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College Cup winners prepare Clásico pitch

College Cup winners prepare Clásico pitch: After winning the 2019 SALTEX College Cup, four students from Myerscough College recently enjoyed an unforgettable experience at Real Madrid’s Bernabéu Stadium.

The annual SALTEX College Cup, sponsored by Toro and Reesink Turfcare, is a student-led sports turf challenge – an academic test of turf management knowledge for student competitors who are enrolled at a college on a relevant course of study.

College Cup winners prepare Clásico pitch

College Cup winners prepare Clásico pitch

Myerscough College, located in Bilsborrow, Preston, entered a team into the competition solely consisting of apprentices. Scott Danter (Warwick School), Ashley Hill (Warwickshire County Cricket Club), Ryan Harrison and Nick George (both from Leicester City Football Club) are all currently studying Level 2 or Level 3 sportsturf apprenticeships.

The competition consisted of paper-based multiple choice and short answer questions on turf management, plus a case study which required a more in-depth written answer. The students were also presented with live test samples in which they had to identify potential threats to the health of turf.

Myerscough College proved victorious and saw off competition from Askham Bryan, CAFRE, Bridgwater and Capel Manor to win the trophy. The Myerscough team was then presented with a prize that money can’t buy – a once-in-a-lifetime visit to Real Madrid’s Bernabéu Stadium, where they would get the opportunity to learn from Paul Burgess, Madrid’s director of grounds and environment.

As part of the prize the four students enjoyed an invaluable groundscare work experience placement in the run up to one of the biggest domestic fixtures in world football, El Clásico, between Real Madrid and Barcelona. During their weekend visit the group enjoyed a full, behind-the-scenes experience of just what it takes to prepare the playing surface for such a prestigious fixture, and even got the golden opportunity to be part of the team that maintains the Bernabéu’s hallowed turf.

It was an experience that will live long in the memory according to student Ashley Hill: “This was a real honour,” he said. “Seeing in detail what the grounds team do at the training ground and at the stadium was inspirational. Mowing the pitch at the Bernabéu was the icing on the cake.”

Ryan Harrison believes that opportunity to learn from Paul Burgess has helped to improve his skill set and will enhance his prospects in the grounds management industry: “Paul and the team were brilliant with us all and I learnt so much. Helping to prepare the pitch for the El Clasico was a real privilege and I am going home a better groundsperson.”

The Bernabéu tour follows three extraordinary SALTEX College Cup prizes in previous years. In 2017 the winning students were part of the Wembley grounds team at the FA Cup Final and the following year the winners enjoyed an unforgettable experience of helping with pitch preparations at the 2018 Six Nations Championships at BT Murrayfield Stadium. Last year saw the winning College win a behind the scenes tour at The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), Wimbledon in which the students received an in-depth look at court preparations the week before The Championships 2019 took place.

The SALTEX College Cup continues to go from strength to strength and Dan Prest, head of technical and learning at the Institute of Groundsmanship, believes it is a fantastic platform to encourage and inspire the younger generation.

“This competition is all about raising standards in our industry. Young people should see this opportunity as a viable career option and that there is a progressive career path for them to follow,” he said.

All colleges interested in participating in the 2020 SALTEX College Cup should email Dan Prest at dprest@iog.org for more details.

SALTEX 2020 will take place at the NEC, Birmingham on 4 and 5 November.

For more information visit www.iogsaltex.com

Follow SALTEX on Twitter @IOG_SALTEX and Facebook – www.facebook.com/IOGSALTEX

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STRI at the Saudi Cup

STRI at the Saudi Cup: World-leading sports surface solution provider, STRI Group, recently completed one of the most ambitious projects in its 90-year history – a turf racetrack in the challenging terrain of Saudi Arabia.

STRI was chosen by his Excellency Prince Bandar Bin Khalid Al Faisal (chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia) to support his vision of making Saudi Arabia a destination for world class horse racing on turf. Critical to achieving this was the delivery of an elite turf track in time for the inaugural running of the world’s richest horse racing event, the Saudi Cup.

STRI at the Saudi Cup

STRI at the Saudi Cup

As the Principal Contractors for engineering and construction of the new turf track at The King Abdulaziz Racecourse, STRI provided an end-to-end design, build and operate solution to Riyadh Equestrian Club. Here’s a sneak peek into how STRI delivered this mammoth project.

Making racing history Prince Bandar’s vision was to create the first ever elite turf racetrack in Saudi Arabia. The course had to perform to the highest possible standards and be constructed using the finest materials available. The entire design required the construction and establishment of the track to be undertaken in a record-breaking period of just six months, requiring a large-scale resource input to achieve such a fast turnaround.

Key challenges The major hurdles to overcome were timescales and climate. Following our engagement in July 2019, STRI’s teams of researchers and consultants quickly established the most effective way of producing a surface that would meet the needs of our client. Our on-theground mobilisation was immediate, to ensure we made the most of the time available to us to deliver the track and deal with the challenging and variable climate of Saudi Arabia.

Design and build Engineering a track of this standard is a highly complex process requiring input from our world-leading experts in drainage, irrigation, construction, materials analysis and biomechanics.

The primary constituents that make up the track are relatively few in number, but the type and amounts of those constituents are critical to making the track a success. First steps are to understand the baseline environment of the development site. Our team conducted a detailed study of the site including a comprehensive review of climatic conditions.

From there, an extensive materials selection regime was undertaken, taking a range of sands and gravels from around the Kingdom and testing them for their compatibility to create a firm surface ideal for racing. This rootzone, once mixed with stabilising fibres, provides the perfect medium within which to install the grass surface.

The construction process itself was rapid and extensive resources were drafted from across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to excavate the existing track material and install the new one. Timing was critical and the earth movement work had to be completed at breakneck speed as we needed to be ready to sow with the selected grass species as soon as temperatures reached the optimal level.

The turf track To meet the needs of a winter race in Saudi Arabia, the track was established with a “cool season” grass species – ie a species usually found in more temperate climates. This grass thrives in the winter climate of Saudi Arabia and, when combined with a special blend of stabilising fibres incorporated into the mix, it provides a surface which not only performs exceptionally well but also looks visually stunning.

Once sown, a daily bespoke maintenance regime was developed to ensure the correct levels of water and fertiliser were applied to maximise strong sward establishment. Deep rooting was critical to develop a grass surface that not only looked fantastic, but also held together under the stresses created by a galloping horse.

After several months of careful maintenance, we are delighted to have presented and demonstrated, a track that is befitting of this prestigious race event.

A note on sustainability and future-proof design Sustainability underpins STRI’s approach to all design projects. Our R&D teams are continually innovating technologies to make developments more sustainable, through the construction and operational phases of their lifecycles.

This not only relates to sustainability from a climate perspective, with the key pressures being water and resource use, but we also work with clients to design facilities which will fit their business model needs in the short, medium and long-term. For example, water use per capita in the Middle East is amongst the highest in the world. Current forecasts suggest that local aquifers will run dry in the next 20 years. STRI develops technologies and techniques to reduce the water requirement of natural turf.

Final thoughts HRH Prince Bandar’s project in Riyadh is a great example of our ability to problem solve. STRI has made its name developing elite sports surfaces across the world and our in-house R&D combined with global network means that we are able to adapt to even the most challenging of situations. However, it is exactly these kinds of projects that we relish the opportunity to get involved in.

The timescales, climate, resource availability and the need to have a surface of exceptional quality all made this project a challenge. Striving to achieve the wider National Vision 2030, we believe this facility will form part of a network of world leading venues in the region and create a global powerhouse of natural turf racing.

“I’m very happy, although I’m not surprised. We engaged some of the best people in the world to design and work on the track. They said they would deliver and they have, so I’m extremely happy. STRI has done an amazing job.” His Excellency Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al Faisal (chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia)

“What has been achieved in a short period of time is staggering. We know STRI are world class, world leaders in their field, I think what they’ve done is superb. The detail and the attention that they’ve gone to is phenomenal. It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with them. This track is unbelievably consistent, I don’t think you’ll walk on a more consistent racing surface anywhere in the world. It’s level, beautiful cambered bends. It’s some achievement.”

Clerk of the course and Newmarket Head of Racing, Michael Prosser.

“I’m very happy with the ground on the turf track. After three months when you see what the team has done here, they’ve worked very hard and done a fantastic job. I have ridden here for a very, very long time and at the other track and I see the construction here and it’s very good.” Oliver Peslier, jockey, Call The Wind, 1st: Longines Turf Handicap

“What they’ve done in the space of two months (with this turf course) is remarkable.” Frankie Dettori after his win on Dark Power, 1st: The STC 1351 turf sprint

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Up For The Cup At Gleneagles

Up For The Cup At Gleneagles: Gleneagles will hold a unique position in golfing history when the biggest event in women’s golf concludes this weekend, by becoming the first venue in Europe to have hosted both The Solheim Cup and The Ryder Cup (in 2014).

As the Gleneagles and volunteer greenkeeping teams led by golf courses manager Craig Haldane, together with director of agronomy and estates Scott Fenwick, put the finishing touches to the Jack Nicklaus-designed PGA Centenary Course, John Deere and local dealer Double A are equally busy behind the scenes.

Up for The Cup at Gleneagles

The greenkeeping team at Gleneagles has risen to 100 people, with tournament standard conditioning also extending to The King’s Course, which is hosting The Junior Solheim Cup, and The Queen’s Course, which remains open for member and VIP visitor play during the week.

John Deere is the official golf course and turf maintenance machinery event partner to Gleneagles for this 16th biennial edition of The Solheim Cup. The company has a long association with professional golf, having been a title sponsor on the PGA Tour, official supplier to the PGA Tour for over 25 years, official supplier to the Ladies European Tour and a partner at numerous Solheim Cup events.

In addition, John Deere is partnering Gleneagles by exclusively providing golf course maintenance machinery and ancillary equipment for use across all three championship golf courses.

“We are very grateful for the support from our local dealer Double A as we’ve been gearing up the John Deere fleet ahead of the tournament,” says Craig Haldane. “Typically we aim to maintain all three courses at a very high level all year round, but we’ve upped the ante for The Solheim Cup.

“Closing the course three weeks prior to the event has allowed it to recover from any stress and provided additional time to prepare and introduce a higher frequency of cut. By fine tuning our existing practices we’ve been able go up another level in terms of a quality cut and finish for the tournament.

“We’re also very fortunate to benefit from the extra resources and experience provided by the volunteer greenkeepers supporting our team this week. Eight of the 52 volunteers are women, who have joined our own Laura Campbell and BIGGA’s head of membership services Tracey Maddison to help with the course preparations, so it’s fitting that we can showcase the equal role women play in our industry, especially during The Solheim Cup.”

Up for The Cup at Gleneagles

Carlos Aragones, John Deere European turf sales & marketing manager, adds: “The Solheim Cup is one of the biggest events on the 2019 sporting calendar and we are delighted to be a part of it. We are also proud of our collaboration with Gleneagles in helping to prepare the course for such a prestigious tournament.”

In 2019 John Deere and its dealers are supporting more than 10 major tournaments in the UK and Ireland, every month from the Betfred British Masters at Hillside Golf Club in May to The Solheim Cup at Gleneagles and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in September. This involves providing specialist support staff and more than 150 machines including walk-behind and ride-on greens mowers, tees & surrounds, fairway and rough mowers, compact tractors and Gator utility vehicles.

“Traditionally we work closely with the individual club’s course managers and greenkeeping teams to help keep all the machines in the fleet serviced and ready for work each day, and ensure all cutting units can achieve the highest possible quality of cut,” says John Deere Limited turf division manager Chris Meacock. “This partnership approach helps everyone to achieve the best possible results where they matter, out on the course, and keep things running as smoothly as possible throughout the event.”

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Reesink To Sponsor College Cup

Reesink To Sponsor College Cup: Toro and Reesink Turfcare are delighted to announce they will be sponsoring the SALTEX College Cup 2019, managed by the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG).

The SALTEX College Cup is a student-led sports turf challenge, testing teams of students on their turf management knowledge with paper-based questions, a presentation and live test samples. The competition held during SALTEX, the industry’s leading turf management exhibition at the NEC Birmingham from 30-31 October, presents a real challenge to its young contestants but with the promise of big rewards.

Reesink To Sponsor College Cup

To celebrate the inaugural partnership, a once-in-a-lifetime prize with Real Madrid Football Club has been planned. The winning team of the 2019 competition will travel to Spain at the end of February 2020 for an invaluable groundscare work experience placement at the club’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in the run up to a major international game.

Working to raise awareness of academic rigour in turf management, the SALTEX College Cup is a fantastic way to reward those dedicated to and passionate about the industry while promoting the importance of education.

Commenting on the challenge, Dan Prest, Head of Member Services – Learning and Consultancy at the IOG, says: “This is a fantastic opportunity for turfcare students to witness the working practices at an elite venue and draw inspiration from Paul Burgess, a respected UK grounds manager. The winning team will have proven their knowledge in the competition and will also be able to add to their practical skills under the guidance of Paul and his team at Real Madrid.”

As companies dedicated to supporting the grounds sector and to encourage younger people into the industry, Toro and Reesink, an official Toro distributor in the UK, have teamed up with the IOG once again, to complement their successful partnership as sponsors of the IOG Young Board of Directors.

Reesink Turfcare’s marketing manager Rochelle Bedford says of the sponsorship: “By sponsoring the SALTEX College Cup, we are demonstrating Toro and Reesink’s long-term commitment to the development of the industry and providing valuable learning opportunities for the brightest young groundsmen out there, which we hope will help them further their careers. Young talent and excellence in the groundscare industry is where the future lies and this latest partnership with the IOG will, we hope, help ensure progression in the sector. We are delighted to be involved.”

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Wimbledon Visit For College Cup Winners

Wimbledon Visit For College Cup Winners: After winning the 2018 SALTEX College Cup, students from Bridgwater and Taunton College in Somerset, recently enjoyed their prize of a behind the scenes tour at The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), Wimbledon.

Simon Cook, Jacob Camplin, Ryan Tate and trainer/assessor Cary Rawlings experienced an unforgettable day when Neil Stubley, the AELTC’s Head of Courts and Horticulture, provided them with an in-depth look at court preparations the week before The Championships, Wimbledon took place.

Wimbledon Visit For College Cup Winners

Sponsored by Ransomes, the competition took place at SALTEX 2018 at the NEC in Birmingham, where the three Bridgwater and Taunton students competed against other UK-based horticultural colleges in an in-depth academic test of turf management knowledge.

Commenting on being involved in this extraordinary opportunity, college student Ryan Tate said: “The experience was really educational. I was very lucky to get to see turf management at the highest tier and I’ll really benefit from it.”

Fellow college student Simon Cook added: “It has been a real eye opener, especially getting the chance to speak to and learn from someone like Neil Stubley.”

“The attention to detail here at Wimbledon is incredible and I feel very lucky to have been here to witness it,” said Jacob Camplin. “We’ll be back at SALTEX this year to defend our title and we’re going for our second win so bring it on!”

Commenting on the SALTEX College Cup, Neil Stubley said: “I was fortunate to be invited to sit on the judging panel at the SALTEX College Cup in 2018 and it was a great experience to see up-and-coming grounds personnel with their key knowledge and their willingness to learn. I’ve enjoyed showcasing what we do to the winning team and explaining the challenges we have to work with to deliver exceptional surfaces for The Championships.”

The Wimbledon tour follows two extraordinary SALTEX College Cup prizes in previous years. In 2017 the winning students were part of the Wembley grounds team at the FA Cup Final and the 2018 winners enjoyed an unforgettable experience of helping with pitch preparations at the 2018 Six Nations Championships at BT Murrayfield Stadium.

Since its launch in 2017, the SALTEX College Cup has grown each year both in size and reputation, and Cary Rawlings believes that even more colleges should enter the competition.

“I can highly recommend the SALTEX College Cup to all colleges that are involved in delivering sports turf. It is a fantastic opportunity for young students to challenge themselves and it provides them with the opportunity to gain experience of delivering a presentation to industry professionals that will set them in good stead for future job interviews.

“It also gives a good overview of the knowledge that your students have taken on-board during their course and also highlights any areas that may need to be revisited.

“We are looking forward to entering again this year and I implore other colleges to participate in this event. It is not every day that your students get the opportunity to experience life behind the scenes at a major sporting event. Once the seed has been planted for something like this it will drive our future custodians of the industry on to bigger and better things.”

All colleges interested in participating in the 2019 SALTEX College Cup should email Dan Prest at dprest@iog.org for more details.

Toro and Reesink are the new 2019 sponsors of the SALTEX College Cup. The 2019 winners’ prize will be a trip to Real Madrid’s Bernabau Stadium.

For more information visit www.iogsaltex.com

Follow SALTEX on Twitter @IOG_SALTEX and Facebook – www.facebook.com/IOGSALTEX

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Ireland To Host 2026 Ryder Cup

Ireland To Host 2026 Ryder Cup: The Ryder Cup will return to Ireland in 2026 when Adare Manor, in County Limerick, hosts the biennial contest between Europe and the United States for the first time.

Ryder Cup Europe – which comprises the Managing Partner the European Tour, the Founding Partner the PGA of Great Britain and Ireland, and the PGAs of Europe – today announced the five-star resort will follow in the footsteps of Whistling Straits in Wisconsin (2020), Marco Simone in Italy (2022) and Bethpage Black in New York (2024) as the venue for golf’s greatest team contest.

Ireland To Host 2026 Ryder Cup

It means The Ryder Cup will be staged in Ireland for the second time, 20 years after The K Club hosted the 2006 contest when Team Europe – under the captaincy of Ian Woosnam and featuring three Irishmen who would go on to captain Europe over the next decade; Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley – memorably defeated the United States by a record margin of 18½ – 9½.

Guy Kinnings, European Ryder Cup Director, said: “We are delighted to announce The 2026 Ryder Cup will be staged in Ireland at Adare Manor which is a world class venue, both in terms of the golf course and the wider resort facilities.

“Today’s announcement would not have been possible without the support of An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Irish Government who are in receipt of our grateful and heartfelt thanks. Months of careful negotiation behind the scenes have seen us arrive at this point and we could not be happier to be able to take golf’s greatest team contest back to Ireland.

“Equally in receipt of our appreciation are Adare Manor owners JP and Noreen McManus and their entire team at the magnificent County Limerick venue. JP has shown unwavering support for golf and the European Tour over many years and we are delighted that Adare Manor will be the venue to showcase the next chapter in Ireland’s Ryder Cup story in seven years’ time.

“Aside from having provided three Captains over the past four editions, in addition to world-class talent such as Rory McIlroy, Irish players such as the late Christy O’Connor Jnr, Philip Walton, Eamonn Darcy, Graeme McDowell and Paul McGinley are intrinsically linked with providing Europe’s winning moments over the years.

“Added to that the fact that Irish golf fans are rightly recognised as some of the most knowledgeable and passionate in the world, as was shown during Shane Lowry’s emotional Open Championship triumph at Royal Portrush on Sunday, there was no question in our minds that the time was right.”

Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “This is a tremendously proud day for everyone at the European Tour and everyone associated with the island of Ireland and Irish golf. When we started the discussions with both the Irish Government and Adare Manor on this entire project they promised to deliver, and they have both done that today.

“Over the past few weeks we have seen truly wonderful golfing occasions at both Lahinch and Royal Portrush and I know such memorable scenes will be repeated in seven years’ time at Adare Manor. Ireland has golf in its DNA and especially in relation to The Ryder Cup.”

Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar T.D. welcomed the announcement stating: “I am delighted that Ireland will be the host of The Ryder Cup in 2026. It is great news for Ireland, and for County Limerick and the west of Ireland in particular.

“This news comes at the end of an historic week for golf on the island of Ireland, following the hugely successful hosting of the Open Championship by Royal Portrush Golf Club, and the historic victory by one of Ireland’s most popular sporting heroes, Shane Lowry.

“Shane’s victory is one of many great achievements by Irish golfers, not just in Major Championships but also in The Ryder Cup. Over the years, Irish captains and Irish players have played a huge role in the success of the European team.

“I am sure that when The Ryder Cup comes to Adare, we will see many more great sporting memories created, and great sporting friendships forged. It will be a fantastic occasion for everyone on the island of Ireland, and for the many visitors from both sides of the Atlantic who can look forward to another great Irish welcome.”

Commenting on the announcement, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross T.D. stated: “The passion of Irish people for golf across the island is well known and that was reinforced by the fantastic crowds at last Sunday’s Open Championship in Portrush and the joy at Shane’s great victory. Hosting The Ryder Cup here will be a great occasion for Irish golf and Irish tourism. The Ryder Cup in 2026 will be a must go event for golf fans when we expect thousands of overseas visitors to come to Ireland.”

The news was further welcomed by Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin, T.D. who stated: “It’s been a fantastic week for golf in Ireland following Shane Lowry’s heroic win in Portrush. The announcement of The Ryder Cup for Ireland in 2026 is further great news and is a wonderful honour for all of us in Ireland, North and South. It’s a special honour for the people of Munster, a province steeped in sporting culture, where this marvellous global event will be embraced by the people to make 2026 the greatest ever tournament in the history of The Ryder Cup.”

JP McManus, owner of Adare Manor, said: “I am delighted that the prestigious Ryder Cup will return to Ireland. We were very happy that Adare Manor was chosen as the venue for this world renowned tournament in 2026 and we look forward to welcoming our worldwide visitors.

“It is a wonderful tribute to the many great Irish golf ambassadors and success stories Ireland has had in golf over the years and a nice follow on from Shane’s momentous Open win on Sunday in Portrush. The nation was behind Shane, it was a great achievement and very well deserved.

“I am confident that the people of Ireland will get behind The Ryder Cup and take the opportunity to showcase Ireland on the world stage and ensure that The 2026 Ryder Cup will be an outstanding success.

“I hope the many tourist, golfing and business organisations will work together to identify all the opportunities for the benefit of The Ryder Cup, the Irish economy and across the south west community.”

Since Ireland last hosted The Ryder Cup in 2006, the biennial contest has extended its reach as one of the world’s leading sporting events.

Last year’s Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in France attracted more than 270,000 fans on course across the week – the largest attendance for a Ryder Cup held in Europe – with record social media engagement of more than 22 billion impressions globally.

The Ryder Cup also boosted economic activity in France by €235.7million – a significant increase compared to the £106 million of economic activity generated in Scotland in 2014 when Gleneagles hosted the contest.

Adare Manor, which was extensively renovated two years ago, hosted the Irish Open in 2007, a tournament won by Padraig Harrington two months before he went on to clinch the first of his two successive Open Championship titles at Carnoustie. The Irish Open was staged again at Adare Manor the following year in 2008 when Englishman Richard Finch triumphed.

The venue has also hosted the JP McManus Pro-Am in 2005 and 2010 and is scheduled to do so again next July, with confirmed participants already including Padraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose and Tiger Woods.

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The ClearWater Cup 2019

The ClearWater Cup 2019: Bishopswood Golf Club was the venue for this year’s CourseCare Cup held recently when the South Coast Greenkeepers played the Wessex Managers.

Bishopswood, a challenging 9 hole par 72 course receives very good reviews and 9 holes is certainly no indication of it being easy! Lee James and his greenkeeping team had ensured that this pleasant course was at its best. With an ideal day weather-wise for play, both teams set off with the Managers keen to prise the trophy away from the Greenkeepers.

The ClearWater Cup 2019

The Managers, captained by Burley’s Jane Harfield, did prevail and enjoyed an emphatic three matches to one win! Congratulations to them and commiserations to the Greenkeepers.

Matthew Mears, General Manager of Acumen’s ClearWater Division presented the ClearWater Cup to Jane Harfield and the day was rounded off by drinks and a meal for all with thanks given to Acumen for their sponsorship for this popular event.

The ClearWater Cup 2019

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Capillary Concrete & EcoBunker At Ryder Cup Venue

Capillary Concrete & EcoBunker At Ryder Cup Venue: The first phase of construction work has been completed on the rebuild of the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club course outside Rome, the venue for the 2022 Ryder Cup. This phase has seen the back nine of the golf course reconstructed, and the holes are now growing in. The front nine is to be rebuilt at a later date.

The construction crew provided by contractor SOL Golf, finished its work at the end of May. For the last three weeks of work, a specialist subcontract team from EcoBunker was on site installing about 500 metres of the company’s AquaEdge lake edging product on two separate ponds, one on the left of the home green, and the other to the front right of the sixteenth, with logistic and labour support from SOL. EcoBunker CEO Richard Allen, the creator of AquaEdge, says: “Dave Sampson, the course architect from European Golf Design, wanted to make the sixteenth into a feature hole, as he knows that more Ryder Cup matches end at the sixteenth than anywhere else. It’s a pretty drivable par four, downhill, with a huge spectator area around the green.”

Capillary Concrete & EcoBunker At Ryder Cup Venue

The bunkers of the back nine are shaped, but are planned to be finished in September, when they will be lined with the Capillary Concrete system and then filled with sand. Sampson himself specified Capillary Concrete for the course’s bunkers, having seen its performance elsewhere – including at Le Golf National in Paris, host to the recent 2018 Ryder Cup.

“The first phase of bunker works amounts to about 5,000 sq m of Capillary Concrete,” said the company’s European representative Kneale Diamond. “Construction of the second nine is expected to start as soon as the first nine holes are open – and to be finished by next May.”

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Two Ryder Cup Courses For EcoBunker

Two Ryder Cup Courses For EcoBunker: Working on a course for a Ryder Cup is a great achievement for any golf construction professional. To work on two in the space of a week, though, is pretty remarkable. But that’s what EcoBunker site manager Louis Palser will have done by the end of next week.

Louis has spent the last two days at Le Golf National in Paris, supervising EcoBunker’s part of the construction of the 2018 Ryder Cup venue’s new state of the art practice facility, which is being managed by golf consultant Alejandro Reyes (the former superintendent of Le Golf National). Flying directly from Paris to Rome, Louis moves on to the Marco Simone club, currently under reconstruction at the hands of European Golf Design architect Dave Sampson, in advance of its starring role in the 2022 Ryder Cup. There, for ten days, he will be working alongside EcoBunker’s top construction specialist Llewellyn Matthews installing EcoBunker’s AquaEdge lake edging product on the sixteenth and eighteenth holes.

Two Ryder Cup Courses For EcoBunker

Quite some going for a young man who is new to the golf business. Louis joined EcoBunker last year after studying civil engineering at Salford University, because ‘he wanted to use his construction knowledge, work outdoors and gain plenty of travel opportunities’, and spent 18 weeks last year on the company’s job at the new Dumbarnie Links in Fife, where he rose to be deputy site manager under Llewelyn Matthews. Now, he’s comfortable leading jobs, and has worked on EcoBunker projects in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and France.

EcoBunker CEO Richard Allen says: “With our contracting business growing rapidly we’ve had to invest in new construction management talent, and Louis has rapidly become an important part of our growth.”

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Greenkeepers’ Acclaim For Meeting Ryder Cup Challenge

Greenkeepers’ Acclaim For Meeting Ryder Cup Challenge: For years the greenkeepers have remained the ‘unsung heroes’ behind tournaments and big events. For sure this year’s Ryder Cup coverage was focused on the players and the matches, but there has been far wider acknowledgement of Le Golf National as perfect hosts, and unprecedented praise for the role of the greenkeeping team.

During his opening speech, European Captain, Thomas Bjorn, singled out Alejandro Reyes, Golf Course and Estates Manager at Le Golf National, with appreciation for his pivotal contribution in crafting the course setup. In the final euphoria, Ian Poulter took the time from his jubilant celebrations personally to meet, greet and embrace the greenkeeping team on the 18th green.

This time, the European Tour created its own promotional video of what goes on for course preparation behind the scenes. Other broadcasters and media took advantage of a peak into life in the greenkeeping sheds, to show video footage of turf management practices and personal experiences from the Turf Team Challenge website.

Greenkeepers’ Acclaim For Meeting Ryder Cup Challenge

Syngenta’s Daniel Lightfoot, using his Master Greenkeeper experience gained as Course Manager of Bearwood Lakes Golf Club, spent a full week with the LGN greenkeeping team in its preparations and over the full tournament.

“It has been a fantastic experience, to share such an incredible week with so many highly talented and fully committed greenkeepers,” he said. “And it has been very welcome that all the work has been so widely appreciated.”

Daniel believes volunteering at Le Golf National has been an extremely valuable experience for greenkeepers’ personal and career development.

“You get to learn new skills and techniques from the best in the business – both the resident teams on the course and from the other volunteer greenkeepers involved. But equally valuable is learning to work as a team and the great comradery and friendships that develop from meeting the challenges of preparing and delivering a great tournament venue.”

And it doesn’t get any bigger or better than Le Golf National. Alejandro Reyes himself has been a keen volunteer at events across the world, citing it brings a new perspective for greenkeepers, and can be an inspiration to introduce new things on their own courses.

“For sure, I love to do tournaments! Between the European Tour and the PGA Tour, I’ve lost count of the number of tournaments I’ve worked on. And every time you work on one you see something different,” said Alejandro.

“You get a picture of something and think ‘ah, that could work on my course’ or ‘we could do it better if we did it like this’.

“I am incredibly grateful for all the courses and superintendents who gave me the opportunity to see what they did through volunteering, so it’s a chance to give something back.”

Alejandro acknowledged it’s an investment in time for greenkeepers to be away from the course. “But the experience that they bring back is extremely valuable. Also it’s good for the team to welcome other people and to share experiences.”

Kerr Rowan, Course Manager at Sand Golf Club, near Jonkoping in Sweden, pointed out his key learn from working at Le Golf National has been to focus on attention to detail. “I think we run at a pretty high standard, then you come here and you think, ‘No we don’t!’. Out there it’s fantastic, so for me it’s about being a little bit more switched on.”

If there is one thing he’ll take back on the turf quality, it would be the incredible density of the turf surfaces across the Le Golf National course. “I’m just amazed by it. They’ve really tuned in their fertiliser strategy and it’s got me thinking a lot about fertiliser, brushing and density and watering and thinking, how can I be as good as here, or at least as good as I can be for the resources I have?”

Improving turf density, smoothness and consistency for players has been the key driver for using Primo Maxx II for Tournament preparation at Le Golf National. The team pointed ut that players would experience the same playing conditions and pace in the morning, as the last players out in the afternoon.

Lucas Pierre, Alejandro’s right-hand man and Head Greenkeeper for the Albatros Course, also reported the difference with the fairways this year using Primo Maxx II, compared to last year without.

“When you were cutting the fairway every day, you had to empty the box every five minutes; this year, it’s like the guys are saying ‘you never empty the boxes’ it’s perfect for us.

“You save on time; the quality of cut is better; turf looks better; you have better roll. We have more consistency. It really helps.”

For Lucas, the relationship he has developed with Syngenta has been very important. “For us, this could be one of the successes of the Tournament,” he said.

Managing such a big greenkeeping team – of some 180 volunteers and course greens staff – has been a challenge in itself. Stefan Carter, Senior Greenkeeper at Wentworth, highlighted the atmosphere had been fantastic.

“There’s been a lot of people, putting a lot of hours in. It’s a great bunch of guys and women from around the world. We all shared stories and shared experiences, which has really made it a happy place.”

He welcomed the chance to see the range of jobs involved and the opportunity to do a bit of everything.

“!t’s the way that they refine every detail and the finishing touches that sets it apart. To be part of the biggest golf event in the world has just been so fantastic,” reported Stefan.

“The networking here can change your career; it’s not just one week’s work, it’s a potentially life changing opportunity.”

For Swedish greenkeeper and mechanic, Johan Olsson, the mantra learned at his Le Golf National time has been to ‘check, check and check again’, just to make sure everything is set up precisely and will work perfectly and consistently out on the course.

“Then, when they’ve finished the morning session, it’s check it all again, ready for the evening. It’s just been the biggest thing you can experience, as a greenkeeper or mechanic.

“Watching 180 guys move out in the morning; it’s unbelievable, and something I can really recommend,” he added.

Wendy O’Brien, Golf Course Superintendent at Jurmala Golf Club in Latvia, highlighted just how much fun the whole greenkeeping team had, but also the opportunities for seminars and career development, along with the chance to glean the knowledge of others.

“For example, I have capillary concrete in my bunkers back home, so it’s been great to talk to others about their experiences and how they best manage them.”

She welcomed the professionalism of all the greenkeepers and organisational staff that had ctively encouraged and integrated women working on the team throughout the preparations. “We are all used to working as a minority group, but to be treated exactly the same and given the same responsibilities and jobs for our skills alone has been a great experience,” added Wendy.

Chloe Gallagher, of Sunningdale Golf Club, concurred. “Being part of a team with a dozen or more women has been really different and a great experience.

“It’s a fantastic industry for women and it’s given a showcase for what we can achieve. In the future the industry is going to be equal across the board, which I think is really good.”

South Africa’s Leopard Creek Country Club Golf Course Superintendent, Neville Wenhold, found the whole process of handling the pressure of a big tournament fascinating.

“Alejandro has made it a lot easier for us because he’s so professional at what he does. He makes it clear what expects from the team. He prefers for us to make sure that we are doing the right thing, rather than just pushing, pushing, pushing and making a mess along the line.

“He’s the key to everyone doing such a good job. The standard out here has been unbelievable. I’m taking a lot back home; new ways of doing things. It’s been really good learning from these guys.”

The BBC on-line commentary team summed-up the team’s performance perfectly at the end of the event:

“As the sun sets on Le Golf National, the Ryder Cup organisers are getting the presentation ready on the 18th green. The greenkeeper must be having kittens.…” “He deserves a pint or 10. What a course it has been this week. I’d say it’s the best course I’ve ever seen in a Ryder Cup. Let’s get it back again asap.”