The Ohio State Program 2012-2013
Just over five years ago I made the decision to start my career as a sportsturf Greenkeeper. Without having any previous Greenkeeping experience, my first challenge saw me jetting off to the United States of America to be a part of The Ohio State Program. I represented the program on a 12 month internship where Michael O’Keeffe (Intern Program Manager) situated me on two different golf courses to manage cool season and warm season grass species in order to help my career development.
The first part of the internship started at Saucon Valley Country Club in Pennsylvania. Situated on 850 acres, the golf club boasts three parkland championship courses (Old, Grace and Weyhill) which have been ranked in the 100 courses in the USA and consistently ranked in the top 10 in Pennsylvania. I started working on the Old Course which was designed by British architect Herbert Strong in 1920. The U.S amateur (1951), U.S junior amateur (1983), U.S senior amateur (1987), two U.S senior opens (1992 & 2000) and most recently the U.S Women’s Open (2009) have been held on this prestigious golf course. The membership demands are very high.
I came across several challenges whilst working at Saucon Valley. One of these challenges was the climate which contained a high altitude of heat and humidity. This is something I had never experienced before in the UK. Temperatures rising from 30-38˚c with 70-90% humidity tested my ability to work under these conditions. We had to work hard to keep the course alive with hand watering techniques on pure bentgrass greens, fairways, tees and approaches under the climatic conditions. We worked from 11am till sundown to keep the cultivar alive throughout days of heat stress. During my time at the golf club I was fortunate enough to learn to use different types of equipment such as pedestrian & ride on machinery, spraying fertilisers, fungicides, insecticides, herbicides and wetting agents, tee set up, aerating greens (hollow coring & pencil tining), top dressing and so much more. I was working 90-100 hour weeks including weekends to meet the golf course demands and make sure it was of a high standard for members. My boss at the time told me “you will learn more with all the time you put in”, He was certainly right and all of the knowledge and experience gained there enabled me to prepare myself for my next adventure.
The second part of the internship took place in Naples Florida at The Club at Mediterra. This is another private membership club which is limited to 450 members and consists of two parkland 18 hole golf courses (North & South) designed by the well-known American architect Tom Fazio. When I arrived at the club both golf courses were going under major construction. During the construction process both courses were closed whilst they re-turfed certain tees & fairways, replaced bunkers & improved and replaced irrigation to benefit the layout of the two courses in the future.
It was safe to say that the work undertaken was very challenging as membership demands were high so they needed to get the courses open on time. During my time at the club I also volunteered for the PGA tour’s Northern Trust Open event at the Riviera Country Club located in Los Angeles. To my surprise I was selected to hand mow greens which was a big responsibility. In the evening my duties were to hand roll greens (if needed) and divot the fairways. The experience gained from this event was very valuable to me and something I will never forget. I am very thankful to the director (Frank Heery) at Mediterra for letting me get involved during the busy times at the golf club.
St Andrews Links Trust 2013-2015
After an enjoyable year working in America, the opportunity arose for me to work as a Seasonal Greenkeeper at the home of golf, St Andrews Links Trust (SALT) for three seasons. To work at this prestigious links venue was a great honour. I was situated on The Old Course for two seasons and my last season on the Eden Course which was created by no other than Old Tom Morris. It was a great experience to work on a golf course that had a sustainable approach to manage the fescue surfaces with cultural techniques which included fertilising & wetting agent applications to light top dressing on the sand based surfaces. During my time at SALT I was fortunate enough to work at major events such as The Women’s Open 2013 and The Open Championship 2015
Qualifications, Achievements & the Future
Whilst working at SALT I decided the time was right to gain some sports turf qualifications. As my knowledge of golf courses was quite weak, I needed to build on this, and therefore I decided to take the HNC & HND in Golf Course and Sportsurf Management at the SRUC Elmwood College. Completing these qualifications enabled me to successfully become an R&A scholar and achieve the SRUC Student of The year 2015 award. After I finished the HND, I decided to take the challenge and proceed with the BSc (hons) degree in Sportsturf Science & Management at Myerscough College where I graduated with a 2:1.
Since graduating I have managed to secure a full time job as an Assistant Greenkeeper at well credited Golf Club. I would now like to concentrate on gaining more hands on experience and have set myself targets to eventually work my way up the management ladder.
Here James, Assistant Greenkeeper on the Brabazon Course at the Belfry shares his unique opportunity to experience two tournaments in England and France during a memorable two weeks
Monday 19th June 2017 – Icons of football tournament week is finally here. Months of hard work from the team have come down to this one week. Making sure every piece of detail is done to make the course stand out as a top class venue. Today sees the TV towers being built behind every green, seeing this is quite strange on your home course. Exciting times, as its starting to feel like a big event is approaching.
Tuesday 20th – Lots of other companies are arriving on site now and what was your own course is starting to feel like someone else’s now. Lots of other people around building TV structures, hospitality areas. One of the first frustrations of the week is that all these people don’t tend to treat the course as you do and drive where they want and do what they want to get their job done. All these areas you have been protecting from golf traffic and general wear get damaged within a couple of days. A necessity of the job I suppose but frustrating none the less. The main stand behind the 18th green is starting to be constructed. It is some feature and you can sense what it’s going to feel like when its fully constructed. On the course we start the work on the bunkers, Fly-mowing the surrounds and edging them. Keeping on top of the weeds and moving sand around to maintain the levels.
Wednesday 21st – TV towers, corporate hospitality, marquee and the stand behind 18 are well under way now and structurally almost complete. You definitely can feel the Brabazon is a tournament course now. Condition wise, Director of Golf Course and Estates Angus Macleod and Head Greenkeeper Jamie Wade are happy we are where they need to be the day before the tournament starts. The weather is a real challenge at the moment and the irrigation system is being tested to its limits. A lot of hand watering is being carried out to keep on top of the dry areas. Fairway drain lines and some tees are slightly burning up, so big efforts are being made to keep on top of them. Today has seen the spectator post and rope being put in. Again this is strange to see on your own course. For some of the lads that have been here a while it brings back memories of the British Masters and Ryder Cups so it’s good to hear stories from them.
Thursday 22nd –The rough is growing like there’s no tomorrow. Trying to keep on top of it and the post and rope are making this a challenge as its now in the way for the guys out on the rough mowers. In general it is now pretty much up to tournament spec and some last bits of detail are being finished off just to add more definition to the course. Angus and Jamie are after a bit more speed out of the greens so an evening cut with groomers in to keep a check on some unwanted seed heads is done. Tournament jobs are handed out and I’m excited to be given the main putting green, the famous 10th and 18th as well as 15 and 16 to cut during the match days. Cannot wait for the morning now for the first of the tournament days with the ProAm. The long shifts of the previous week are starting to make us feel the tiredness a bit but once the tournament buzz starts I’m sure that tired feeling will be gone.
Friday 23rd – First day of the Icons Tournament is here. Everyone arrives in good spirits raring to go. Morning briefing is quite brief and simple everyone is already aware of their jobs and just a gentle reminder to make sure everyone stays focussed and keep the already high standards set. It’s quite strange to see your home course now fully set up for a big tournament, all the tees are finished with the advertising boards and finally the Audemars Piguet clocks being put into place. The weather has remained kind to us, still challenging with the prolonged dry spells but nicer than working in the cold rain! The green speed is pretty much where it’s needed to be for the tournament proper so an evening cut again to keep the seed heads under control and the speed where we want it to be is required. Had some great feedback from the players. Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke were both complimentary about the course which is great news for us. End of day 1 and we can all leave happy.
Saturday 24th – A 3:45 alarm call again, ready for a 5am start and a team briefing. Today is the first day of the actual tournament so a bit of excitement is in the air as the team gathers in the morning. Weather is sunny and warm again so nice to be out working so early, however it’s a nightmare to see the lines on the greens on certain holes. The morning set up goes really well again and without issue. The greens are performing well but with the hot dry weather another cut in between sessions is changed to just a roll to ease the stress of them a bit but maintain speed. Holes are also changed and any bunkers that have been used are raked ready for the afternoon. Fairway divoting is also carried out to keep the detail up and to prevent any chance of a players ball landing in a divot.
Sunday 25th – The Final day is here and the week has flown by so quick. A 5am start again to get our jobs completed, however for the singles matches today the tee time is slightly later so pressure is off very slightly today to be completed early on. Everyone is well up to speed with their jobs by now and we actually got the jobs wrapped up quicker than the previous two days as a result, and everything went smoothly. A staff BBQ and a few drinks followed our setup as our part in the tournament is now complete, course looks in great shape again shame the sun is not fully out today to show it off properly to the cameras. The feedback from the players again is fantastic and it’s a relief that all our hard work has gone down well.
Straight from The Belfry and it’s to Birmingham airport for a 1pm flight to Paris to the next part of my two week stint in tournament mode. This time I am going to Le Golf National for the HNA Open de France, a European Tour Rolex Series event. The journey went smoothly until we hit the chaos of the Paris ring roads being gridlocked. Just over two hours from leaving Charles de Gualle airport having met up with David Mclaren from Gleneagles, we finally arrived onsite at Le Golf National for a welcome party and meet the home crew and other volunteers. A few beers and BBQ. Later we headed to our hotel for the week to get sorted out and a welcome early night for the week ahead.
Monday 26th – A 4am alarm call to get ready for the first day of the French open week. 4:45 and all the volunteers and home crew assemble for the first morning meeting. The briefing and for the rest of the week was held by Golf Courses and Estates Manager Alejandro Reyes and his deputy Lucas who welcomed us to Le Golf National and went through all the information we needed about the golf course and how they wanted us to go about moving around the site in order to preserve all of their hard work leading up to the tournament. Also with us first thing was Paul Armitage, General Manager of Le Golf National to give us a welcome and thank us for volunteering for their tournament.
This morning I was put on the bunker team. The morning session was all about getting up to speed with how they would like the bunkers preparing for the week. This was not only the players first day of practice, but ours also!
The evening session was back into the bunkers but this time they were completely smooth raked the bases trampled by foot to give more compaction to the already nice and firm sand.
Tuesday 27th – the same as every day the morning meeting started at 4:45, and today gave us a briefing on how yesterday went. As expected the set up was a bit slower to what was needed for the actual tournament and Wednesdays ProAm. This was just a case of most of the volunteering crew not being up to speed yet with travelling around the site and new and different equipment to use. The good news was the quality was pretty much as it needed to be with just a few details to be picked up on through practice and understanding of the task in hand. This morning was into the bunkers to set them up for day two of the practice rounds, exactly the same as yesterday –smooth rake the sides for compaction and then tine rake the middle lightly. There was a definite difference in speed today of everyone. The bunker team leader decided that It was best to split the team up so that the front and back 9 holes were split and I was asked to be front 9 team leader which was great and nice to be given acknowledgment for the previous day’s work.
The evening session started with a team briefing to let everyone know what stage the staff and the course was at. The morning set up went without any problems and the speed although not quite there yet had picked up greatly.
Le Golf National the previous week had experienced like me in the UK unusually high temperatures and with that came the pressure on the irrigation system and the irrigation technicians themselves. Greens being hand watered was as a morning and nightly job, all the while taking moisture meter readings to keep them between the 15-20% required by the tour and that was certainly a challenge for the guys on that job as it was drying out as fast as it was going on.
Wednesday 28th – This morning saw the first morning of me being front 9 bunker team leader and I don’t mind admitting I was a bit nervous about it. Not only was I thinking I need to make sure everything is perfect but also some of the people on my team worked for Le Golf National, how would they feel about some random guy turning up and potentially telling them to rake the bunker again! Thankfully that only happened a couple of times and they were fine. I did think to myself though who would I prefer to get the wrap from one of the staff or Alejandro and Lucas, I chose the former. Splitting the team worked fantastically we covered 18 holes quicker and easier and the main bunker team leader was very happy, so a job well done and some relief!
The evening session saw us back out on the bunkers to firm up and smooth rake the bases of the greenside bunkers, a single plugged ball lead to this, which goes to show the level of detail they go to in order to make the players happy and the tournament a success. The remainder of the evening saw us divotting the fairways with green sand, and then back to base for some evening food, a well earned beer and some even more well earned sleep!
Thursday 29th – The first tournament day is here and the crew gather nice and early for our briefing. Today the golf course architect Hubert Chesneau is here to wish the team good luck, something he does every year apparently, which is a nice touch. Everyone’s jobs have remained pretty much the same. The weather has noticeably cooled down today, which I think is a bit of a relief for Alejandro and Lucas with the greens being so dry for so long, that side of the pressure has eased slightly I would imagine. Myself and the rest of the front 9 bunker team have a good setup, everything goes smoothly and we are done in great time. It’s a strange feeling the first day of the actual tournament, nothing really changes at all, the task ahead is the same as its been the rest of the week but I think because it’s the actual tournament now there is a focus on leaving no stone unturned in delivering a great set up. There is no second chance or make sure it’s better tomorrow, now is the real deal and I think for that reason it feels different. Back to the maintenance facility everyone heads in one group which is pretty good to see, breakfast is ready and waiting for us like it has been the last few days and I’m sure as hard as I’ve been working, the croissants and pan au chocolates I’ve been having for breakfast are starting to show, who cares back to normal next week! The morning debrief is positive and some good feedback is received. We are to meet back up again at 6pm for the evening shift but in the meantime me and another volunteer go off for a coffee and sit down in the players’ lounge and then off to watch some of the golf for the afternoon in between a quick photo with the Ryder Cup and a very quick moment on TV. Back to the evening shift and it’s a slight change in jobs for me, as much as being on the grass bins for the fairway mowers is slightly boring it’s a chance for a bit of rest from the hard work of raking bunkers. 10pm soon came and time for some tea back in the maintenance facility provided by our catering truck and then back to the hotel and a quick beer with the lads before heading to bed.
Friday 30th – 5 am start again and a morning briefing, and information on the days forecast is not so great. A large amount of rain is forecast and the potential for an electrical storm and it certainly delivered; time to see what the new drainage system installed is made of in a tournament. The rain came down hard and for a good couple of hours, 18 of us where placed on standby ready to go out and push water when needed but that time never arrived, slightly puddling up on some fairways occurred but nothing to worry about. Play was actually suspended for a while as lightening was above us. The drainage system certainly did its job and even more impressive were the bunkers, no washouts, no flooding out. The capillary concrete did its job perfectly much to the relief of Alejandro. It actually took just 30 minutes to get the course back into near as perfect condition as it could be for play to start again, very impressive to say the least.
6pm arrived quickly today and due to the rain, fairways and greens were not cut, just a touch up of bunkers and some fairway divotting and a relatively early finish and back to the hotel for a well received early night.
Saturday 1st July – 5 am start again today, but with the added bonus of a slightly later tee off times as the field of players had now been cut, so a little less pressure to get set up in time. I can’t believe how dry the course is after so much rain we had yesterday. Yet more rain is expected today, not as much as yesterday and no threat of lightening. We are again on standby until 13:30 today to be safe with the rain coming down and again no problems, the drainage here is unreal. Back at the hotel for a much needed afternoon sleep before heading back to the course for the evening shift. This evening I was hand cutting greens which was such a fantastic experience especially getting to cut the 18th in front of a fair few people. This was definitely a highlight of my week and one I will remember forever. Hopefully there will be many more times like this, but as my first time, it’s one I will never forget.
Sunday 2nd – The last day of the tournament is here and the week has flown by. Thankfully today the forecast is great although an unexpected shower during the morning set up was not brilliant. I was back hand cutting greens for the final day, shame it was in the pouring rain but it soon stopped and after breakfast we headed out to the course to watch some of the final days play and later on watch the final groups come down 18 and a chance for all the support staff to go onto the green to watch the winner be presented with his trophy and a photo with him. Such an amazing experience being on the 18th green, being so close to it all going on it was a great end to the week, getting the best view in the house was well deserved by everyone there. Afterwards it was time to relax have a few drinks and some food. We all went to the main bar in the club house where some of the players, caddies and officials were doing the same thing it was another surreal experience getting involved and was just a great way to end the week. Onto the French Golf Federations hospitality suit for a champagne reception and some words from their President; Jean-Lou Charon, thanking everyone for their work and efforts over the past week and also from Thomas Levet who had some nice words to say, also thanking everyone for what they had done to make the week a success.
I can honestly say these last two weeks have been hard work, with late nights and early mornings and running on pretty much adrenaline alone, but what an experience it’s been. I have learnt so much to take away and help me go forward in my career. Working on a tournament at your home club is fantastic, it’s great to be a part of the process in delivering a great course and what I have learnt is going to be so valuable when I one day hopefully have my own course to manage.
I have met some fantastic people and new friends to keep in touch with. Volunteering for a big tournament, I say to anyone thinking of doing it, to do it. Its hard work and the long days catch up with you on your return but it’s worth it so much. I cannot wait to do it again.
This week Royal Birkdale will host The Open for the 10th time, taking it to joint second in the list of most used venues on the current Open rota.
As the world’s most prestigious golf tournament arrives in Lancashire, the course will once again have been prepared by a team of highly-trained greenkeepers who are counted among the almost 6,000 members of the British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association.
He said: “I can’t deny that expectations are higher than ever. But preparations have been smooth so far, and we’re confident of presenting the course in a better condition than ever before. Let’s just hope we get the weather to allow us to show off everything Royal Birkdale has to offer.”
This will be Chris’ fifth Open, having prepared the course for the event twice before, in 1998 and 2008, and also at Muirfield in 1992. His first Open experience was as Deputy Course Manager for the 1974 Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
Supporting the home team during the Open itself will be a team of over 50 BIGGA members, drawn from clubs all over the UK and further afield, who have volunteered their time freely and will be on hand to assist with duties such as bunker raking.
Additionally, BIGGA members across the country have worked hard to prepare their courses for Regional and Final Open Qualifying competitions in the build up to this week’s main event.
The BIGGA Volunteer Support Team is invaluable to us,” said Chris. With their help I can be confident that everything out on the course is under control, allowing the home team to undertake all the duties that come with hosting a Major tournament.
Each year the R&A requests the assistance of BIGGA members with hosting the championship, meaning BIGGA members have witnessed some of the greatest duels in golf first hand.
During The Open you can keep track of what’s going on out on the course by following @BIGGALtd and using the hashtag #BIGGASupportTeam.
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.”
Support Team Opportunity for Greenkeepers at the forthcoming Czech Masters – 28th August – 3rd September 2017
Ben Lovett, Superintendent at the Albatross Golf Resort in Prague, Czech Republic is looking for Tournament Support Volunteers for the 2017 Czech Masters. In total Ben is looking for 20-30 volunteers, all with a minimum of three years’ greenkeeper experience.
This is a great opportunity for greenkeepers to experience all aspects of tournament set-up, and procedures du…ring the event, and under the leadership of the experienced Ben Lovett.
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.”
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.”