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Keith Pelley at the GolfBIC conference

Keith Pelley at the GolfBIC conference: The European Tour has completed 20,000 Covid tests with just five positives since the outbreak of the pandemic. They have also spent £5 million on their health strategy.

That startling fact was revealed by European Tour CEO, Keith Pelley, speaking at the virtual GolfBic Conference.

Keith Pelley at the GolfBIC conference

Keith Pelley at the GolfBIC conference

“Our most valuable member of staff was Dr Andrew Murray, our Chief Medical Officer,” said Keith.

He also revealed how close the Tour came to having to refund money to the broadcasting companies as a result of not fulfilling its quota of events.

“At one point due to cancellations we only had eight events in 2020 with 30 events moved or cancelled and we needed to get to 32 to fulfil our broadcasting commitments.

“We did everything possible to be able to play. We introduced two UK swings in the summer and the autumn. We played at Celtic Manor twice and Cyprus twice and we played for 27 straight weeks including 23 regular Tour events. As we’d played 10 events before Covid we hit 33 and achieved our aim,” said Keith, who revealed that last year they furloughed 100 staff and laid off 60.

The 2021 season also carries its challenges with travel restrictions making moving around the world difficult, but the European Tour has recently partnered with the PGA Tour, who have taken a stake in European Tour Productions, and so the European Tour will soon be playing events in Florida.

“Last year I was petrified, but this year because we have shown how adaptable and innovative we can be I’m not remotely worried about making it work,” Keith told his on-line audience.

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Keith Gallacher Wins Sprayer Operator Award

Keith Gallacher Wins Sprayer Operator Award: The prestigious title of Amenity Sprayer Operator of the Year (ASOY) has been won by Keith Gallacher, Head of Complete Weed Control South West and East Scotland.

ASOY recognises and rewards top sprayer operators across the amenity industry. It aims to improve standards, by identifying the best practice of individuals to enhance results – and share their experiences across the industry.

Keith Gallacher Wins Sprayer Operator Award

Presented for the second time at BTME Harrogate this week (22 January 2019), the ASOY Awards are organised by the Amenity Forum, and sponsored by ICL and Syngenta, in association with BASIS.

As well as the overall top operator, Keith was the winner of the Landscape and Industrial using vehicle mounted equipment category.

Two other category winners were also recognised by the Awards. Ryan Shepherd of Hortech won Landscape and Industrial sprayer using a knapsack, while Andy Baker won the category for Sports turf using a boom sprayer or knapsack.

Keith has a wealth of industry experience and is an expert in all spraying methods. His clients range from local authorities, housing associations, golf courses to large facility companies and businesses within the construction industry. He predominantly undertakes highway spraying, but also has business operational responsibilities associated with running the Complete Weed Control South West and East Scotland franchise.

Keith commented “I take pride in best practice – it’s the culture that is bred within CWC and is encouraged from Head Office. We are a team of like-minded individuals that strive to be the best. For me, Professor John Moverley is an inspiration. I believe that our industry as a whole needs to get behind him and the work of the Amenity Forum.”

Commenting on Keith’s success, from a record entry in the fourth annual ASOY Awards, Professor John Moverley, Chairman of the Amenity Forum, said: ‘‘What is done to maintain amenity areas impacts upon every UK citizen every day and is important to ensure healthy and safe environments fit for purpose. This work depends upon the input of highly professional operators fully trained and qualified. A key element in the task is the use of authorised and safe chemical spraying.

The Amenity Forum Sprayer Operator of the Year Awards seek to highlight the very best practice and identify those individuals who go above and beyond in their work.

I congratulate all those who were shortlisted, the category winners and especially our overall winner this year – an excellent ambassador for the sector. Thanks also to our sponsors who make all this possible.”

ICL Landscape and Industrial Manager, Mark Pyrah, added: “As an organisation we recognise that high levels of professionalism and commitment to best practice are essential in order to ensure that products remain available.

Sprayer operators like Keith, and the other entrants of ASOY, who are not only able to spray accurately, but also demonstrate a professional stewardship of the products, are helping to raise standards across the amenity sector.”

Glenn Kirby, Syngenta Turf UK Technical Manager, highlighted that the Awards demonstrate the amenity industry’s positive approach to safe and sustainable spray application.

“Keith has shown he has outstanding skills and works to very high standards to achieve the best possible results. He has proved a successful winner by showing that best practice can deliver efficient, cost effective and, above all, safe amenity spraying.

“Syngenta recognises that the skills of the sprayer operator are paramount in achieving the full potential from all applications and assuring future sustainable use,” he added.

Stephen Jacob, BASIS CEO commented: “The safe and appropriate application of plant protection products is essential to maintaining the environment in which we live, and it’s clear that Keith is a true advocate of these principles.

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Tips From Keith Kent

Tips From Keith Kent: Grassroots rugby pitches across the country struggling to cope with the heavy rain that marked the start of 2018 and clubs risk losing crucial income. Keith Kent of NatWest RugbyForce has offered five useful tips.

The Rugby Football Union’s head groundsman Keith Kent has been in charge of tending to Twickenham Stadium’s hallowed turf since September 2002, having previously been head groundsman at Manchester United’s Old Trafford.

Tips From Keith Kent

As part of NatWest RugbyForce’s commitment to assisting grassroots rugby clubs across the country he has visited 108 grounds in the past two years: 48 in 2016, and 60 in 2017.

Clubs signing up to NatWest RugbyForce can apply for a Pitch Maintenance Kick Start grant of £5,000, plus support and advice from Kent and other experts on how to best invest that sum.

On top of that, Kent will travel to more clubs this year with RugbyForce because he is passionate about advising volunteer groundsmen how to improve the condition of their pitches, as he recognises the importance of the rugby club to the local community. Unplayable pitches mean clubs lose income and the community loses a focal point.

“For every visit I will walk all the pitches with the volunteer groundsman and carry a spade with me,” he says. “It might take one hour or three; it depends how many pitches there are.

“I use the spade to dig a hole in each pitch, and look at the root zones, see if there is any compaction, what type of soil it is, and whether it has got a good crumb structure or whether it is terrible clay.

“After completing my assessment I will sit down with the members of the club and provide them with a detailed, bespoke programme outlining what I would like them to do in the coming close season and throughout the season.

“I never criticise them, because those volunteers are the oil that turn the cogs of rugby in Britain. It’s hard work, but it is very rewarding.”

Keith Kent’s top five tips:

1 Aeration is the crucial factor

This is my No1 tip. If you don’t spike your pitch, the rainwater will not be able to drain, and the top surface will become very compacted. I advise groundsmen to aerate their pitches as often as possible. You can either hard-fork areas that have pooled water, as that is a simple and effective way to aerate.

At the other end of the scale you can use a Verti-Drain, which costs between £350 and £600 but will put thousands of holes in your pitch. Just imagine how quickly the water will drain.

2 Sanding: it’s pricey but RugbyForce can help

Following aeration the most important remedial work is proper sanding. I recommend spreading a minimum of 60 tonnes per pitch, and a maximum of 100 tonnes. Brush that sand into all those holes you have spiked, and think about how thousands of little arrow-shaped holes filled with sand will better drain.

It’s so simple but it works wonders. Sand is expensive, though – it can be £35 per tonne – but NatWest RugbyForce has a history of being very generous and helping out on this front.

3 Rye grass seed is best

Rye grass seed is the best we grow in this country to use on rugby pitches, because it is the hardest wearing. It bounces back and its recovery is amazing. Ideally you don’t want the grass to get any higher than 50mm, or about two inches.

4 Fertilise in autumn

Don’t forget to fertilise the grass seed. Grow it properly – don’t just seed it and feed it in the summer. Putting an autumn feed on, allied with an aeration, will really improve your pitch going into the dark winter months. That’s the key: it is prevention rather than cure.

5 Use the right tractor

I appreciate that a majority of clubs have volunteer groundsmen who might not tend to their pitches until the Friday before a game, so day-to-day maintenance is difficult. When I visit I look in their shed to see what implements they use. And I also quiz them on their tractor, if they have one.

Most of the clubs, especially those in the countryside, tend to have rather large tractors with agricultural tyres. This is not good practice as the cleats can cause a lot of damage and they tend to stay in the shed for the majority of the year during wet weather. Most of the time they will only use it once a year, in June, when the ground is dry enough.

The RFU has a number of suppliers who can help, such as Ransomes Jacobsen. The Sisis Quadraplay has four pieces of kit on it: a rake, a slitter, a brush and a roller. For just over £4,000 it has everything you need. If your club has a shiny new tractor with a Quadraplay on the back then it is amazing how many more volunteers you will generate.

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