What is the biggest compliment you have had about the venue? I don’t know if it is the biggest compliment, but I remember one during the 2014 French Open. Sky Sports were talking about long putting on the first green, and the commentator said, “these greens are as pure as they can be.” I saw this and took a video of it with my mobile phone, which I still have to this day. I was very proud of that comment!
What will be the most rewarding thing for you regarding hosting the Ryder Cup? I’m looking forward to Sunday afternoon of the Ryder Cup, once the last putt has been made. Everyone will be happy with the set-up and hopefully we will have a good week. The main thing is that our staff, the organisation and the players are all happy and proud of the job that we have done- that will be the most rewarding thing.
How do you cope with the pressures of hosting such a prestigious event? At this point in time, I don’t have too much pressure. As I always say, I sleep very well; I don’t get under pressure easily. Any pressure I do have is usually not to do with the tournament, so I just try to enjoy every moment here with the team.
What helped you make the decision to pick Jacobsen over the other big names? Service, tournament support and the security that we already had with Jacobsen. This course was Jacobsen since 2011, and when we were doing the bidding process for the Ryder Cup in 2015, security and trust were the biggest factors. We receive fantastic tournament support from Jacobsen every year for the French Open, and that’s what we wanted for the Ryder Cup. We were just delighted with the quality of the mowers, and we trust in them to produce top quality surfaces. For us, it was an easy choice.
What is your favourite Jacobsen machine and why? My personal favourite is the Eclipse 2 greens mower, the 122 model. We use 15-blade cutting units, and I really like the groomer attachment. We are also able to easily adjust the frequency of cut with just one button, and the reliability is fantastic- great mower. I am also a big fan of the Jacobsen fairway mowers. We are going to have the new SLF530 lightweight fairway mowers for the Ryder Cup; I am impressed with what I have seen so far and the team is looking forward to mowing with them this summer.
What has been your career’s biggest challenge before you came to le golf national? Without a doubt, it was when I was 25 years old. I got my first golf course superintendent position at a Jack Nicklaus signature course in the south of Spain. I had a lot of education, but it was a huge challenge. It’s hard when you are so young and you have to make your own decisions for the first time, that was a lot of pressure! Managing a team for the first time was difficult as well, it’s very easy to make mistakes when you lack experience of management, but it was a great learning curve and it made me a better person for it.
Are you keeping the blanket cut or going back to the diamond cut on the fairways for the Ryder Cup? We are going to cut the fairways all one way. It will probably be tee to green.
10 Quick-fire Questions
1. What’s your golfing handicap? I’m not a great golfer. It’s 21. I wish I could play at that standard, but I don’t practice enough. It’s officially 21, though!
2. What annoys you most? Unprofessional people
3. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be? At Le Golf National! With a few months to go until the Ryder Cup, why would I want to be anywhere else?!
4. If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time? I would love to complete the certification programme of the GCSAA. It’s something that is on my to-do list. I told myself I would do it one year before the Ryder Cup, in 2017, but I just didn’t have time. I’d also like to re-read all my turf books, there are plenty of them!
5. Do you have any hidden talents? I don’t think so! But who knows, maybe we’ll find out soon…
6. What job would you be terrible at? Working with kids. When they are running around and screaming… it’s not for me. I am somebody that needs to keep control and that’s difficult with kids.
7. What skill would you like to master? I would love to be a pro-golfer. To even have a handicap of a single number would be amazing.
8. What motivates you? I use my role as a leader of a team to motivate myself. Sometimes during tournaments, you are very tired and there are lots of long hours, but I think of the team at the course and everyone smiling and proud of the job they are doing. So that really gives me motivation when I need it most.
9. Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? When I took this job, someone said to me, “Alejandro, work every day like it is your last day working.” This meaning to give maximum effort every single day. This really stuck with me.
10. Most admired sports person? Rafael Nadal. His character, his power, everything about him- I really admire him.
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