The Cut - 1 July 2016


Welcome to this edition of The Cut, the AGCSA’s e-newsletter. The Australian Turfgrass Conference and Trade Exhibition is done and dusted for another year and in this edition we look back at the week that was in Melbourne. The AGCSA Board and staff wish to sincerely thank all delegates, speakers and trade exhibitors for contributing to what was another fantastic conference. Enjoy the read…

#32ATC - A memorable week in Melbourne

The AGCSA Board and staff wish to thank all delegates, presenters and trade exhibitors who turned out for last week’s 32nd Australian Turfgrass Conference and Trade Exhibition in Melbourne. Staged at Crown Entertainment Complex for the first time in the event’s history, the conference also doubled as the 25th anniversary of the AGCSA’s incorporation in 1991.

A full wrap of the conference will appear in the upcoming July-August edition (Volume 18.4) of Australian Turfgrass Management Journal, but initial attendance numbers make for extremely pleasing reading. The figures indicate…

  • In excess of 480 fully registered delegates and day delegates for the education sessions across four streams – golf, sportsfields, course architects and turf technicians;
  • A total of 58 companies exhibiting at the trade show with nearly 300 representatives manning the stands;
  • In excess of 850 trade exhibition visitors (pre-registered and walk-ups – this number does not include registered delegates); and
  • 260 guests at the Syngenta President’s Dinner on the Monday.
Keynote presenters Prof. Fred Yelverton (left) and Dr. Frank Rossi  (right) share a joke during the final forum session at the 32nd Australian Turfgrass Conference

Registered delegates heard from some of the turf industry’s pre-eminent international speakers including the likes of Dr Frank Rossi (Cornell University) and Prof. Fred Yelverton (North Carolina State University) who made welcome returns Down Under after a number of years absence. David Bancroft-Turner also returned for a third year, bringing his engaging workshops and sessions covering a gamut of HR and club management issues. These were complemented by a highly entertaining session from professional business coach Steve Herzberg whose interactive session provided delegates with tips on how to improve their communication skills, both verbal and non-verbal.

In addition to the international cast, delegates also heard of the excellent work being conducted by local superintendents and turf managers. Superintendents Shaun Cross (Byron Bay GC), Simon Bourne (Cottesloe GC) and Nick Kinley (Hartfield CC) overcame their nerves to give some fantastic presentations, while former ex-pat superintendents Mick Kelly, Marcus Hartup and David Cassidy spoke about the pitfalls and perks of working abroad in their extremely interesting session. The men's health session was again one of the best of the week, with Cricket Australia match referee David Talalla recalling the tragic incident involving cricketer Phil Hughes and the stress the freak event caused. His rivetting presentation led into talks by superintendents Phil Moylan (Gosnells GC) and Phil Beal (The Australian GC) about dealing with stress in the workplace and how they have overcome their own battles.

A star is born... Royal Hobart superintendent Steve Lewis, with ventriloquist Darren Carr, brought the house down at the Syngenta President's Dinner

The social functions were again extremely well attended, with the Syngenta President’s Dinner a sell-out. In addition to honouring former AGCSA executive officer Euan Laird with the AGCSA Distinguished Service Award (see more below), the night also made a star out of AGCSA Board member and Royal Hobart superintendent Steve Lewis, who took to the stage with ventriloquist Darren Carr in what would have to rate as one of the funniest performances ever witnessed at the annual conference dinner.

In addition to celebrating the 25th anniversary of the association, at the 2016 AGCSA Annual General Meeting a new president was elected. With a major greens reconstruction programme looming, Coolangatta & Tweed Heads Golf Club superintendent Peter Lonergan stepped down, with Anglesea Golf Club’s Brett Balloch elected unopposed as the AGCSA’s eighth president. Lonergan, who took over the presidency in 2012, will remain on the Board as a director, while Steve Lewis assumes the treasurer’s role vacated by Balloch.

The roles within golf clubs forum brought together superintendents, general managers and course architects

As mentioned above, a full wrap of the conference will appear in the next edition of Australian Turfgrass Management Journal. AGCSA events and education manager Simone Staples will also shortly be distributing a survey to all delegates seeking their feedback on this year’s event. Once again, the AGCSA had the majority of sessions in Melbourne professionally recorded and these will also be made available shortly to all delegates thanks to the support of AGCSA Gold Partner Nuturf.

At the conclusion of the Melbourne conference, it was announced that the 2017 event will return to the popular Twin Waters Resort from 25-29 June 2017. The conference first visited the venue in 2013 and proved such a great location that the AGCSA has decided to return there four years later. The AGCSA encourages all members of the turf industry to put next year’s date in their diaries now and stay tuned to The Cut and AGCSA website later in the year for further information.

Euan Laird wins AGCSA Distinguished Service Award

The AGCSA’s first full-time executive officer Euan Laird received the association’s highest honour at last week’s 32nd Australian Turfgrass Conference in Melbourne. In a fitting way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the association, Laird was acknowledged for his services to the industry with the AGCSA Distinguished Service Award, joining the likes of industry doyens Vince Church, Peter McMaugh, Doug Robinson, John Odell and John Neylan.

2016 Distinguished Service Award winner Euan Laird (centre) with inaugural AGCSA president Doug Robinson (left) and immediate past president of the AGCSA Peter Lonergan (right)

In a highly entertaining acceptance speech in front of 260 guests at the Syngenta President’s Dinner on the opening night of the conference, Laird paid homage to the AGCSA and golf course superintendents. “I am deeply honoured and humbled by the decision of the AGCSA Board to bestow this award upon me,” said Laird, who was AGCSA executive officer between 1992 and 2002. “When we first conjured up the idea of the Distinguished Service Award in 1997, it was never meant to be for staff, but to recognise those in the industry. To see the names of those who have gone on to win it, I feel extremely privileged to be recognised alongside them.

“I have been very fortunate in my career to have served many sectors of the horticulture industry and I can say without a moment’s hesitation that golf course superintendents are the most professional of any vocational group that I have met. Their technical skill, artistic flair and care for their natural environment cannot be questioned.

“In life all you can hope for is to contribute something and I was very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time when I was appointed at the AGCSA. The association was on the cusp of a growth phase and I was fortunate during my 10 years to work alongside some great boards that had a sole vision of improving the recognition and professionalism of golf course superintendents. The experiences I had at the AGCSA – organising conferences, setting up AGCSATech and Australian Turfgrass Management Journal or the AGCSA Accreditation Programme – set me up for a long career in horticulture and for that I am eternally grateful.”

2016 AGCSA Excellence in Golf Course Management Award winner Mick McCombe (Maleny GC, centre) with Tony Irivine (award sponsor Rain Bird, left) and immediate past president of the AGCSA Peter Lonergan (right)

The Distinguished Service Award headlined a fantastic ceremony which also saw four other awards handed out. Maleny Golf Club’s Mick McCombe picked up the AGCSA Excellence in Golf Course Management Award, presented in partnership with Rain Bird, while for the second time in four years the AGCSA Claude Crockford Environmental Award, presented in partnership with Syngenta, travelled across the Ditch. AGCSA international member and Kauri Cliffs superintendent Andy Wood collected the award for the significant environmental works undertaken at the world class New Zealand course.

2016 AGCSA Claude Crockford Environmental Award winner winner Andy Wood (Kauri Cliffs, NZ, centre) with Henk Smith (award sponsor Syngenta, left) and immediate past president of the AGCSA Peter Lonergan (right)

The AGCSA and STA Graduate of the Year Awards, both presented in partnership with Toro Australia, went to Victoria and NSW respectively. Ballarat Golf Club’s William Koopmans collected the AGCSA Graduate of the Year, while Kurt Dillon from Green Options, NSW won the STA Graduate of the Year Award. A full wrap of all award winners will appear in the upcoming July-August edition (Volume 18.4) of Australian Turfgrass Management Journal. The AGCSA congratulates Euan and all other award winners on their fantastic achievements.

2016 AGCSA Graduate of the Year Award winner William Koopmans (Ballarat Golf Club, Vic, centre) with fellow finalists and representatives from Toro Australia
2016 STA Australia Graduate of the Year Kurt Dillon (Green Options, NSW, centre) with newly elected STA Australia president Chris Chapman  (left) and Laurence Bingham (award sponsor Toro, right)

As those who attended the AGCSA Awards ceremony will be aware, in 2011 former AGCSA executive officer Euan Laird was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s disease. To help raise money for Parkinson’s research, Euan is taking part in the ‘A Walk in the Park’ fundraiser on 28 August 2016. If you would like to make a donation to Euan’s team you can do so here. Laird’s business, Practical Horticulture, is also selling bare-rooted Black Tulip magnolias, the floral emblem of Parkinson’s Victoria, with $10 from each sale going towards Parkinson’s research. Orders can be placed at or by contacting Euan on 0476 262 133.

Brent Hull tailors second Toro Red Jacket

Moruya Golf Club course superintendent Brent Hull has collected his second Red Jacket after triumphing at the 2016 Toro AGCSA Golf Championships. Staged at Barwon Heads Golf Club on the Sunday prior to the 32nd Australian Turfgrass Conference, Hull fired a one-over 71 to win on a countback from former three-time winner Anthony Toogood (Commercial Club, Albury). Nick Price (The Cut, WA) and Brett Woodward (Armidale Golf Club, NSW) finished a shot back.

Hull has a habit of winning the Red Jacket in dramatic circumstances and won his first back in 2011 at Kooyonga Golf Club in Adelaide. In that instance he was involved in a four-way playoff, eventually pipping then Mona Vale GC superintendent Andy Hugill on the second playoff hole. At Barwon Heads, prepared superbly by host superintendent Adam Lamb who just so happened to be his playing partner for the round, Hull was solid all day on the lightning quick Poa greens.

A countback was also required in the stableford competition played on the Beach course at neighbouring Thirteenth Beach (host superintendent Steve Hewitt), with Jason Kelly (Royal Fremantle GC) prevailing over Aaron Banks from Bonville Golf Resort. The AGCSA Classic also went the way of WA, with Sun City Country Club superintendent Brad Anderson posting a nett 68 to collect the trophy by one shot.

The victorious NSW team (from left) Brett Woodward, Jason Seis, Ben Grylewicz and Dominic Yates

After an absence of a few years, NSW again took the honours in the state teams event. Jason Seis (Mudgee GC), Dominic Yates (Oatlands GC), Ben Grylewicz (The Ridge GC) and Woodward posted a total of 101 points to beat home the WA team of Anderson, Price and Idris Evans (The Western Australian GC) by three points. Nearest the pins went the way of Justin Bradbury and Toogood and longest drives to Teague Baldry and Price.

The AGCSA wishes to thank both Barwon Heads Golf Club and Thirteenth Beach for hosting the golf championships and particularly Adam and Steve and their respective crews for preparing their courses in immaculate condition. A full wrap of the golf championships will appear in the upcoming July-August edition (Volume 18.4) of Australian Turfgrass Management Journal.

AGCSA, Jacobsen Future Turf Managers’ Initiative a hit

The Melbourne conference saw the hosting of the inaugural AGCSA Future Turf Managers’ Initiative (FTMI), presented in partnership with Gold Partner Jacobsen. Thirteen aspiring turf managers from around the country were selected to take part in the programme which included two days of networking and education seminars in and around the conference.

The initial intake included Brock Agnew (Sanctuary Cove G&CC, Qld), Nathan Arnett (Traralgon GC, Vic), Jarrod Arps (Ryde-Parramatta GC, NSW), Liam Ash (Monash CC, NSW), Stuart Campbell (Maroochy River GC, Qld), Justin Crowe (Huntingdale Golf Club, VIC), Rowan Daymond (The Grange Golf Club, SA), Mark Harkness (Peninsula-Kingwood CGC, Vic), Kirsty Herring (Kalgoorlie GC, WA), Tom Hogan (Barwon Heads GC, Vic), David Hurst (Cromer GC, NSW), Stewart MacFarlane (Settlers Run G&CC, Vic) and Nick Marino (Mandalay GC, Vic). They were joined by three superintendent mentors – Justin Bradbury (Bonnie Doon GC, NSW), Steve Hewitt (Thirteenth Beach, Vic) and Ben Tilley (Headland GC, Qld).

Campbell, assistant superintendent at Maroochy River on the Sunshine Coast, says the FTMI was a tremendous opportunity and encouraged others to take part in the programme in the future: “The FTMI programme was nothing short of sensational! It was an exceptionally organised and professionally delivered course that I was proud to be selected for and participate in. I have personally gained valuable insight into my own leadership qualities that can now be utilised not only at work but in my everyday life. Since the completion of the programme I see myself more confident and better prepared to take on the next step whether it is going for an interview, employing staff, reading budgets or giving feedback.”

Adds Jacobsen’s international marketing and communications manager Karen Proctor: “The quality of the applications that were received during the selection process were of the highest calibre demonstrating the incredible talent in Australia’s turf industry. Congratulations to the 13 candidates who completed the Future Turf Managers 2016; they join a group of incredibly talented individuals around the globe who have graduated from this invaluable educational programme. This event would not have been possible without the time, effort and enthusiasm of the mentors and the AGCSA who I would like to personally thank for helping make the first Australian FTMI a huge success.”

Tom Doak to redesign Concord Golf Club

World-renown course architect Tom Doak and the Renaissance Golf Design team have been appointed to upgrade Concord Golf Club (superintendent Mark Parker) in Sydney after the inner west club's members voted overwhelmingly in favour of a proposal to upgrade the historic 18-hole layout.

Doak, one of the game's leading architects, has designed many highly regarded layouts ranked in the World's Top 100 including Barnbougle Dunes in Tasmania, Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand and Pacific Dunes in the United States. Concord will be the first significant redesign project that Doak and his US-based team have undertaken in New South Wales. The upgrade works will be led by Renaissance's senior design associate Brian Slawnik with Doak overseeing the shaping of all 18 greens at critical times during the construction process. The works will begin in September 2017 and are planned for completion by March 2018.

AGCSA Bookshop - Order today!

The AGCSA Bookshop currently has the following titles in stock ready for immediate delivery (click on the titles below to read a review and also to find out member and non-member prices). To order any of these titles please contact the AGCSA on (03) 9548 8600 or email To view the full list of books available through the AGCSA Bookshop, click here.




Good luck to...

... the following AGCSA and state superintendent association members who are holding major events in the coming week:

  • Mount Lawley Golf Club, WA (superintendent Rohan Farrow): Srixon Junior Championship, 4-5 Jul.
  • Toukley Golf Club, NSW (superintendent Russell Morsillo) and Shelly Beach Golf Club, NSW (superintendent Andrew Banning): Boys' & Girls' NSW Amateur Championships, 4-8 Jul.
  • Paradise Palms Resort & Country Club, Qld (superintendent Malcolm Ollard, pictured): The Qantas Golf Club Cairns Classic, 5-7 Jul.

If you have a major event coming up at your club and would like it mentioned in The Cut, or have recently held a major tournament, then please email details and photos to AGCSA editor Brett Robinson.

AGCSA Partner Recognition Program