Environmental protection remains a top priority at Vale do Lobo

Vale do Lobo is the largest luxury resort development in Portugal and features twoVale do Lobo 412
18-hole championship golf courses. The resort owners are conscious of their impact on their surroundings and are committed to maintaining the environmental equilibrium; and that’s one of the drivers behind their recent purchases of turf maintenance equipment with zero emissions at the point of use.

Year Opened: 1968 (first nine holes)
Location: Almancil, Portugal
Resort Technical Director: Eng. Luis Matos
Golf Courses Superintendent: Ignacio Coelho
Equipment: Jacobsen Eclipse 322 electric greens mowers (3);
Smithco  Super Star 48 volt electric bunker rakes (3)

HistoryCostain logo
Sir Richard Costain, managing director of the international construction company Costain, was a regular visitor to the Algarve in the early 1960s and being a scratch golfer decided he would like to build a course in the area. While visiting several sites he came across the Vale do Lobo (Valley of the Wolf), a dramatic area of land some 15 miles west of Faro.

Having purchased the land he now required an architect, so he chose his old school friend, Sir Henry Cotton, and together they drew up the first plans for the course, which were unveiled in 1962. At that time, the Algarve was mainly inhabited by farmers and fishermen but with the first nine holes opening in 1965 followed by a second nine holes and the construction of the five star Dona Filipa Hotel in 1968, that soon changed, especially when Faro International Airport opened that same year.

In 1971 the first ‘aldeamento’ (housing complex) was completed and the following yearVale do Lobo 371 the third nine hole course opened. Sander van Gelder, a Dutch entrepreneur, discovered Vale do Lobo while on holiday in the mid 1970s, and recognising its potential, bought the resort and moved to Portugal in 1977.

The Roger Taylor tennis centre opened in 1980 and in 1997, the construction of an additional nine holes saw the creation of the Royal and Ocean courses. Vale do Lobo celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2002, staging the Algarve Open de Portugal for the first time and the same year hosted its first ATP Seniors Tour event,  won by John McEnroe. The Algarve Open de Portugal returned for a second consecutive year in 2003.

Towards the end of 2006, the resort was sold to a group of Portuguese and international investors, including Portugal’s largest national bank, Caixa Geral de Depósitos.

The courses
Both courses at Vale do Lobo feature umbrella pine and fig tree-lined fairways that Vale do Lobo 434sweep down to the Atlantic; the par 72, 6,059 metre Royal course, designed by American golf architect Rocky Roquemore, based on the original drawings of Sir Henry Cotton, sits dramatically along the cliff’s edge. The 9th green is virtually an island and the famous 16th, with clifftop carry is one of the most photographed holes in Europe.

The Ocean Course, composed of the two original 9-hole golf courses designed by Sir
Vale do Lobo 426Henry Cotton, is a combination of links and parkland golf that provides enjoyable and alternative options for golfers of all standards. At 6,137 metres with a par of 73 it features gently undulating fairways which run alongside the nature reserve before leading gently down to the shores of the Atlantic. The 11th and 14th are challenging and spectacular par 4s and the par 3 15th runs alongside the beach.

The Resort’s ethos
One of the first people I met on my visit was Eng. Luis Matos, the Resort and Technical Director who has been associated with Vale do Lobo for over 41 years. During the short walk to the location of the photoshoot he explained the ethos of the resort.

“We are situated in an amazing area of 400 hectares bordering the Atlantic Ocean,” heVale do Lobo 411 said, “of which 75 hectares are dedicated to the golf courses. The courses are based on original concepts by the legendary Sir Henry Cotton and were re-developed by the respected American golf architect Rocky Roquemore.

“We are an ideal destination for golfers, second home owners and holiday makers, thanks to an exceptional climate, dramatic coastline, golden beaches, acclaimed restaurants, the golf courses and an impressive property portfolio. We are delighted to have hosted to the Portuguese Open on two occasions.

“The importance of the natural environment in Vale do Lobo has been a priority at the resort from the outset, with continuous innovation, infrastructure and services remaining essential in preserving the unique natural environment of the area. The overall aim of the resort is to balance the needs and desires of the residents and visitors, while also maintaining a philosophy of sustainable development.

“To ensure the successful environmental management of the Vale do Lobo golf courses, we are always looking to find new and innovative solutions to course maintenance and in keeping with this philosophy, we have recently acquired new equipment from the renowned Jacobsen brand, to allow the latest technology to be used to create harmony between the courses and the environment.”

Vale do Lobo 394

Golf Courses Superintendent Ignacio Coelho sitting on the Eclipse 322

New course maintenance equipment
Ignacio Coelho is the Golf Courses Superintendent at Vale do Lobo and has worked at the resort for the past 24 years and leads a team of 32 greenkeeping staff. With over 110,000 rounds of golf every year, the courses demand an impressive and dedicated team to keep them in pristine condition.

Speaking during the delivery of the three Jacobsen Eclipse 322s he said,Vale do Lobo 359
“We had a demonstration of the mowers just over a year ago and I was very impressed with the thinking behind their design. The battery packs which store the electricity have an automatic watering system, which makes them easy to maintain and the quality of cut on the greens is impressive. Obviously they are virtually silent when in operation and create no
emissions when being used around the resort.

“The other obvious benefit is that there is absolutely no chance of an hydraulic oil spill on the greens, because they are totally powered by electricity and have no hydraulic system. I made a serious business case for purchasing the equipment, presented it to our Finance Director, Luisa Salazar and to Luis Matos, and my recommendations were approved.

“Jacobsen sent one of their service engineers from the UK to install the Vale do Lobo 439machines, which was excellent as he could fully explain to my assistant, Luis Rebelo and our mechanic, some of the more detailed functions of the mowers.

“We have also taken delivery of three all-electric bunker rakes from the Smithco brand. These Super Star 48 volt rakes, together with the new Jacobsen machines, combine efficiency with minimal noise pollution to allow for a greater quality of life for the residents, while equally respecting the environment. Everyone at Vale do Lobo is proud to be once again working towards a cleaner and more environmentally friendly future.”

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A Canadian Calling

Superintendent Ian McQueen living his dream at Toronto-area course

Islington Golf Club At-A-Glance

Year Opened: 1926
Location: Toronto, Canada
Superintendent: Ian McQueen
Turf: Poa annua on the greens, Providence & 007 bentgrasses in the fairways and mix of bluegrass, fescue, rye and poa in the rough
Equipment: Jacobsen ECLIPSE2 122F walking greens mowers (6); Jacobsen ECLIPSE 322 riding greens mowers (2); Jacobsen SLF-1880 fairway mowers (3) and Cushman Turf-Trucksters (3)
Ian McQueen, Superintendent of Islington Golf Club in Toronto, Canada. Of being a superintendent, McQueen says, "It's all I've ever done and all I ever will do."

Ian McQueen, Superintendent of Islington Golf Club in Toronto, Canada. Of being a superintendent, McQueen says, “It’s all I’ve ever done and all I ever will do.”

Some superintendents end up in the business by chance. Others take a side door through a related business or industry. And there are the guys for whom the profession is a calling. Ian McQueen, Superintendent of Islington Golf Club in Toronto, Canada, is one of those guys.

“I fell in love with this industry at 14 years of age,” said McQueen. “It’s all I’ve ever done and all I ever wanted to do.”

After receiving a turfgrass degree from Penn State and completing an internship in the Baltimore area, McQueen became superintendent at a private club with a single owner. Fast forward to now, McQueen answers to 500 members at Islington – a job that can be just as challenging as managing bentgrass in tundra-like conditions.

“Working for a board was a learning curve for me because you have so many different opinions,” said McQueen. “Sharing information with our board and members has been a great way for them to really understand what we do and our unique needs.”

McQueen frequently posts on his turf blog and Twitter (@IanMcQueenIGC) to keep members aware of course updates. He says social media has been instrumental in fostering a great relationship between the members and turf staff.

“We had a flood in early July of last year and then an incredibly challenging winter,” said McQueen. “We lost a green to the flood and the rest were decimated by an ice storm in December. But our members knew about it from our constant flow of communications. They could see with their own eyes from the pictures just how bad things were. Because they were well informed on what we were facing, the board voted to completely rebuild our 90-year-old push-up greens at a $1.1 million price tag.”

Islington's push-up greens are currently being rebuilt to USGA specs. The drainage and gravel layer of green no. 2 (seen above) were recently installed.

Islington’s push-up greens are currently being rebuilt to USGA specs. The drainage and gravel layer of green no. 2 (seen above) were recently installed.

The renovations have already begun at Islington, which is getting all-new USGA greens. It will be a huge upgrade for the course, which competes for members with several other Toronto-area courses. Islington currently has 550 members.

Islington’s membership will get in around 30,000 rounds of golf a year, which is down from 36,000 a few years ago. It’s an impressive number considering the course is only open six months out of the year.

“We’re changing some of the sloping of the greens to keep up certain green speeds,” says McQueen. “Now that the height-of-cut is much lower than twenty years ago, the slopes that are about six degrees need to be changed to two or three while maintaining the general shape of the green as a whole.”

One of three Jacobsen SLF-1880 fairway mowers used at Islington. McQueen likes the machine's lighter weight and ability to cut right up to the approaches.

One of three Jacobsen SLF-1880 fairway mowers used at Islington. McQueen likes the machine’s lighter weight and ability to cut right up to the approaches.

McQueen uses a fleet of Jacobsen ECLIPSE2 122F greens mowers to maintain his greens.

“I’ve had Jacobsen walkers for about a decade because I think they’re the best on the market,” said McQueen. “I love that you can control the frequency-of-clip. During peak season, we set the FOC and HOC the same, about .110. This gets us a pretty consistent roll of 10-10.5’, which is ideal for members.”

“We use the Jacobsen SLF-1880 fairway units to mow the traditional half-moon style,” said McQueen. “I really like the light weight of the SLF-1880, they can mow right up to the approaches without a problem. I have three but plan to get two more.”

“I think the keys to success here at Islington are consistency and communication,” said McQueen. “If you can present consistently good conditions and communicate everything you’re doing to your members, you create a winning environment.”

“I think the keys to success here at Islington are consistency and communication,” said McQueen. “If you can present consistently good conditions and communicate everything you’re doing to your members, you create a winning environment” ~Ian McQueen, Superintendent of Islington Golf Club, Toronto, Canada

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Seaside golf since 1934

Rya Golfklubb is an 18-hole coastal golf course, situated
8 km south of Helsingborg onRya 3618 the Swedish shore of the Öresund, the body of water that separates the eastern seaboard of Denmark and the southwestern coast of Sweden. Founded in 1934 it is one of the top 20 golf courses in the country; a good reason for Jacobsen to pay a visit earlier this year.

Founded in 1934 as Helsingkrona Golfklubb, the first nine hole course was constructed at Örby meadows on the outskirts of Helsingborg. Carl-Erik Nordgren was the club’s first professional and greenkeeper, but the popularity of the club quickly outgrew the nine holes and new land was sought as a matter of urgency.

The original clubhouse

The original clubhouse

A new area of land was purchased further down the coast in 1935 and a 13-hole course built, the Club’s name was changed in 1936 to Rya Golfklubb and the following year it became the 19th member of the Swedish Golf Federation. In 1946 the club became a limited company and a further four holes were added.

Following the purchase of additional land, the remaining five holes were completed over the next 10 years producing a course that measured 5,016 metres from the white tees. Rafael Sundblom was the driving force behind the development at this time and the club hosted numerous championships.

In 1970 a new clubhouse was completed and further land purchased, new holes 11 through 14 were constructed, which enabled the driving range to be enlarged and alterations to several other holes, increasing the length of the course by 415 metres. However, the opening of the new holes was delayed until 1971 due to an unusually harsh and severe winter.

Renovation and refurbishment of the former holes
11, 12 and 14 started in 1982, Rya 4522613including  the much-criticized 14th green.  The clubhouse was extended, neither the first nor the last time that this happened! In 1993 a task force was established to lead Rya into the new millenium and another major redevelopment and extension of the clubhouse was completed, but the planned construction of a machinery maintenance facility was postponed until 1994.

The Club’s fortunes waned over the next 10 years and debts were accumulated with monies owed to the local community and financial institutions. Something had to happen, so the board took the decision to offer members a shareholding in the Club. This was offered to all members with 1,129 accepting and the club becoming Rya Golf AB in 2005.

The resulting influx of funds cleared the debts and allowed the Club to introduce a Master Plan for the future including the construction of three new holes, under the guidance of the British golf course architects Hawtree Ltd, and the modernisation of the entire course maintenance fleet.

The board consists of six members, all serving for two years, but they can be re-elected at the end of their term. A four-person committee selects candidates for office; however in the interest of continuity, the current chairman has been in the role since 2004. Three new board members were elected in 2013.Rya 286

At the time of my visit Magnus Sunesson, a former European Tour professional from 1987-1994, was the Club’s manager. Although he never won a major tournament, his time on the tour was memorable and enjoyable. He finished 4th four times and 12th in the Open at Royal Birkdale in 1991.

He rubbed shoulders with some of the great European professionals and played in the same group as Bernhard Langer on the final day of the Madrid Open in 1991, Gordon Brand Jr in the BMW PGA event at Wentworth in 1992 and Ian Woosnam at the European Open at Sunningdale in 1993. In 1989 he played only Swedish tournaments and won a total 250,000 Swedish Krone.

He was appointed Head Professional at Royal Drottningholm Golfklubb, west of Stockholm in 1995, a position he held until 1998. During this time he worked for the Swedish Golf Association (SGA) as a part-time coach to the Boys’ national team and coached other teams at all levels.

SGAlogo

The SGA has its own commercial company, SGF Affärsutveckling AB, which works to promote the sport to businesses who want to be associated with golf, which in turn creates more resources for the sport.

While working for SGF in 1999 he got involved with Hello Sweden, an organisation that links Swedish sports with Swedish business. It looks at both promising young sportspeople and established stars and offers support to help them excel. It has produced produced golfers such as Henrik Stenson, Peter Hansen and Christen Nielsen, all of whom Magnus coached in 2004.

Thoughts of a return to the European Tour had been percolating in Magnus’s mind so in 2005 he attempted a comeback, winning a pre-qualifying tournament for the Open at Royal Ashdown Forest, when he shot a course record of 67, but in the final quailfying event at Irvine he was one of 90 players competing for just four places and failed to qualify.

In 2006, he decided to try his hand at golf commentary on television and auditioned with French-owned broadcaster Canal Plus along with 23 other hopefuls and secured one of the four places on offer. Most commentating was undertaken from a small studio in Copenhagen with live video feed from the competitions, but he did get to visit a couple of tournaments, including one in Dubai. His enjoyable career as a TV commentator continued until 2011.

Magnus takes up the story from here.

“The former manager at Rya resigned suddenly
and I saw an advertisement in a local golf magazine,” he said. “Friends encouraged me to apply, so I spoke to the former manager, applied, was invited for an interview, then another and three weeks later was offered the job. I began my new career here at Rya on 2 April 2012.

“We are a progressive club with high ambition and everyone is behind the board in making it happen. We now have almost 1,300 members, of which 150 are juniors, who cannot become shareholders until they are 18. We have planning permission for 20 homes on land we own adjacent to the course and are awaiting proposals from interested parties.

“Our main priority now is to improve the quality of
the course, which will encourageRya 4522709 more people to visit us. We welcome guests from all over the world and our goal is to be up amongst the best seaside golf courses in Europe and a viable alternative to Ireland and Scotland. I appreciate it’s a lofty goal, but it has the support of everyone at the club.”

My next stop was at the impressive maintenance facility, which was full of Jacobsen equipment following the signing of a recent preferred supplier agreement with local distributor Gräsvårdsmaskiner (GVM) of Malmo.

Head greenkeeper Brian Petersen came out to meet me
and invited me to jump on a Rya 283buggy for a tour of the course. Like all Scandinavians, his command of English was excellent and he began by providing some facts and figures for the course.

“We  had more than 29,000 member rounds and 6,000 green fees last year, so in excess of 35,000 rounds,” he said. “I have seven staff in total during high season plus a full-time mechanic, so a big enough team to keep ahead of the golfers.

“We plan to increase the definition across the course by raising the height of cut in all areas; for example we are mowing the greens at 3mm producing 9.5 to 10 on the stimpmeter and can get that up to 12.5 for club championships. We are drilling and filling the greens to get better soil exchange and bringing Rya back to its seaside roots. We want to preserve the history, but with subtle changes.

“The need for a long-term relationship with
a trusted supplier was the prime reason forRya 255
changing our machinery fleet. The quality and performance of the Eclipse greens mower was a major selling point and changing its frequency of cut and then rolling with the Smithco greens roller enables us to get championship green speed.

“Rafael Sundblom, who was probably the first modern golf course architect in the Nordic Countries, and he was responsible for the majority of original holes here. He was involved in over 30 golf projects throughout his career and his most famous course design was Halmstad Golfklubb, which opened in 1938 and hosted the Solheim Cup in 2007.”

My visit concluded with an invitation to lunch in the modern, contemporary clubhouse, where Magnus Sunesson reiterated the ambition of the club.

“We are a long established club, as you can see from our history, but our goal is to be the premier seaside club in Sweden. This is a significant challenge, but we believe that building strong and lasting partnerships with trusted suppliers is the way forward. The preferred supplier agreement with GVM is typical of the approach we are taking; one that is beneficial to both parties in the long term.”
Rya 4522726Rya 248

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Unique by Design

Texas club features classic Tillinghast design along with natural grass tennis courts

Oak Hills Country Club At-A-Glance

Year Opened: 1922
Location: San Antonio, TX
Superintendent: Craig Felton
Turf: Champion bermuda grass on the greens; 419 bermuda grass in the fairways and the roughs
Equipment: Jacobsen Greens King 522 walking greens mowers (11); Jacobsen ECLIPSE 322 riding greens mowers (4); Jacobsen LF570 fairway mowers (3); Jacobsen AR-522 contour rotary mowers (4); GA-24 aerator; Cushman Turf-Truckster (2)
Craig Felton has been the Superintendent at Oak HIlls Country Club in San Antonio, Texas for over ten years.

Craig Felton has been the Superintendent at Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio, Texas for over ten years.

Although there are nearly 20 U.S. golf courses with ‘Oak Hills’ in their name, Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio stands out among the tall trees with a truly unique and colorful history.

Designed by A.W. Tillinghast and opened in 1922, Oak Hills Country Club is no stranger to the spotlight.  The club has hosted a total of 35 PGA TOUR events, with winners including Arnold Palmer, Hale Irwin, Lee Trevino, Ben Crenshaw and Nick Price.

For the last ten years, Craig Felton has watched over Oak Hills as the Superintendent.  Like the course, Felton’s golf lineage also runs deep, with stops along the way at clubs in Austin, Texas and Birmingham, Alabama.  He was also a superintendent at New Orleans Country Club for three years after working at a private club in Houston.

Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio is one of the few golf courses in the U.S. that finishes both 9s with a par 3.

Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio is one of the few golf courses in the U.S. that finishes both 9s with a par 3.

“Oak Hills is a very classic course, a very prototypical Tillinghast design but also very unique,” said Felton.  “It’s one of the few golf courses in the entire country that finishes both 9s with a par 3.”

But even with the course’s uniqueness and classic design, the course finds it difficult to compete with some of San Antonio’s newer private clubs.

“Player expectations have never been higher.  Our last golf course renovation took place thirty years ago.  As a result, it’s hard to keep up with more modern courses,” said Felton.  “The course is just 6,765 yards total and landlocked, so it would be difficult to lengthen the course.  But we make the best of it here at Oak Hills and I think our members appreciate that.”

Craig Felton is one of the few turf managers in Texas to maintain natural grass tennis courts.

Craig Felton is one of the few turf managers in Texas to maintain natural grass tennis courts.

Another unique amenity that keeps Felton busy is two Champion bermuda grass tennis courts.

“We’re one of the only clubs in Texas with natural grass tennis courts,” said Felton.  “We put a lot of work into them: mowing every day in the summer, verticutting/topdressing once a week and aerifying three times a year.  Ironically, we spend more time maintaining them than people play on them.  You have to be a pretty good player to enjoy the grass courts.”

Felton has been a loyal Jacobsen customer for over a decade and he even attended the manufacturer’s Future Turf Managers event back in 1989 when it was held in Racine, Wisconsin.

A Jacobsen AR-522 contour rotary mower trims around a tree at Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio, Texas.

A Jacobsen AR-522 contour rotary mower trims around a tree at Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio, Texas.

“We’re pretty much wall to wall Jacobsen here and have been for a while,” said Felton.  “We’ve got Greens King 522 walkers on the greens, which give an unbelievable quality-of-cut.  We also use the ECLIPSE 322s primarily for verticutting, but I also wanted the flexibility of using them for mowing when needed because the cut quality is so good – it’s almost like walking.

“I’ve noticed that new Jacobsen President David Withers is bringing new energy to the company and helping Jacobsen go in the right direction,” said Felton.  “On the local level, our dealer C&M goes above and beyond to get what we need here and that means a lot.

“I’d love to spend the rest of my career here at Oak Hills, but these days superintendents really don’t control their own destiny anymore.  But I love what I do and can’t imagine doing anything else.”

I’d love to spend the rest of my career here at Oak Hills, but these days superintendents really don’t control their own destiny anymore.  But I love what I do and can’t imagine doing anything else.” ~Craig Felton, Superintendent of Oak Hills Country Club, San Antonio, Texas

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First student cohort graduates from WINSTONuniversity

Winstonuniversity 162WINSTONuniversity is based at the WINSTONgolf 45-hole facility at Gneven Ot Vorbeck in Mecklenburg, northern Germany and opened its door to the first intake of European and international students in October 2013. Featuring two 18-hole championship courses – WINSTONlinks, designed by David Krause and WINSTONopen, plus the Par-3 course WINSTONkranich – the resort is ranked amongst the top facilities in Europe. (Please note that the house style of any WINSTON related course or entity features the initial word in capitals with the subsidiary word in lowercase; it is not a spelling error!)

Five year agreement

Winston 135A-small

Signing of the five-year exclusive supplier agreement are Jenny Elshout, Managing Director, WINSTONgolf; Hubertus von Treuenfels, CEO, WINSTONuniversity and Rupert Price, Sales Director, Ransomes Jacobsen

In late autumn 2012, Ransomes Jacobsen signed an exclusive agreement to supply WINSTONuniversity with a range of equipment to support the teaching curriculum at the new international golf course and club management education centre of excellence in Germany.

Under the terms of the five-year exclusive supply agreement, Ransomes Jacobsen provides equipment to facilitate the teaching of a greenkeeping-based curriculum involving both classroom and on-course practical instructions. We have also agreed to provide staff from our Cutting Edge Training division for specialist teaching and that every cohort of students will visit our European headquarters in Ipswich at least once a year.

Winstonuniversity 038Through our German distributor Golf-Tech GmbH of Munster, Jacobsen have committed to provide tournament support machinery and personnel for the Pon Senior Open, a European Tour event, over a three year timescale as well as supporting the university’s recruitment programme.

Hubertas von TreuenfelsCommenting at the signing of the agreement back in 2012, Hubertus von Treuenfels, CEO of WINSTONuniversity said,
“As a privately funded, golf management institute we aim to develop the leadership capabilities required around the world to ensure the game of golf has a successful future. We have designed an educational model of problem-based learning that will encourage students to create solutions that will develop a detailed understanding of the management of fine turf. Initially for the golf sector, this learning system will be broadened to embrace other sports and perhaps, other business sectors in the future.”

Ian Butcher, former International Development Officer at Elmwood College, is the Programme Director at WINSTONuniversity and said,
“Our target audience for the initial cohort of students will be primarily from the emerging markets in golf, such as China, the Asia Pacific region and eastern Europe, although we welcome students from the major golfing nations in western Europe and the USA.

Winston 002A“This is an exciting opportunity as both WINSTONuniversity and Ransomes Jacobsen believe wholeheartedly in growing the game of golf and in the provision of skills and techniques necessary for the next generation of fine turf professionals across the globe to flourish and develop long-term careers.”

Graduation

That was then, at the start of partnership; now move forward to
the present and the first cohort of 12 students have graduated. For six months they stayed at Gut Vorbeck, unlikely student accommodation as it is a superbly appointed former manor house, built in 1912 and completely restored and remodelled in 2010. A new dining facility, adjacent to Gut Vorbeck, was completed in time for the first intake and an interesting exchange of cultures saw the Chinese students preparing meals for the Europeans and vice versa.

And there was probably no better location for the graduation ceremony than at ‘The Home of Golf’ at St. Andrews in Scotland. The cosmopolitan group from 11 countries around the world stayed at the Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort and Spa located adjacent to the famous 17th ‘Road’ hole.

Professor Al Turgeon, Walter Woods and Ian Butcher

Professor Al Turgeon, Walter Woods and Ian Butcher

Guest of honour Walter Woods, who for 21 years served as the Superintendent at the St. Andrews Links Trust and who is one of the founding fathers of the British & International Golf Greenkeepers’ presented the diplomas and Professor Al Turgeon, the renowned specialist in turf grass management and a visiting lecturer at WINSTONuniversity, travelled from the U.S. to Scotland to congratulate the graduates.

Graduation-Students Swilcan BridgeThe visit to St. Andrews was the culmination of six months of a unique education for golf course and club managers at WINSTONuniversity. During the trip to Scotland the group gained new insights in the maintenance of world class courses, such as the Duke’s Course owned and managed by the Old Course Hotel as well as the links of Kingsbarns, where they also had an opportunity to play the courses.

Stop-over in Ipswich

Graduation visit JacobsenOn the journey from Germany to Scotland the group made a stop-over at our headquarters in Ipswich where they were able to see how commercial mowing equipment is manufactured, beginning with sheet metal entering the production process at one end of the facility and completed mowers rolling of the production lines at the other end.

On this particular occasion they were fortunate to meet Dr. Frank Rossi of Cornell University, who was over in the UK to lecture at the Jacobsen-sponsored Future Turf Managers’ programme, an education initiative for deputy greenkeepers who are looking to reach the next level in their careers.

Earlier in the year, the students spent a month in Portugal, hosted by Orizonte Golf, operators of seven courses in the greater Lisbon area, to experience the challenge of golf resort management in a different climate.

Quality education

Frank Ahern, one of the first graduates to complete the WINSTONuniversity course said,
“We not only learnt about turf and resource management, but also gained a solid background in the economics and strategic marketing of golf courses. I can only advise anyone who sees their future in golf course management to apply for the next cohort at WINSTONuniversity.”

Ian ButcherProgramme Director Ian Butcher added,
“Proof of how much our graduates are sought after is demonstrated by the fact that all the graduates are now working in the industry, either having returned to their clubs such as Crecy Golf Club in Paris, or found internships or residencies at US Open venue Baltusrol or Loch Lomond in Scotland. Engelmann, a leading golf course maintenance company with clients all over Germany and Austria, also took three of our alumni.

“The business challenges facing golf means there is a greater need amongst future leaders for understanding across the various career paths, in the Pro Shop, Clubhouse and of course in the core business, the golf course itself. What was interesting with this first cohort was to see the professional players and course managers exchanging skills.

“Our curriculum reflects these challenges and encourages a combined strategic approach, as demonstrated by our assignment working for the Orizonte Golf Group in Portugal, recommendations which included resource management, marketing initiatives and course management solutions. Throughout the six-month program we teach solely by case study, and develop problem solving and communication skills. The courses will be enhanced next year with more practical applications in conjunction with the WINSTONgolf course management, led by Andy Matzer.

“Secondly WINSTONuniversity is as engaged with its graduates following their careers as when they were studying with us on the program. As they continue to complete innovative and project orientated assignments around the world they begin to have a positive impact on golf development in their respective countries. Our partnerships, teaching teams and international networks all combine to fast track individuals into leadership and management.”

New student applications

Vehicle logo 176The application process for the second course at WINSTONuniversity, starting in October 2014, is now open. The programme can take just 20 students and CEO Hubertus von Treuenfels is comfortable that he will be in a position to select the best applicants.

“We are confident that we have the curriculum that prepares students for the real world”, he said, “and while confident that we will fill all the places I would like to stress that we do not want to deter anyone from applying for the new semester which will start in October 2014 and run until the end of March 2015.“

Rupert Price, Sales Director at Ransomes Jacobsen concluded saying,
“We are delighted to be involved with this innovative educational programme. We are committed to training on a global scale, across our business and also imparting knowledge around the world.

“Golf-Tech, our German distributor, was instrumental in setting up this agreement and has played an important role liaising with the team at WINSTONuniversity as well as providing the equipment that is being used in much of the learning process.

“I am particularly keen to encourage students from the emerging nations, as we believe that the way forward in these countries is for the indigenous people to become highly skilled in the art of fine turf management. If you are interested I would recommend that you contact WINSTONuniversity as soon as possible.”

Winstonuniversity 041

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Asia’s ultimate destination for a premier golf experience

Petronas Twin Towers in downtown Kuala Lumpur
Petronas Twin Towers in downtown Kuala Lumpur

Renowned as Asia’s ultimate destination for a premier golf experience, Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club (KLGCC), is home to 100,000 golfing rounds a year and is host to numerous international championships. Jacobsen visited this sumptuous facility, which is situated in the unspoilt landscape of Bukit Kiara, just 8 km away from the heart of Malaysia’s capital city.

The History

Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club is a proprietary club wholly owned and operated by KLGCC Berhad. At its inception in 1991, KLGCC Berhad was incorporated as a private limited company and on 15th December 1992 changed its name to Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club Sdn. Bhd. and became a public company. In 1997 the Club was acquired by Sime Darby, Malaysia’s leading multinational conglomerate with interests in five core sectors: plantations, property, industrial, motors, and energy and utilities. Additionally, the company has a growing presence in the healthcare sector.

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The imposing clubhouse

The club opened in 1991 and features two stunning 18-hole golf courses, the East course and the West course, both designed by Hong Kong-based architects Nelson & Haworth. On arrival you are greeted by the elegant architecture of the clubhouse, designed by William Moisson in the graceful Spanish style of Southern California and situated within a stunningly picturesque landscape.

The Courses

At 6,071 metres from the back tees, the East Course is parkland style, with vibrant and highly colourful landscaping. The design takes full advantage of the gently undulating contours with indigenous grasses and extensive wetlands providing natural habitats for numerous species of wildlife and birds. It features impeccably maintained fairways and greens, challenging elevation changes and an environment that enhances the essence of the local terrain.

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The Maybank Malaysian Open is scheduled to return in 2014

The West Course is the longer and the more challenging of the two courses and at 6,372 metres from the tournament tees, it is the ideal venue for the major tournaments hosted by the club every year. The Malaysian Open was the first co-sanctioned event between the European and Asian Tours in 1999 and was held on the West course in 2006.

After the completion of the 2006 Malaysian Open, the West Course was extensively reconstructed over a period of eighteen months by Kuala Lumpur-based E&G Parslow and Associates. The result was a tougher West Course, which reopened in October 2008 and now features a new lake on hole 9 and extensions to the previous watercourses resulting in water hazards on no fewer than thirteen holes.

Both courses are in spectacular condition and this has contributed to a number of accolades for the club, the latest in 2013 include Expatriate Lifestyle magazine’s Best of Malaysia Awards 2013 – Best Golf Experience in Malaysia; Asian Golf Monthly Awards 2013 – Best Course in Malaysia (West Course); and Asian Golf Monthly Awards 2013 – Runner-Up for Best Championship Course (West Course).

The club has played host to several major tournaments including The Maybank

Lee Westwood, winner of the 2014 Maybank malaysian Open

Lee Westwood, winner of the 2014 Maybank Malaysian Open

Malaysian Open, which returned in 2010 and is now firmly situated in the club’s calendar with the hosting of the event in 2011, 2012, 2013 and recently in 2014, when Lee Westwood was the victor.  It has also been the home venue of the Sime Darby LPGA tournament since 2010 and again will be hosting the CIMB Classic.

The CIMB Classic tournament is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the PGA Tour and is the first event sanctioned by the PGA Tour in Southeast Asia. Now that it has official status on the PGA tour, the field has been increased to 78 and it qualifies for FedEx Cup points. American golfer Ryan Moore won the 2013 tournament, winning US$ 1,260,000 in the process.

The Superintendent

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Course superintedent Nizam Othman

The man responsible for the management of the two courses is Nizam Othman, Course Superintendent, who has been at KLGCC for six years, the last four as superintendent. He is responsible for an incredible 180 staff, 90 of whom are involved in golf course maintenance and a further 90 looking after the grounds and landscaping.

After obtaining a degree in Sports Turf Management from a New Zealand university, he began his career in 1994 at Tanjong Puteri Golf Resort in Johor, before moving on to Kota Permai Golf and Country Club in 1996, 20 kilometres southwest of Kuala Lumpur. After honing his turf management skills for the next 11 years, in 2007 he moved to KLGCC and in 2009 was appointed to the role of Course Superintendent.

Loyalty to the Jacobsen brand

The club is a loyal customer to the Jacobsen brand and has an extensive array of mowers and other turf maintenance equipment. The maintenance facility has to be one the most impressive in all of Asia, but more of that later.

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A Jacobsen Eclipse 122 preparing a green ahead of the Maybank Malaysian Open

The greens are hand cut with eight Jacobsen Eclipse 122 walking greens mowers, all with floating heads, to closely follow the contours of the undulating surfaces. Four Greens King IV riding triplex mowers are used around the aprons and 16 PGM 522’s are available for the tees. Jacobsen’s superlight SLF 1880’s manicure the fairways and TR3’s keep the surrounds and semi-rough under control. Completing the mowing equipment are two AR3 three-deck and two AR250 five-deck contour rotaries for the rough.

During the remodelling of the courses, additional bunkers were added; there are now 96 on the West and 118 on the East and these are maintained with four Jacobsen Groom Master bunker rakes. Smaller areas requiring aeration are tackled using a pedestrian Jacobsen GA24, with a Toro ProCore 628 used for larger areas.

The crew use 10 Cushman Turf-Trucksters for general duties around the courses and two dedicated Spraytek rigs. Four Smithco Spray Star’s complete the spraying line up and there’s also a Turfco WideSpin 1530 and two Vicon spreaders for applying top dressings.

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With 36 holes, one course can be taken out of play occasionally for extensive maintenance work

“There’s a tremendous amount of pressure on the playing surfaces here,” said Nizam, “not only from the increasing number of tournaments we are hosting, but also from the increasing number of rounds played by members and visitors. We are fortunate that with 36 holes we can take one of the courses out of play on occasions to undertake maintenance work.

“I obviously need quality equipment that’s reliable and we are fortunate to have Jacobsen as our preferred supplier. Without a doubt the Eclipse 122 is an excellent greens mower; in my opinion far better than any other competitor machine. Also the SLF1880 fairway mowers do a very good job for us. Because of its lighter footprint we get less compaction and the 18” wide cutting units provide a smaller stripe, which suits our fairways perfectly. Needless to say, the quality of cut from the Jacobsen reels is second to none! Similarly, Rain Bird supply our irrigation system and equipment.”

The Grass Species

Both courses feature Paspalum Supreme on the greens and Paspalum Salam on the remaining grassed areas. The greens are maintained at 2.9mm height of cut; the tees at 8mm and fairways at 10mm. The semi-rough areas are kept at 22mm and the rough at 50mm

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Presentation across the two courses is highly important

“The selection of grass species is crucial; it must be suitable to the prevailing climate, to the budget and, above all, it must produce playing surfaces that keep both the players and management happy,” Nizam added. “Our aeration programme includes using needle tines on the green every two weeks and we hollow core twice a year, in February and again August.  For tournaments the PGA demand 11 on the stimpmeter and we will double cut and roll to achieve the desired increase in speed.”

KLGCC has a range of nationalities across its staff and for the golf course and landscaping activities employs 65 locals, the remainder being Bangladeshi and other Asian ethnicities. Training is a hugely important factor and all staff will be able to multi-task, to some degree or another. This provides flexibility for the management team and a higher sense of involvement among the employees.

The Staff and Training

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Every staff member gets at least 4 hours training per month

“Every member of staff gets a minimum of 4 hours training a month,” said Nizam, “and that can take the form of on-the-job or classroom based here at KLGCC or we send them out for external courses with specialist training facilitators. We also review standard operating procedures every week to ensure that everyone is fully aware and up-to-date with what we are doing and what is expected of them.

“Of one thing I am certain, we need more education for superintendents here in Southeast Asia; some are reluctant and do not expose themselves to further knowledge. Leadership and management skills are vital in the process of educating other members of the team. I know Jacobsen are getting more involved in training in this part of the world and that can only be a good thing.

“KLGCC is now the premier club in Malaysia and are seen as innovators in the Malaysian golf sector; other clubs come to see what we are doing and we are proud of what we have achieved.”

Benchmark Maintenance Facilities

As hinted earlier, the maintenance facility at KLGCC is setting the benchmark for other golf clubs in the region. I have been visiting golf courses around the globe for the past 17 years and I can say with complete honesty that I have not seen one that has reached such high standards as here.

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Abas Ismail is responsible for the immaculate workshop

Abas Ismail is the Senior Executive responsible for the workshop and proudly took me on a tour of his facilities. The machinery storage shed is immaculate; every machine is washed down after use and parked in a dedicated, numbered parking bay. There’s a special area attached to the facility for washing down and backlapping the walking mowers and any item that needs raising off the floor for maintenance is done using lifting equipment. There’s a dedicated grinding room and all chemicals are locked in a separate Hazchem safe.

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Every machine has a dedicated parking bay and a clearly visible service sticker with the latest maintenance information

Outside is a dedicated washdown apron for the larger ride-on equipment and a refuelling station complete with underground fuel storage tanks, fuel pump, water and compressed air lines, similar to that you would find in a service station. All machines have a clearly visible service sticker which details the hour usage at last service and hours to the next engine oil change and hydraulic oil and filter change.

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Health & safety notices are placed at strategic locations

 

 

Health and Safety

Highly visible weekly maintenance charts for every machine are located on the walls of the facility and in a similar manner so are the Operator’s and Parts manuals. There are Health and Safety notices everywhere to encourage a safe working environment and a neat and tidy room containing spare parts with all items on racking, clearly visible and easily accessible. There’s even etiquette boards; strategically positioned, to act as constant reminder to all staff to be respectful of the golfers’ needs, while at the club.

Inside the facility Nazim and Abas have their respective offices close to the nearby training and meeting room which has an array of audio visual equipment. An outside covered dining area for staff completes this impressive facility.

Commenting at the end of my visit, Abas Ismail said,
“At KLGCC the management understands that a properly designed and run maintenance facility will reduce our overall running costs and result in a better maintained golf course.

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Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club is a spectular facility, fully deserving its reputation as a premier golf resort in Asia

“My team has a tremendous sense of pride in their surroundings and the quality of the facility helps to maintain their morale. We have created a world class facility and this pleasant working environment will ensure that machinery works at its best performance for many years. Well maintained machinery results in a much longer service life and a saving in replacement costs.”

Without a doubt, Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club has earned its reputation as a premier golf resort in Asia. It is a spectacular golf facility, with a dedicated team determined to keep on improving the facility. Long may it continue!

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