Donald Steel, Chairman of the GTC says farewell to David Golding

David Golding - Web

Speaking at a lunch held recently at the GTC and BIGGA headquarters, GTC Chairman Donald Steel gave a speech to David Golding who retired after 23 years with the GTC. These are his kind words.

I remember nothing of his remarks except for his opening which, for the height of pomposity, takes a lot beating. He said, I’d just like to say a few words BEFORE I start to speak.  I do not intend to speak, so to speak, this lunchtime.  I give you my pledge to be shorter than the Chilcot Enquiry but I do want to say a very few words on this AUSPICIOUS HAPPY/SAD occasion.

Sad that David has saddled up his horse ready to ride off into the sunset even if he looks far too young to retire.

Happy that we are celebrating the fact that he leaves behind a highly distinguished working legacy for training greenkeepers in which we have all, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, been fortunate to have played some part. I don’t need to enlarge for I know I am preaching to the converted but, I am sure you agree, it is a remarkable story.

There is a modern belief that the past doesn’t matter. Some say it is old hat.  They contend it is only the present that counts.  I agree you can only deal with situations as you find them and there is always a duty to try and shape the future but, without the past, there would be no present.  David has acted as Education Director of the Greenkeepers Training Committee for 23 years and has presided over an industry that has been transformed thanks to his dedication, vision and persuasive example. Greenkeeping has always been hard graft and David’s practical background as a greenkeeper meant he could speak from experience.  To me, greenkeepers are on a par as a willing and unselfish brotherhood  -or now sisterhood-  with our lifeboat men and National Hunt jockeys.  They never complain about their plight, they deal with the unexpected, they keep unsocial hours, and are driven to help others but David belonged to a generation of greenkeepers that wanted something better and, more poignantly, fought hard to achieve it.

He was one of the campaigners in the creation of BIGGA and, through BIGGA and the Home Unions, the GTC.  Today, greenkeeping has become the job of a lifetime -for a lifetime.  Many have never thought of doing anything else, eager to learn their trade and to have the qualifications to enable them to master the responsibilities they face.  And they are very good at it and, what is more, are delightful people. More than half the art of any tuition is getting the message across and here David’s presentation skills, scrupulously honest approach and genuine understanding have contributed enormously to the success of the GTC.

It is symbolic that the new All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf should have been established a year before David’s impending retirement because Parliament’s awareness of the apprenticeship scheme is, in no small measure, down to his pioneering efforts.  The GTC has always been an apprenticeship scheme and David mounts his getaway horse after building up the GTC from modest beginnings into a notable national and international force.

More cogently, the training of young greenkeepers is perhaps the only thing from which all golfers, young or old, good or bad, man or woman, boy or girl, amateur or professional, benefit.

In the 60 years or so of my involvement in golf, greenkeeping has scaled the heights rather in the way that the playing of the game has done.  There have never been more good greenkeepers or more good players and, watching the thrilling final round of the Open on Sunday made me reflect that, in that time, the first prize in the Open has risen from under a thousand pounds to over a million.

Here, I must thank Fiona for all her good offices behind the scenes and for all the invitations and arrangements for today’s lunch.  Fiona has always been a comforting presence at David’s side, a duo that have made my Chairmanship an absolute joy and so it is with pride and delight that I present this Print to David, to wish him a happy birthday and a long and happy retirement and to thank him on behalf of the game and several thousand of greenkeepers for his supreme contribution to its welfare, enjoyment and efficiency.

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New Fleet Delivered to Golf National

Following the signing of a five-year preferred supplier agreement between Golf National and Ransomes Jacobsen, a new Jacobsen mowing and turf maintenance equipment has been delivered ahead of the forthcoming Open de France.

The first units to be delivered were eight Jacobsen Eclipse2 walk behind greens mowers with a mix of floating and fixed head and the two Jacobsen GP400 riding greens mowers. They were quickly followed by the 16 Jacobsen medium duty utility vehicles; seven rough mowers including AR3s, AR522s and AR772s; five heavy duty Jacobsen Truckster XD utility vehicles; six fairway mowers including SLF1880s and the recently launched LF570, two trim mowers, the five Eclipse 322 hybrid riding green mowers plus additional equipment including Turfco topdressers, overseeders, blowers and Smithco sprayers.

In total 70 units have been delivered by Parisian subsidiary, RJ IDF, with teams of technicians from the UK and France preparing and setting up  all the  equipment to the requirements of Alejandro Reyes, the Superintendent at Golf National.

As part of the five-year agreement the fleet will be supplemented every year during the Open de France with additional equipment, especially greens, fairway and rough mowers depending on the needs expressed by Alejandro Reyes. Technical representatives of Ransomes Jacobsen in England and Ransomes Jacobsen France will be present during the entire week of the tournament to provide the Golf National team with support to make any adjustments as requested by the European Tour.

Commenting on the existing special relationship with the Ransomes Jacobsen organisation, Alejandro Reyes, said,

“I am a long time user of Jacobsen products and the quality is undeniable. However, the most important thing to me, which was also the key point in our tender document, is the technical support we have been provided with these past years and especially at every Open.

“As far as I’m concerned, confidence in the chosen brand is essential in our business and I feel that we have made the right choice. Good technical support and a good relationship are fundamental in the preparation of one of Europe’s greatest golf competitions and we trust Jacobsen on this.”

David Withers, President of Jacobsen commented at the delivery of the latest units saying:

“We are extremely pleased and delighted that Golf National has selected Jacobsen as their preferred supplier of golf course maintenance equipment for a further five years. It’s a testament to the quality of the Jacobsen product offering and to the excellent support provided by Ransomes Jacobsen France. We have a longstanding association with Golf National and they are a prestigious partner in our customer portfolio. We look forward to enhancing this relationship as we move forward.

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Le Golf National become Patrons of FEGGA

As Le Golf National become Patrons of FEGGA, Alexandro Reyes shares an insight of the Reconstruction of the golf course. Read More


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Deere on course for a Royal Open at Troon

Billy McLachlan, course manager at Royal Troon Golf Club, and his 15-strong greenkeeping team will see the culmination of two years’ preparatory work on the course and greens this July, when the Ayrshire club hosts the 145th Open Championship – the eighth time the event has come to the Firth of Clyde. The work has included specification changes to all the Old Course greens.

“We’ve adjusted the top dressing programme to firm them up as much as we can,” explains Billy McLachlan, who has been at Royal Troon for 35 years, the past 22 as course manager. His brother John doubles as co-deputy course manager and mechanic, working alongside co-deputy Gary Ross.

Continuing its close relationship with John Deere and dealer Nairn Brown at Busby, Glasgow, the club has bought five new 220SL walk-behind greens mowers and a new 2653B ride-on triplex cylinder mower as the latest additions to its fleet of course maintenance equipment. The 220SL walk-behinds replaced a similar number of older 220C models, while the 2653B complements a 12-year old model that is still going strong. Royal Troon also runs John Deere compact tractors.

“We’ve been using the 220 walk-behinds for the past 12 years, going back to the B Series models, and the latest SLs are part of our rolling machinery replacement policy,” says Billy McLachlan. “The staff think they are the best walk-behind, as does my brother John, who does all the setting up on the mowers.

“The 220SL’s 22 inch width suits us, even on the smaller 9th and 8th greens,” (the famous Postage Stamp, the shortest hole in championship golf, with no safe way to play it; don’t hit the green and the ball is in trouble!) “They will be used to cut all the greens before and during the Championship.

“The height of cut adjustment is quick and precise, and we’ve reduced the height of cut from 3.5 to 3.4mm; even that small amount makes a difference and enables us to treat the greens according to the conditions. In the past we have reduced cutting frequency and increased rolling; it all depends on what the weather sends.”

The new 2653B represents the third generation of this popular ride-on cylinder mower used at Royal Troon. “They have improved the quality and stand on the surrounds,” says Billy McLachlan. “Our John Deere 8000E five-gang hybrid electric machines normally cut the surrounds and for the Open we are going to try and cut the fairways with them as well.

“We’ve introduced a policy of cutting the ‘outer surrounds’ to the same height, which will be done with the 2653Bs, as they give a good finish and can handle the slopes. They will also be used on the practice tees and on the Portland and par three courses. Having two of these mowers also gives us a back-up; I always like to have a back-up.

“We have stayed with John Deere as if the staff like a machine, then that’s what we have. But it is not just the product, it is the whole package, which includes the extremely efficient support that Nairn Brown and sales manager Graham Stewart, and John Deere, provide.”

Supplying Billy McLachlan and his greens staff with the machines to present Royal Troon’s 6591m (7208 yards), par 71 Old Course at its best for the Open and maintain it for the duration of the Championship is not Nairn Brown and John Deere’s only association with the event. They will also be providing additional tournament support in the form of Gator utility vehicles and additional 8000E hybrid electric ride-on mowers.

“We’ll have six 8000Es for the fairways and surrounds, with the intention that they will all be cutting to the same height,” says Billy McLachlan. “The only problem will be how we physically set out to do it!”

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FEGGA comments on the United Kingdom leaving the EU

Following the recent decision by the United Kingdom to withdraw from the EU, FEGGA does not feel that this decision will impact on the Federation. FEGGA is made up of 24 National Greenkeeper Associations, and not all of these are full members of the EU, so this is not an unusual situation for our organisation and its ongoing work. Norway and Switzerland are not full members of the EU, and they fully engage in the work of FEGGA. In particular Norway have engaged strongly in Education, using the Pan European Standards that have been created to their own benefit, and their government recognising these as professional industry standards, that have major benefits to their golf industry.

FEGGA works with the EU through various channels, and has been able to grow education through these channels, with many Countries benefiting from this work. This work will continue, and through this work it’s the profession that gains, and not just individual Countries.

FEGGA also works with many of the leading European companies that are playing a major role in serving our industry, and benefiting golf as a whole. They should not be forgotten in the impact it might have on them, and we as an organisation are committed to work with them as they work through this period.

From a UK perspective, BIGGA are a very prominent member of FEGGA, and FEGGA very much supports their comments regarding the upcoming period of uncertainty with the economy, and also the commitment they have made to their own members, and also the golf industry as a whole.

FEGGA is Dedicated to Communicate and Share Environmentally Sustainable Ideals and Skills for Quality Golf Course Management

Dean Cleaver, Executive Officer, FEGGA

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British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association reacts to UK’s European Union referendum decision

In the wake of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union, the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association has reaffirmed its pledge to support its almost 6,000 members.

IGGA Chief Executive Officer Jim Croxton said: “The UK golf industry is still in a delicate position on the back of the last economic downturn. Following the result of the referendum, we are set to enter another uncertain period for the economy. The decision to leave the EU will have an impact on people’s pockets and within the golf industry this can manifest itself in a reduction in greenkeeping budgets. We will redouble our efforts to ensure we support our members throughout this period and work closely with the rest of the golf industry to keep the sport as buoyant as possible

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Dustin Johnson Wins US Open at Oakmont Country Club on Greens Prepared with Jacobsen Mowers

Dustin Johnson won the 116th US Open Championship at Oakmont Country Club on greens prepared with specially adapted Jacobsen PGM 22 walking mowers. In a controversial final round he held off the challenge of Shane Lowry, Jim Furyk and Scott Piercy to win by three strokes with a total score of 276. This latest US Open was a record 9th time that Oakmont had staged the event and much has been said about the famed course over the years and its unrivalled reputation as being tournament ready every day of the year.

John Zimmers, the Superintendent of Oakmont Country Club said, “When you say things like tournament ready or championship ready, these are the expectations of Oakmont Country Club and what we strive to provide for our members every day. Part of the history, the culture here at Oakmont has always been about firm and fast greens. Our greens are a very unique poa annua grass that we found are best maintained with a Jacobsen PGM 22 fitted with a 19” reel on a 22” roller. I’ve been using them since I first arrived here in 1999. “I’ve been doing this for years now and we’ve tried other mowers, other technology and we always come back to this mower. It cuts better, you get a better green speed, better quality-of-cut, better performance, better turf health and it’s just undoubtedly, hands down the best mowers for Oakmont’s greens.”

David Delsandro, Director of U.S. Open Operations and Projects added,  “Of course, the high level of expectations at Oakmont brings a certain level of stress, but we embrace that pressure and although we really don’t maintain the course that differently for the U.S. Open, we focus on what we normally do and let our body of work show for itself. “The new Jacobsen HR700 rotary enables us to meet the USGA specifications for rough mowing and we can mow at a 5-inch height-of-cut and as a result, get a more uniform, denser stand of rough.”

See Delsandro and Zimmers talk about preparing for the 2016 US Open in this brief video.

Lee Trevino once said that there’s only one course in the country where you could step out right now – right now – and play the U.S. Open, and that’s Oakmont.

What the team at Oakmont ‘normally’ does is nothing short of incredible – consistently providing green speeds over 13 and 14 feet – in addition to maintaining 210 bunkers and keeping 300 acres looking picture-perfect every day. Even the famed church pews get special attention to ensure they look good year round as it’s not unusual to have visitors in the dead of winter wanting to see them. “Ultimately, it goes back to what course designer Henry Fownes’ originally wanted: a very brutal test of golf, but fair,” said Zimmers. “And I think that’s really how you describe the U.S. Open, you want the players to grind and the best player will get the trophy.” “We recently renewed our fleet of greens mowers and local Jacobsen dealer, Krigger & Co, came in and replicated the identical setup of our mowers, which have been dialled in so precisely for our needs,” Delsandro added.

For Zimmers, one of the most rewarding things about working at Oakmont is seeing his team come together and realize how much they have accomplished. “Right now, we have a very special group of young men who are starting to see in these last few weeks the results of all their hard work and dedication. They can look back and appreciate what they did on those cold March mornings. And, best of all, it will be very rewarding for me to see where these young men will be in a few years and how successful they will undoubtedly be.”

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What is sustainability?

Erich Steiner (pictured) shares his thoughts on Sustainability….

The concept of sustainability exists from the early days of human life on earth. It has been about survival. Looking back only as far as the 18th century Carl von Carlowitz, a german thinker, already formerly addressed the idea of sustainable forestry asking how we can combine economic interests with environmental needs without radically changing our way of life. This is the foundation of the idea, finding a balance between economic benefit and managing the impact on nature (and society). The inherent idea is timeless, yet we have only really started to talk about sustainability as a formal concept in recent decades.

In 1983 the UN formed the World Commission on Environment and Development with three objectives in mind: to re-examine the critical environment and development issues and formulate realistic proposals for dealing with them; to propose new forms of international co-operation on these issues that will influence policies and events in the direction of needed changes; and to raise the levels of understanding and commitment to action of individuals, voluntary organizations, businesses, institutes and governments. The results of this commission were published in 1987 as Our Common Future, 4 years of international research on “sustainable development”. Then in 1992 the Rio Earth Summit took these issues to the international stage where 179 countries agreed to work toward creating a “global sustainable development” with a fair balance between economic efficiency, social responsibility and a careful use of resources.

Since these early steps only a couple of decades ago there have been sustainability definitions and eco-labels created in almost every domain of life, including golf, to encourage the industry to “go green”, essentially to think of the social and environmental consequences as well, and not just focus on making more money. The R&A has defined sustainable golf as “Optimising the playing quality of the golf course in harmony with the conservation of its natural environment under economically sound and socially responsible management”. FEGGA has also produced an Environmental Policy Document back in 2000, encouraging the implementation of an environmental programme to bring the greenkeeping profession in line with sustainable practices.

A lot of research, writing and nice words, but the question is: where are we on this path toward a sustainable development some 24 years after the Rio Earth Summit? Are we bored with talking about sustainability? Some say it’s a worn out word. Was it just a passing trend? Has our constant talking replaced the acting and do we even remember our objectives and what are we doing to reach them? We might believe that we are already living in a world of sustainability with organic food shops on every corner and constant talk of green energy and Fairtrade bananas. Yet the truth is something else. The industrialized countries have just begun to make a dent in the total market but there is a long road ahead. GEO is working to help the golf industry becoming more sustainable. Is it working and to what extent?

Decision-making remains difficult with this every present conflict between our heavily dominant economic objectives and the importance of ecological integrity and social responsibility. Within the greenkeeping profession we talk of more environmentally friendly pesticide products and energy efficient machinery, yet climate change continues to rise, habitats are disappearing rapidly and fresh water reserves are more and more threatened. It is not only our increasing population that weighs heavily on this planet but also our economic-based decisions. Even in ecologically minded Germany, more than 1/3 of all native fauna and flora is under threat of extinction and 20% of all bee-hives did not survive last winter in Switzerland. And the world share of wealth if still incredibly unbalanced. We see this every day with the massive numbers of immigration requests trying desperately to find a better life in the western world. We would like to live in harmony with nature and be socially responsible yet the task is daunting. We talk the talk, but do we walk the walk? Where do we start? How sustainable can we be as individuals in a world of massive international conglomerates who make short-term profit their number one objective?

It seems insurmountable yet I believe that each individual can make smart sustainable decisions and when individuals get together, as we are as European greenkeepers, we can make a difference and even help to lead by example for the rest of the golf industry. Corporate sustainability is living together as said by Carl von Carlowitz back in 1713. As golf returns to the Olympics and the world stage this year, let’s stand up and get taken seriously. Let’s start a collective initiative for a collective impact. Let’s help bring a sustainable revolution to golf today, for a better game tomorrow..

Steiner & Partner Landschaftsarchitektur GmbH

Ref.: K:\Projekte\15215 FEGGA-Patrons Representativ\02 Dokumente\Be160314_ Essey on Sustainability.doc

Erich Steiner MSc Landscape Architect FH BSLA, Managing Director

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All Ten Open Venues Achieve Gold Standard For Sustainability

All ten host venues for The Open have achieved golf’s coveted global eco-label, GEO Certified®.  The certification recognises clubs which have shown a strong commitment to environmental stewardship, resource efficiency and community value. 

The certification is administered and assured by the Golf Environment Organization (GEO), the not-for-profit group dedicated to sustainability in the golf industry. The independently verified and publicly reported standard is internationally recognised as a credible and significant distinction.

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “The Open is played over many of Great Britain and Ireland’s most cherished links courses.  We are delighted that all ten host venues have demonstrated a long-term commitment to sustainability best practices by achieving GEO Certified® status.  This is very much in line with The R&A’s approach to sustainability and is certainly a key priority for us in the years to come.” 

Royal Troon, host venue for The 145TH Open from 10-17 July, was the fourth host venue to earn the certification, meeting criteria across the categories of nature, water, energy, supply chain, pollution control and community, while working closely with ecology experts to enhance the habitat for a wide range of wildlife.

This commitment to sustainability will be underpinned at the ninth staging of the Championship at Royal Troon through The Open’s GreenLinks programme, which addresses the broader sustainability considerations around staging a major sporting event. It includes sustainable and ethical procurement policies for food and beverage, waste reduction initiatives, energy efficiency measures and a commitment to conserving the natural links landscapes which play host to the Championship.

The other Scottish host venues to achieve GEO Certified® status are St Andrews Links, which was the first Open venue to earn the designation and was re-certified in 2015 before staging The 144TH Open on the Old Course, Carnoustie, host of The 147TH Open in 2018, Muirfield, and Turnberry. In England, Royal Birkdale, host of The Open in 2017, Royal Liverpool, Royal St George’s and Royal Lytham & St Annes have all earned the certification.

The most recent venue to achieve the certification is Royal Portrush, which will host The 148TH Open in 2019. The Northern Irish links will welcome golf’s oldest and most international major championship for the first time since 1951. Course changes are being made in preparation for The Open with a focus on conservation of the natural dune habitat.

“This is a fantastic achievement and an impressive show of leadership from the ten Open venues and The R&A,” said Jonathan Smith, Chief Executive of GEO. “As well as providing stable and safe habitats for some of the UK’s rarest wildlife, and demonstrating some of the most sustainable turfgrass management in the world, a great deal of innovation is taking place on these Open venues.  Solar power, rainwater harvesting, electric and hybrid machinery and partnering with local environmental and community groups are just some of those.  This announcement is symbolic of growing momentum in the advancement of sustainability through golf and a very fitting way for the industry to celebrate Earth Day.”

GEO provides tools, guidance and support through the OnCourse® programme which is available free to clubs worldwide. OnCourse® and GEO Certified® raise understanding and facilitate tangible progress in sustainability across the industry, as well as providing credible recognition.For more information, please visit

Certification and verification reports for all ten host venues for The Open can be found at


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Enhanced formula MelgreenMn, with proven results

Melspring Internationals product MelgreenMn has a new, enhanced formula. Due to extra micronutrients and a renewed composition of seaweed extracts the results of this manganese product, part of the Melgreen Liquid Range, have greatly improved. MelgreenMn is a manganese-based fertiliser solution in which the manganese is complexed with sugars of a unique algae extract. This algae extract has properties that with seaweeds have not been demonstrated before. Trials of research institute Lumbricus show that the extract of MelgreenMn stimulates growth and that the production of dry matter and the uptake of nutrients is greatly enhanced. MelgreenMn ,with this algae extract, is specially made for the early spring and ensures a significant boost to the plant and a quick start of growth. MelgreenMn should only be used in case of manganese deficiencies. This situation very often occurs in the top layer of a green. Because the manganese is captured in the soil fertilisation through the leaf is the best method. Manganese deficiencies often occurs…:

  • In soils with pH > 7
  • In soils with lots of organic matter
  • In soils with lots of iron
  • After strong magnesium fertilisation

Lumbricus trials 2015 v2







Trial Lumbricus

Proven results In the Autumn of 2015 an initial trial was done by Lumbricus with the algae extracts used by  Melspring International, some competitive products and control. Which kind of algae has the best effects? In terms of general turf grass development the use of the algae extract used in MelgreenMn resulted the fastest in a high density, in a significantly bigger turf grass height and in a higher biomass production than the control or other products. Also, the products algae extract gave significantly broader and thicker leaves.

Production of biomass





Production of biomass (C = MelgreenMn algae extract)

Next to the boost in growth the new algae extract ensures a larger production of dry matter compared to the old algae extract that was used for the former Melspring manganese product. Also, the new algae extract used in MelgreenMn ensures a better uptake of nutrients in the leaf compared to control.

Graph - Melrose

Uptake of nutrients (Extract C = MelgreenMn algae extract)

MelgreenMn: part of Melgreen Liquid prevention programme MelgreenMn is one of three products in the Melgreen Liquid Range, together with MelgreenSi and MelgreenCu. It focuses on prevention by optimal nutrition through the leaf, with healthy turf as the main target. The programme allows the plant to better resist to stressful events of whatever kind. The complete programme consists of carefully selected products geared to each physiological phase in turf development. MelgreenMn for a quick start of growth in spring, MelgreenSi for a high stress tolerance and MelgreenCu for hardening in periods after summer and in the late winter, when a higher resistance to fungal diseases is needed.


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