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Deere Back at the Belfry

Deere Back at the Belfry

Only one golf course in the world can boast that it’s hosted more Ryder Cup matches than any other venue – and that’s The Belfry Hotel & Resort in North Warwickshire.

The 550-acre site is a mecca for professional and amateur players who come to play on one or more of its three stunning courses – and The Brabazon, Derby and PGA National have witnessed some of the most dramatic moments in the history of golf. So what is the secret recipe? Take the finest staff, a top quality course manager and industry leading golf course maintenance equipment backed by a first class dealer, and you can start to see why The Belfry is world famous.

Director of golf courses and estates Angus Macleod arrived from De Vere Belton Woods in 2012, and with courses head greenkeeper Jamie Brooks oversees a summer team of over 50 greenkeeping staff. He is also behind the recent purchase of a new fleet of grass cutting and ancillary equipment from local John Deere dealer Farol Ltd at Hinckley, Leicestershire – a return to the brand after Deere was official supplier to the 2002 Ryder Cup matches.

The new John Deere machines include five 260SL walk-behind greens mowers, two 2500E hybrid electric greens triple mowers, a 7200A PrecisionCut tees & surrounds mower, a 9009A rotary rough mower and a 2030A Pro Gator utility vehicle equipped with an HD200 low-profile amenity turf sprayer.

“When I arrived we were experiencing the usual problems associated with an ageing machinery fleet, particularly the increasingly high cost of parts,” says Angus. “The owners KSL gave me a budget and we agreed on a phased replacement deal over several years, starting with the mowers.

“The process began with demonstrations by the leading manufacturers and a chance for all the staff to try the machines and give me their feedback. It was an important decision and a huge investment, so making sure the staff are happy with the equipment they use is my number one priority. Whatever decision we make, it is as a team.

“There will always be issues of one kind or another with machinery, so a priority is always how are they rectified, and what do the supplying dealer and manufacturer do about it? Dealer service, parts back-up and warranty support are as important as reliability – it’s certainly not just about the price. Then we look at the technology, with an emphasis on cutting quality – I have to be comfortable with the quality of cut and course presentation overall.

“Also, with three courses to manage at The Belfry the cutting regime is intensive and demanding, and all the machines get worked very hard. We needed confirmation that the chosen equipment would manage to cope and maintain the quality course experience for our visitors.”

For the selection process Angus, Jamie and the greenkeeping staff therefore looked specifically at new rough and semi-rough mowers, ride-on and walk-behind greens mowers and utility vehicles, with John Deere’s new 9009A rough mower demonstrated by Farol’s golf sales manager Matt Gilks in particular making a big impression on the team.

“The new 9009A is an absolutely superb bit of kit, and the boys love it,” says Angus. “It has great climbing ability, it can follow the course’s turf contours better than previous machines and goes places we couldn’t go before. I like the rear roller on the cutting units and the consistency of cut.

“The cut quality and offset wheels on the 2500E hybrid greens mower are also a very good feature. Used alongside our existing TE electric Gators, particularly to maintain the areas around the hotel, means early starts are no problem as the machines are so quiet. In addition, the TechControl system on the new A Model mowers means we can set up these machines and keep them operating consistently across all three courses, so cut quality isn’t compromised.

“In recent years I believe John Deere has raised the bar with its grass cutting equipment. It was this overall combination of technology, plus the extensive choice of Gator utility vehicles and tractors available from the company, that really sealed the deal.”

Both Angus Macleod and Jamie Brooks also agree on the importance of establishing a good working relationship with the local dealer. “We’ve been really impressed with the support Farol has given us so far, including very comprehensive operator training, and this was another one of the main reasons that we leant towards John Deere in the final reckoning,” says Angus.

“We are aiming to bring back more tournaments to The Belfry in 2017 and beyond, and the machinery we use is very important for achieving this and maintaining the courses at the high standards expected of us. I think we’ve got the right kit for the job, and a lot of value from the overall deal.”

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The Austrian Greenkeeper Association (AGA) has a new president!

The Austrian Greenkeeper Association (AGA) has a new president!

From left to right; Alex HÖFINGER – vice-president, Michael HAITSZINGER – minutes secretary, Wolfgang ASCHAUER – cashier, Andreas LEUTGEB – president, Gertraud ZOPF – AGA secretary, Alex HÖFINGER – vice-president, Michael HAITSZINGER – minutes secretary, Wolfgang ASCHAUER – cashier, Andreas LEUTGEB – president, Gertraud ZOPF – AGA secretary

After 9 years has Alexander Höfinger stepped down as the president of the AGA.

During the general meeting at the AGA main conference in October in Wagrain, Salzburg, voted the members Andreas Leutgeb, former AGA vice-president, with 98% yes-votes as the new president. His and the new board’s term will last for three years.

During his 9 years as president, Alexander Höfinger, has amongst many achievements, established a website and regular newsletter for the AGA members, a progressive and communicative cooperation with the Austrian authorities for the registration and use of pesticides on golf courses, and with the ministry of labor to improve the safety standards for golf course workers and greenkeepers.

The AGA has the highest number of members (greenkeepers, companies and golf courses) since 2007 and is a financially healthy and 100% independent association.

Andreas Leutgeb has planned to expand the AGA even further and improve the quality of the continuing education for greenkeepers, as well as the communication with golf course owners and managers. Another future goal is to open the AGA for groundsman and workers from soccer clubs. “Alex has done a great job in strengthening the AGA and reaching many goals that were set in the last 9 years. My new board and myself will continue along this path and make the AGA a strong partner in this industry”, says Andreas Leutgeb.


Over 20 years of AGA presidency – Andreas LEUTGEB – current president, Alex HÖFINGER und Hein ZOPF – past presidents



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FEGGA Taking Develpment Roadshow to Bulgaria

FEGGA Taking Develpment Roadshow to Bulgaria

Friday 11th November 2016

09.00:   Arrive and check in (Tea/Coffee)

09.30:   Welcome and Introduction

Yavor Atanasov and Dean Cleaver

09.45:   Common Fungal Disease Problems; causes and management options

Dr Kate Entwistle

10.30:   R&A Scholarship

Wendy Cole (R&A)

11.00:   Refreshment Break

11.30:   Environmental Initiatives, A brief look at managing the course for Wildlife

James Hutchinson (Past R&A Scholar and now Sustainability Executive for BIGGA)

12.15:   My Experiences working at the Scandinavian Masters

Yavor Atanasov (Course Manager – Pravets Golf Club and President BGGA) 

12.45:   Lunch

13.45:   Personal Development

Dean Cleaver – Executive Officer – FEGGA

14.30:    My Experience of working at Minchinhampton Golf Club through the FEGGA Greenkeeper Experience Programme

Hristo Hristov – Pravets Golf Club

15.00:   Refreshment Break

15.15:   Invertebrate Pests and Plant Parasitic Nematodes; how to recognise them and the symptoms they cause.

Dr Kate Entwistle

16.00: Final discussion and close of Roadshow

Dean Cleaver – Executive Officer – FEGGA and Yavor Atanasov – President (BGGA)

Note:  The Conference is offered free of charge to attending delegates, and will include all refreshments during the day.

For further details regarding attending this event, please contact Yavor Atanasov at;

FEGGA is dedicated to communicate and share environmentally sustainable ideals and skills for quality golf course management


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Slovenian Greenkeepers Associations annonuce details of their 18th Conference

Slovenian Greenkeepers Associations annonuce details of their 18th Conference

For further information, please view the following links:

Full Programme: program-18th-days-of-education

Booking form: registration-form-18th-days-of-education

Hotel reservation form: reservation-form-hotel

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Kristel Mulle-Vaik, Current Chairperson of the Estonian Greenkeepers Association, and a R&A Scholar shares her recent Experiences

Kristel Mulle-Vaik, Current Chairperson of the Estonian Greenkeepers Association, and a R&A Scholar shares her recent Experiences


Kristel Mulle-Vaik (2nd from left) with her team from Niitvalja Golf Club


I wanted to share some examples of the great work that the R&A and FEGGA are doing – it could be really life changing.

Estonia is a small country (1.2 million people) but we have 8 golf courses. I´ve been a greenkeeper since 2004 and I always thought that one day it would be great to establish greenkeepers association.

The right time arrived in autumn 2013 when I was sitting in my office and was looking at the BIGGA website, suddenly I noticed that a program called GreenQampus is called in and one of the partners is one Estonian Vocational school – the purpose of the program is to develop and enable greenkeeping studies, and the program envolved 7 partners from different countries (Benesov College Czech Republic, Czech Greenkeepers Association, Kainuu College Finland, Luua Vocational Training Centre Estonia, SRUC Elmwood Campus, GT-E and the Federation of European Golf Greenkeepers Association – FEGGA).

So I thought greenkeeping studies in Estonia – great. I wrote to Luua school and as the first partners meeting took place in Estonia I was also invited to attend. And that was the day when I met Mr Dean Cleaver – Executive Officer of FEGGA – and that was really life changing for me.

We started to make plans and Dean offered that they could come back to Estonia in the springtime (2014) and with the help and support from the R&A, would run a FEGGA Roadshow here for local greenkeepers. FEGGAś and R&A´s help and support has been priceless!

In March 2014 we had the first Roadshow in Estonia, it was a 2 day event and a really big success, we had more than 60 people all together (including GreenQampus partners) and it was a really big notice that greenkeepers in Estonia are interested to educate themselves, they wanted to be recognized as greenkeepers and they want to come together.

During that event we decided (me and 4 more greenkeepers) to establish Estonian Greenkeepers Association and I became the only member of the board (no one else wanted to manage it, but there´s probably a need to be one person in the beginning).

Then the golf season started and there was less time to work with greenkeepers association especially as I was promoted to Course Manager (I was deputy head greenkeeper for the last 5 years), then I was awarded an R&A Scholarship, and in December I graduated my golf course management 3-year studies in Sruc Elmwood (distance learning). What a great year!

In January 2015 we started to make new plans to organise next event in Estonia, in the meantime FEGGA held its annual conference, which took place in Portugal in February and I was also invited there and asked to make a small presentation. I was very nervous but I was really impressed how friendly people from every European association were and how well they welcomed me – it´s like a big family and I´m very proud to be part of that family.

The time went by and we found it difficult to organise all the speakers with such a short time (my idea was to have greenkeeping event in March when there´s not high season yet) and to have FEGGA Roadshow. So instead I decided to organise it myself, of course with the support from Dean and FEGGA. I also invited Alex Höfinger from Austrian Greenkeepers Assocoiation who I met in Portugal during FEGGA Conference and Symbio.

But still it was very first event I organised from the beginning – it was quite a big challenge because there’s so many small details to think about, starting from pens etc. I also managed to find 3 sponsors and charged from each greenkeeper 5 euros. So the date was 27th of March and again – I was really, really happy to see so many greenkeepers coming together, we had 47 people! And we recieved 20 more applications to become a member.

So what I´m trying to say – never give up and follow you dreams, if something doesn´t work out then the time just wasn´t right – everything happens for a reason and when there’s the right time. It’s always good to have great contacts!

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Golf course superintendent Neil Cleverly tackles Olympic task in Brazil with sense of adventure

Golf course superintendent Neil Cleverly tackles Olympic task in Brazil with sense of adventure

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Olympic Golf Course achieves recognition from Golf Environment Organization

Olympic Golf Course achieves recognition from Golf Environment Organization

Following three years of extensive reporting, monitoring, evaluation and site visits from an independent auditor, spanning the design, construction and grow in phases of the project, The Rio Olympic Golf Course has achieved GEO Certified® Development status.

A spokesperson for the Golf Environment Organization (GEO) said: “The achievement is in recognition of the many nature conservation and resource efficiency activities undertaken to date. It takes into account the longer term net positive social and environmental impacts that the facility is set to deliver in the months and years ahead, which are framed within the management agreements.

“While this has been a complex and sensitive project, developed under tight deadlines, requiring considerable additional monitoring and evaluation from staff and the accredited, independent auditor, the work carried out by the design, construction and maintenance teams delivers against established best practices and industry standards that have been developed with input from numerous international specialists and stakeholders.

“The final outcomes are that a degraded site, that was primarily either devoid of vegetation or becoming over-run with exotic species, and potentially vulnerable to other forms of ‘harder’ development, will now be actively managed for nature conservation, local community recreation, education, and sports development by a non-profit sports body in collaboration with other local stakeholders, and guided by a robust environmental management plan.   We look forward to working with those partners and stakeholders in the project going forward to help make sure that the venue goes on to maximise its role in nature conservation, resource efficiency and innovation and community engagement.

“We are also pleased to highlight the valuable role the Rio Olympic Golf Course played in the road testing and development of a new sustainability standard for golf development, which is to be launched internationally in the near future.”

Antony Scanlon, Executive Director of the International Golf Federation (IGF), said: “The IGF is delighted that more than three years of planning, design and construction of the Reserva de Marapendi Golf Course have culminated in the course being awarded GEO Certified® Development status.

“From the start, it was imperative that this once degraded site should emphasise the biodiversity of the location while maintaining its environmentally protected status and ensuring that the risks to the indigenous species and habitat would be minimised. We believe this has been achieved successfully, and we are very proud of the fact that once the athletes leave, Rio will have a sustainable, environmentally protected setting to play an important social, educational and sporting role in the years ahead.”

Notable actions and achievements highlighted in the independent GEO Certified® Development report include:


  • 80% of the existing site had zero vegetation cover
  • Successful transplantation of more than 15,000 native plants with 95% success rate for establishment
  • Establishment of on-site plant nursery to propagate more than 475,000 plants from native seeds and stock onto the golf course site
  • Removal and control of existing exotic species
  • Overall compensation for 1.4ha of loss of reduced quality restinga habitat, with net increase in conservation managed restinga of more than 33 ha
  • Design of ‘naturalised’ golf course, creating opportunities for gradual re-colonisation by native species, and strong habitat connectivity across the site
  • Long term ecological and environmental monitoring and management plan in place and approved by local authorities
  • 167% increase in vegetation cover
  • Net increase in biodiversity reported of 118 to 263 species found on the site
  • Speedy recolonisation by rare and protected species including burrowing owl, caiman, capybara, lapwings, sandpipers and egrets
  • Comprehensive pollution prevention measures carried out across the course throughout construction and management, and integrated into the design and construction of the modern maintenance facility


  • Use of entirely on site construction materials – no extra sand or soil imported
  • Use of Zeon Zoysia and SeaDwarf Seashore Paspalum grown locally – the most drought and pest tolerant species for the site, propagated in Brazil, which also allows for lower quality irrigation water, reducing need for water treatment
  • Use of fuel efficient and hybrid maintenance machinery. All Jacobsen equipment uses GreensCare™, a 96% biodegradable hydraulic fluid made of renewable seed-oil based product
  • Clubhouse designed using passive design principles
  • Clubhouse utilisation of local, recycled and certified materials
  • 100% recycled slate quarry waste for the pathways
  • More than 90% of all construction materials were sourced from within 400Km of the site
  • Cleared exotic plants were recycled as mulch to aid transplantation operations
  • The Toro irrigation system is pressurised with the most up-to-date energy efficient pump system in order to optimise pressure and minimise energy use


  • Agreement between municipality and BGC to run the facility as the Brazilian golf centre of excellence for coaching and training – of local golfers, as well as national teams
  • The agreement establishes that the golf facility will be free-access to the public and the development and implementation of four centres:
    • An environmental education centre to increase awareness about the environment and sustainable golf development at the local schools and communities
    • A knowledge and technical centre for youth ages 14-18, to promote social inclusion through sport, in partnership with technical schools and universities, offering caddie, coach and referee development programmes and specialised vocational training in greenkeeping and sports turf, Machine Operator and environmental management
    • A high performance Golf Academy – to improve the quantity and the quality of the Brazilian players at the world ranking

A development golf centre to grow the quantity of new golf practitioners through programmes like “Golfe para a Vida” (golf for life), in partnership with public and private schools and/or other communities.

Social media For up-to-the-minute information on Olympic Golf and regular updates, please follow us on Twitter, Facebook , Instagram and YouTube

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Toro® Irrigation Supports Water Conservation on Rio’s Olympic Golf Course

Toro® Irrigation Supports Water Conservation on Rio’s Olympic Golf Course

With the 2016 international sporting event in Rio de Janeiro nearing, the game of golf will mark its historic return following a 112-year absence. As many of the world’s top golfers take to Rio’s Olympic Golf Course, The Toro Company is proud to have been chosen to provide a fully integrated irrigation system featuring the latest technologies to help save water and energy.

“We are truly honored for the opportunity to provide irrigation solutions that will help create a world-class stage for bringing golf back to the premier international competition, while supporting efforts in water conservation,” said Rick Olson, Toro’s president and chief operating officer. “Our history of serving the people of Brazil dates back to 1935 when we established our first distributor in Rio de Janeiro. We look forward to the excitement of the 2016 Games, and continuing to support the people of Brazil with the most innovative products and highest level of service.”

Located at Reserva Uno in the Rio suburb of Barra da Tijuca, the Gil Hanse-designed golf course incorporates Toro’s GDC 2-wire system with the Lynx® central control system. In addition, more than 2,200 Toro DT Series sprinklers with integrated GDC decoder modules were installed throughout the course, along more than 1,000 water-saving Precision™ Series spray nozzles on bunker complexes. The irrigation system also includes Toro’s state-of-the-art Turf Guard® wireless soil monitoring system, positioned throughout the course to help the grounds team monitor turf health and more precisely apply water where it is needed.

“As superintendent of an environmentally sensitive golf course, it is very important that we are able to put the right amount of water on the course when and where we need it,” explained Neil Cleverly, head superintendent at the Olympic Golf Course. “Toro’s Lynx system allows us to have precise and accurate control to use our water resources most efficiently.”

“The Turf Guard sensors also help us manage other variables like soil moisture, temperature and salinity on our course. We can then use this information to more precisely deliver water and other product applications. This not only helps us better manage our resources, but also helps save money.”

Helping course superintendents achieve precise control and best manage irrigation system components, Toro’s Lynx software communicates with everything from the sprinkler GDC modules to the weather station to the Turf Guard sensors. Information is then plotted on an interactive map for a detailed view of the course. This enables the grounds crew to analyze course conditions and make adjustments in irrigation schedules and other applications; ultimately, resulting in reduced water and energy use.

Toro golf irrigation products

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In Memoriam of Jari Laitinen

In Memoriam of Jari Laitinen

Jari Laitinen, Vice-president of the Finnish Greenkeepers’ Association, passed away at the age of 48 on 23 May, 2016. Jari was a longstanding member of the board of the FGA and worked as Head Greenkeeper at Tuusula Golf Club in southern Finland for 13 years. He was passionate about developing the greenkeeping industry in Finland and actively participated in renewing the curriculum and qualifications together with the Finnish National Board of Education.

Greenkeeping, education, and professionalism were always very close to Jari’s heart, leading him to qualify as a greenkeeping examiner on the national level. His ambition to develop his own expertise led him to participate in many educational opportunities both in Finland and abroad. BTMIHarrogate, FEGGA conferences and national seminars were all of interest to Jari. During the winter months Jari wanted to develop his professional skills and network with other greenkeeping professionals by travelling abroad to volunteer on greenkeeping or construction teams on golf courses in the UK and France. Jari’s sudden and untimely death is a great loss to the Finnish greenkeeping industry. His family, the FGA, and many friends throughout Europe will miss his great and open-minded personality. May he rest in peace.


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The Koro Field Top Maker promotes new growth at Rio Olympic Golf Course

The Koro Field Top Maker promotes new growth at Rio Olympic Golf Course

Golf has been reintroduced to the Olympic Games for Rio 2016 when some of the games top names will represent their countries on the course after a 114 year absence from one of the biggest sporting events in the world.

In 2013 Marcelo Matte’s company Green Grass Brazil started growing the grass for the new Olympic course at Barra da Tijuca in Rio. In 2014 they purchased a Koro Field Top Maker (FTM) with Universe® Rotor to maximise the harvesting of sprigs for transplanting.

Turf was grown using two grass species, Zeon Zoysia and SeaDwarf Seaside Paspalum which are both drought tolerant with the latter also saltwater tolerant, a big advantage due to the varying qualities of water used to irrigate.

All of the grass was grown at Marcelo’s turf farm in Brazil and it was here that the Universe® Rotor really came into its own when it was used to harvest the Paspalum sprigs that would be planted as live material on the greens of the 85-acre course.

“The Universe® Rotor is very precise in the way it works; it means we can set it to produce smaller and better sprigs. The consistency of the machine resulted in the number collected per acre being double our normal rate because it cuts the size of the sprig in half, giving us more to plant on the course,” said Marcelo.

The vigorous root, stolon and rhizome production nature of Zeon is perfect for the efficient action of the Koro FTM’s Universe® Rotor and its ability to be adjusted to the ideal working height to produce fantastic results on both cool and warm season grasses. In fact the successful harvesting of the sprigs even exceeded Marcelo’s expectations.

“Most people did not believe we could make it on time, but the grow in was so good that the course was ready almost six months ahead of schedule. This is thanks to the good spreading habit of Zeon and excellent sprig harvesting rate of the Koro.

As well as the Paspalum sprigs for the greens Zeon has also been used on the tees, roughs and fairways and has low fertiliser requirements and grows a dense high-quality playing surface that make it difficult for weeds to grow.

This is a crucial benefit of the species because herbicides are unable to be used until permission has been granted.

Marcelo has 20 members of staff to install the grass on the course as well as guidance from David Doguet, the American turf grass breeder from Bladerunner Farms who is responsible for developing Zeon to be used on golf courses and other areas.

For the full range of equipment from Campey Turf Care Systems visit www.campeyturfcare.comFor the full range of equipment from Campey Turf Care Systems visit

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