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The Slovenian Greenkeepers Association is now already well known in our industry, not because they are one of the smallest associations in FEGGA, but because of the good work they are engaging in and because of their educational conference they operate every year.

This year it was already 18th in a row, held in the great location of Bled in Slovenia on 15th and 16th November. Bled is not just famous because of their delicious crème cake which you can enjoy beside the magical lake, but also because of the island with a church situated in the middle of the lake guarded by a wonderful castle nearby. 

Great program with excellent speakers attracted 70 participants from 9 different countries to attend their conference. Among the participants there were also two new association chairman’s, chairman of Austrian Greenkeepers Association Andreas Leutgeb and Tomasz Klimza chairman of the Polish Greenkeepers Association. Also Present, were the chairman of the Hungarian greenkeepers Association Gyorgy Major, a big group of greenkeepers from Czech Republic lead by Kamil Pečenka (vice chairman of FEGGA), there were participants from Italy, Croatia, Romania and even a greenkeeper from Spain, not forgetting that almost all of the Slovenian golf courses signed at least one of their greenkeepers to the two-day event.


Tom Malehorn Presenting

All together 9 speakers did an excellent job, coming from the United States despite their busy schedules. Dr. Pat Vittum from the University of Massachusetts, her specialty is turf entomology and she explained to us all about insects to which our golf courses are becoming more vulnerable and explained many of the cultural strategies to reduce them. Tom Malehorn, representing Aquatrols talked to us about water management and why soil surfactants are important in reducing diseases and usage of water on golf courses. Matt Shaffer director of golf course operations on the amazing golf course Merion talked about preparations they used for the US Open in 2013 and about the major changes that were made when he started to work at Merion.  With us was also Brian Palmer from Shoreacres golf course in Chicago, from United Kingdom Paul Worster a FEGGA board member and golf course manager at Minchinhampton. Paul Worster gave an interesting presentation about bunkers and how much money is spent in maintaining them, and he showed us many good examples where we can save money. From Austria came Barry B. Britton who is working as an agronomist at Engelmann Turf Management and also Stephan Breisach, owner of Turf Handels. The last two speakers of the conference where Toni Vitaljič from Croatia, reprenting the company Vitalis Crop Care and also Tomaž Ščavničar representing the company Refarmo in Slovenia.

The Conference ended with a sightseeing tour of the oldest and biggest golf course in Slovenia, golf course Bled, constructed in 1937. Golf course Bled was in the  year 2014 placed ranked 49 in the top 100 golf courses in Europe by the Golf Word Magazine, and  is currently being reconstructed and this amazing project will be finished in spring 2017.

The Slovenian Greenkeepers Association again showed that the size of the Country, the quantity of members in the Association and quantity of golf courses are not important in making for a great international educational conference. If you can manage to combine working closely with other Associations, have support of good partners and members, support coming from friends in Slovenia and abroad, have passion and dedication for our industry you can produce a great event. For the ones who couldn’t be present this year, The Slovenian Greenkeepers Association promised they will work hard to make the conference even better for all attending next year!

Darko Cecelja

Chairman Slovenian Greenkeepers Association

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Jacobsen Future Turf managers 2017 Delegates Announced

Jacobsen Future Turf managers 2017 Delegates Announced

Jacobsen and BIGGA have announced who the successful applicants are for 2017’s Future Turf Managers Initiative (FTMI). The popular educational and networking initiative is now in its fifth year and will once again take place at Jacobsen’s European manufacturing facility in Ipswich.

Focusing on personal and professional development, rather than agronomy-based subjects, the FTMI programme utilises the expertise of leading course managers, dynamic trainers and industry experts to mentor and educate the next generation of industry leaders.

The initiative is an intensive three days of seminars, talks and workshops and is designed to provide an in-depth understanding of the roles and responsibilities that comes with being a course manager. Commenting on the initiative, previous delegate Stuart Adams of Haverford West Golf Club, said:

“FTMI is, without doubt, the single most important turning point in my career. With over 20 years’ experience within the industry, this has been the first opportunity to get a real feel for the leader role. Not only was the whole process inspiring, but also thought provoking and confidence-building. Networking with similar professionals within the industry has created a group of friends for life. The Mentors, apart from being professionals to aspire to, were also incredibly modest and had the patience to answer all the questions asked of them. A complete credit to our industry.”

Commenting on the FTMI Sami Strutt, Head of Member Development at BIGGA, said:

“BIGGA is delighted that Jacobsen is once again supporting this important initiative for our Members. Ensuring that greenkeepers have the right training and education to step up into a management role is paramount for the future of the industry. FTMI provides the delegates with the opportunity to work with specialist industry trainers and mentors, developing their skills, knowledge and network of like-minded individuals to support them in their future management positions within the greenkeeping industry.”

Karen Proctor, Marketing and Communications Manager at Jacobsen, commented on the FTMI 2017 programme:

“FTMI 2017 is set to be another fantastic event. I would like to congratulate the successful candidates who have secured a place on FTMI 2017; it was extremely difficult to whittle the list down to just 21 delegates, so it’s a great achievement to have been selected. We hope all of the delegates enjoy the experience and get as much out of it as possible. We are very much looking forward to welcoming everyone to Jacobsen in March.”

A total of 65 applications were received, which was then whittled down to 21 successful candidates. The delegates for FTMI 2017 are as follows:

Craig Betts – Deputy Course Manager, Aldwickbury Park Golf Club

Andy Clark – Assistant Greenkeeper, Remedy Oak

Simon Dexter – Assistant Greenkeeper, Rutland County Golf Club

Ryan Gall – Assistant Greenkeeper, Loch Lomond Golf Club

Steven Hardy – Assistant greenkeeper, The Warwickshire Golf and Country Club

Craig Harrison – Assistant Greenkeeper, Royal Lytham & St Anne’s Golf Club

Kevin Hensman – Deputy Head Greenkeeper, Rowlands Castle Golf Club

Matthew Hicks – Deputy Course Manager, Huntercombe Golf Club

Thomas Jacques – Greenkeeper, Ashton and Lea Golf Club

Ricky Jakes – Deputy Course Manager, Welwyn Garden City Golf Club

Mike Laheen – Deputy Team Leader, Cosby Golf Club

Ian Lloyd – Deputy Course Manager, Parkstone Golf Club

Adrian McCullough  – Senior Greenkeeper, JCB Golf Club

Tom Pattison – Greenkeeper, Blyth Golf Club

Jon-Jo Pitts – Deputy Course Manager, Royston Golf Club

David Roberts – First Assistant Saddleworth Golf Club

David Thompson – First Assistant, Hexham Golf Club

Ken Tilt – Assistant Superintendent, Trafalgar Golf and Country Club

Martin Turna – Deputy Head Greenkeeper, Fraserburgh Golf Club

Jamie Wade – Deputy Head Greenkeeper, The Belfry

Paul Willoughby – Senior Greenkeeper, Royal Automobile Club

Jacobsen is a Textron Inc (NYSE:TXT) company. More information can be found at

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Fifth Major beckons for BIGGA Volunteers

Fifth Major beckons for BIGGA Volunteers

A team of BIGGA greenkeepers will be heading to The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in May to join the course preparation team for one of golf’s most iconic events.

Each year, the John Deere TPC Sawgrass Volunteer Programme invites a full member from each of BIGGA’s five regions to join the team for golf’s ‘fifth major’.

The successful BIGGA members who have been selected to join the programme are:

Scottish Region – Richard Johnstone, Course Manager at Nairn Dunbar Golf Links

Northern Region – Paul Walton, Greenkeeper, Sharpley Springs Golf Course in County Durham

Midland Region – Harry Jones, Head Greenkeeper, Wrekin Golf Club in Shropshire

South West and South Wales Region – Christopher Hale, Deputy Head Greenkeeper, Woodbury Park Golf and Country Club in Devon

South East Region – Sam Evans, Head Greenkeeper at Fulwell Golf Club in Middlesex

The championship takes place at the Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida course from 9-14 May 2017, and the five BIGGA members will receive travel, accommodation, food and uniform as they join the team at the legendary venue for the entire duration of the competition, courtesy of BIGGA Partner John Deere

In addition, John Deere also invites one member of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of Ireland to join the experience.

The Players Championship is made possible thanks to the hard work and dedication of a volunteer force of over 2,200 people. These volunteers are assigned to one of four divisions – player services, spectator services, volunteer services and facilities.

Ever since it was first held in 1974, The Players Championship has been considered one of the PGA Tour’s most coveted titles. With its iconic 17th hole, TPC Sawgrass provides one of the most recognizable settings in golf and will make for an unforgettable experience for the BIGGA members selected to join the programme.

If they’re lucky, the greenkeepers will even get the opportunity to attempt to hit the 17th hole’s famous island green.

Each of the members underwent a rigorous application process, consisting of an online application, submission of a short video and an interview with BIGGA and John Deere representatives.

John Deere Limited Turf Division Manager Chris Meacock said: “The volunteer programme is now in its third year, and is attracting more interest than ever,” “Greenkeepers across the UK and Ireland recognise the invaluable opportunity it presents for their career development.

“Overall the programme builds on the great relationship John Deere has with BIGGA, the GCSAI and TPC Sawgrass. The venue also appreciates the combination of knowledge, experience and ability shown by our successful team members, and this in turn reflects very well on the whole of the UK and Irish golf greenkeeping industry. We are looking forward to another highly successful event in 2017.”

BIGGA Regional Administrator Tracey Walker was on the judging panel for the South West and South Wales Region and said: “We interviewed some excellent candidates for the opportunity to head to TPC Sawgrass next year, and as always it was a really tough decision to pick our preferred choice.

“Thank you to everyone who applied, and thank you to John Deere for continuing to provide this incredible opportunity for BIGGA’s members.”

In 2016, Australian Jason Day, the world’s top ranked player, won the event by four strokes.

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FEGGA Take Development Roadshow to Bulgaria

FEGGA Take Development Roadshow to Bulgaria

n 11th of November 2016 the FEGGA Development Roadshow was held at Black Sea Rama Golf & Villas Resort in Bulgaria. This event was organised in partnership with R&A. The golf course is a Gary Player design and was opened in 2010.

The Bulgarian Golf Greenkeepers Association is engaging and showing very good progress in offering a variety of educational seminars throughout the year. The support by FEGGA proves in no doubt that the BGGA is going in the right direction.

There was significant interest in this event. The members were having very high expectations. The hospitality of the golf club and the staff was remarkable and everybody enjoyed the one day event.

The lecturers were very well chosen in consultation with the BGGA, with excellent feedback coming from the members, saying “this is what we needed to hear today” and “great gathering of information” which only confirms the success of the Roadshow.

We had Wendy Cole (R&A) talking about their Scholarship Programs. This was very well accepted among the members as finding these opportunities and cost is not only a problem in Bulgaria. Some of our members have already asked and made the first approach for such programs.
We had Dean Cleaver (FEGGA) talking about Personal Development. An area of management that is vital for all greenkeepers if they are looking to become the managers of the future

Kate Entwistle (Turf Disease Centre) presented a lecture on fungus and nematodes which was very valuable and full of illustrative information. The topic for the nematodes was more than interesting as there is almost no information in Bulgaria on this subject.


The chairman of BGGA has shared his experience of visiting the Swedish Greenkeepers Association seminar in June 2016 and the Nordea Master Tournament at the same time at the Bro Hof Slott Golf Club.

The FEGGA international Greenkeeper Experience program has started this year with the assistant superintendent of Pravets Golf Club and BGGA member – Hristo Hristov participating. Hristo spent 3 weeks at Minchinhampton Golf Club and had a variety of other visits, meetings and gathered a lot of work experience. That was very inspirable for all the members who showed a great interest and willingness to be the next ones.


The interaction in the breaks of the presentations made the conference very successful. The members were more than happy with what they saw, heard and took back home. The different topics and possibilities in front of everyone in term of education, individual development and opportunities changed the common thinking among the members. The more knowledge gained from Kate Entwistle was just enormous benefit for everyone in the turf industry.

Dean Cleaver, Executive Officer said, “it’s a great pleasure for us to be working with and providing assistance to the BGGA in their future development. They are totally committed to the development of greenkeeping as a profession, and truly realise the benefits this brings to golf and the golfers that enjoy this great game”.


The Bulgarian Golf Greenkeepers Association can easily mark the passing of 2016, as a year of greatness in terms of the offered education seminars. BGGA showed progress by declaring to be the teaching body for the turf industry in Bulgaria. The support of FEGGA (not only for this Roadshow) and the partnership with other Associations and golf clubs prove how things will go forward for the BGGA. As the chairman of this small Association I am looking forward to 2017 and making it remarkable for everyone in terms of education in what will be our 10th year anniversary.

Yavor Atanasov – Chairman – BGGA

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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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