Fellow board members, Darko Cecelja, Slovenia, Joel Nunes, Portugal also continue as FEGGA board members, along with Erich Steiner who serves as the Patron Representative on the FEGGA board.
FEGGA board, From left to right: Paul Worster (vice chairman- UK) Joel Nunes (Portugal) Erich Steiner (Patron Representative) Dean Cleaver (Executive officer) Kamil Pecenka (Czech Republic – Chairman) Darko Cecelja (Slovenia) Emmi Pietarila (Finland)
Quinta da Marinha was the venue for 21 Greenkeeper Associations to gather for what was two days of energised seminars and discussions, focused on many of the pertinent industry issues we are challenged with today. It was also challenging the representatives with Meeting Expectations in terms of golf today. The Conference was also attended by many of the leading industry and golf organisations, who equally played a significant role in ensuring that Golf and the supporting industries were well represented.
The subjects focused on, can be divided into four sessions, these including Sustainable Focus, Responsible Golf Course Management, Education and Greenkeeper Experience Programmes, and Managing your Association. It certainly reflects well on our delegates, in how they presented on these subjects, and the knowledge that exists to determine the successful outcomes that were achieved, and this being backed up by the survey that took place immediately following the Conference.
The industry engaged in a series of workshop sessions that focussed on further developing the document that was launched last year by FEGGA “Responsible Golf Course Management”. The document has already received global recognition, but this can only continue if its content remains relevant, and in a format, that provides benefits in how it can be used. The revised changes that will be incorporated will serve to ensure this happens in the future, and allows FEGGA, its Member Associations, and Partners to all gain from its use.
FEGGA continues to do more in bringing people and organisations together, and through its Greenkeeper Experience programmes have been able to enable valuable experiences for greenkeepers in many different Countries. It was very inspiring to hear of some of these experiences from the greenkeepers who presented on their experiences at the Conference, and how it has helped them with the development of their careers.
FEGGA’s role is all about working with its Members Associations, assisting new associations, providing support, sharing information and resources, and this enables them to become better in providing services for their own members. The FEGGA Session “Managing Your Association” focused on a selection of topics, all relevant to today’s needs as expressed by associations. These focused on Stress at Work, and what associations are doing to support this ever-increasing problem. It also focused on Continuous Personal Development, and how associations are using this as a valuable tool to engage with members. This session also allowed The Turf Managers Association of South Africa to share what they are doing as an association, what their challenges are, and what they are keen to develop to enhance the role as Greenkeepers/Course Managers in South Africa. Again, its proved, that we might be separated by thousands of miles, but we all have similar challenges, but all share the same passion and desire to make our profession stronger in supporting the game of Golf.