The Cut - 17 February 2017


Welcome to this edition of The Cut, the AGCSA’s enewsletter. This week we are at Royal Adelaide Golf Club for the 2017 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. We take a look at course superintendent Nathan Bennett’s preparations, review last week’s 2017 Oates Victorian Open and launch delegate registration for the 33rd Australian Turfgrass Conference and Trade Exhibition at Twin Waters on the Sunshine Coast. Plenty to read... enjoy !

33rd Australian Turfgrass Conference registration open

The AGCSA is delighted to announce that registration for the 33rd Australian Turfgrass Conference and Trade Exhibition is now open. The 2017 event returns to Novotel Twin Waters Resort on the Sunshine Coast, host of a very successful 2013 conference, from 25-29 June. All information pertaining to the conference – registration, education sessions, trade exhibition and accommodation options – will be available via the AGCSA website over the coming weeks.
As a special offer, AGCSA members can take advantage of a Super Early Bird registration deal which means a significant discount on the normal registration rate. Register before 13 March 2017 and pay by 20 March 2017 and AGCSA members will only be charged $880 for the week. This represents sensational value and includes access to all education sessions, workshops, the trade exhibition, catering and the Farewell Bash. There are also a range of  Early Bird rates available for STA members and other groups associated with the sports turf industry ($990 for STA members and $1150 for non-members). After the 13 March deadline, normal Early Bird rates will also apply to AGCSA members. After 1 May full registration rates apply (see registration brochure).

The 2017 Australian Turfgrass Conference and Trade Exhibition, which carries the theme 'Many Paths, One Goal', will offer a dynamic learning environment interspersed with great networking opportunities as well as plenty of fun. Education sessions will focus on areas as diverse as business skills, new technologies and effective communication and will sit alongside pressing issues such as the challenge of managing Poa annua, new warm-season grass varieties and advances in renovation techniques.

In the coming weeks we will highlight various aspects of the 2017 conference including the confirmation of keynote speakers, education sessions, sponsors, as well as details regarding the Toro AGCSA Golf Championships and other major social functions. It will be a fantastic week on the Sunshine Coast for the greatest show in turf and the AGCSA looks forward to welcoming delegates back.

Royal Adelaide ‘wows’ at 2017 Women’s Open

Just as The Grange Golf Club impressed last year, so too has Royal Adelaide Golf Club which is hosting the 2017 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open this week. Despite some challenging times which extended all the way back to last winter, course superintendent Nathan Bennett (pictured right) and his crew have delivered a golf course that has captured the imagination of one of the best women’s fields ever assembled in Australia.

In an article penned by highly respected golf writer Martin Blake titled ‘Royal Adelaide has the wow factor’, tournament director Trevor Herden commented that the surfaces prepared by Bennett and his 32-strong tournament crew are some of the best he has seen. “I’d have to say the quality of turf on the golf course is exceptional, it’s unbelievable,” Herden was quoted. “They’ve had a very wet spring then a lot of heat in the last week, but they’ve done a remarkable job. It’s an awesome tournament course. The players are just saying ‘wow’. They love it. These kinds of surfaces, that’s all the players ask for week-by-week and they’ve really got it this week.”

The flawless condition of Royal Adelaide belies what has actually been a very unusual and challenging lead-in for Bennett. It all began last winter with above average rainfall (for the year Royal Adelaide was 200mm above its norm) which not only saw a number of holes closed for weeks due to drainage issues, but also severely affected fairway renovations. Royal Adelaide’s common couch fairways were slow to recover as a result and then to add to the pain they were hit hard by couch mite. While preparations had got back on track by December, bouts of searing heat coupled with plenty of rain and unseasonal humidity since Christmas have ensured that Bennett and his crew have needed to be extra-vigilant in the lead-up.

“The weather has been so inconsistent,” says Bennett. “Last week for instance we had 30mm of rain on the Monday and a 19 degree maximum followed by five days of 34, 42, 41, 40 and 34! The rain, heat and humidity since Christmas has been great for the common couch surfaces, but it means our roughs have greened up more that we would have liked, so we’ve lost that contrast a little which is disappointing.

“But overall we are very happy with the turf quality. We’ve strived hard to present the course as natural as possible so we haven’t striped or pattern cut any of the playing surfaces.  What has pleased me, and surprised me, most is the way the fairways have come up given the issues we had with them and the amount of work we had to do to them.”

The 18th green gets prepped ahead of the second round

Royal Adelaide’s normal crew of 14 has been supplemented by 18 volunteers for the week which has enabled Bennett to really nail the presentation of the course. In addition to the three casuals employed by the club four weeks out from the tournament, volunteers have come across from Royal Melbourne, Metropolitan and The National golf clubs in Victoria, as well as a strong contingent from Adelaide-based clubs. AGCSA Platinum Partner Toro has also assisted with a heap of loan equipment as well as providing workshop assistant for Royal Adelaide turf technician James Parisella.

Green speeds have been closely monitored all week, with Herden erring on the side of caution and instructing that Bennett keep the rollers in the shed. Greens heights were brought down from 3mm to their present height of 2.8mm at the start of last week and were given a roll last weekend to generate some speed. Greens were given a morning and afternoon cut yesterday and a single cut again this morning with stimpmeter readings around the 11-11.5 mark.

Royal Adelaide's 6th looking resplendent at sunrise this morning

“Having the extra guys in has been great and they have really enabled us to fine-tune the surfaces,” says Bennett, who notches up his sixth major tournament with this year’s Women’s Open. “Everyone has been really positive and it has created a great feel around the place. The guys have put in a huge amount of work in the weeks leading up to the tournament and that really has paid dividends this week. It’s meant we haven’t been chasing our tail and if anything this week has probably been easier because of that.

“It’s just great having major tournament golf back in Adelaide and the feedback that’s coming from the players is that they love coming here. Richard (James) did a fantastic job at The Grange last year and hopefully we’ve produced something different but equally as good this week that will challenge the best. It’s Steve’s (Newell) turn at Kooyonga next year and you can guarantee he’ll have his course in great shape as well.” 

A full wrap of the 2017 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open will appear in the March-April edition of Australian Turfgrass Management Journal (Volume 19.2). You can keep up to date with the tournament through the official website and on Twitter @WomensAusOpen

Royal Adelaide Golf Club – 2017 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open
Greens: Mix of four bentgrasses – Penn G2, Penncross, Highland and Seaside (2.8mm)
Fairways, tees, surrounds: Common couch (8.5mm)
Green speed: 11’-11.5’
Superintendent: Nathan Bennett (started as superintendent in November 2011)
Assistant superintendents: Andrew Fraser and Mark Everingham
Irrigation Technician: Phil Pleic
Turf Technician: James Parisella
Tournament crew: 32

Thirteenth Beach cleans up again at Vic Open

While the Royal Adelaide and Lake Karrinyup crews are in tournament mode this week, the team at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links have been reflecting on the successful hosting last week of the 2017 Oates Victorian Open. Some 288 golfers descended on the Beach and Creek courses for the dual men’s and women’s event, with Dimitrios Papadatos and Mel Reid each collecting their first Vic Open titles, Reid after a three-hole playoff.

It was the fifth consecutive year that Thirteenth Beach has hosted the Vic Open with course superintendent and VGCSA committee member Steve Hewitt telling The Cut this week that it was the best prepared the courses had been for the tournament. However, a 29mm thunderstorm which rolled through on the Sunday before tournament week threw a spanner into the works, washing out many bunkers across both courses. That required a total of 115 labour hours on the Monday to rectify before the course hosted two 36-hole Pro-Am events on the Tuesday and Wednesday.

With the women’s Vic Open part of the Ladies European Tour for the first time, combined with the fact that the Women’s Australian Open was the following week, the women’s field was extremely strong with many international players making the journey down to the Bellarine Peninsula. However, it was Queenslander Jake McLeod who made all the headlines in the men’s Open after shooting a second round course record 11-under 61 on the Creek Course. McLeod took advantage of the course being set up shorter due some forecast winds that didn’t eventuate.

Recent winner of the VGCSA Diploma Scholarship Award David Johnston cuts greens at Thirteenth Beach during the Vic Open. Pictured above is one of the unique tee markers used for the tournament, courtesy of principal sponsor Oates

As requested by the PGA of Australia, Hewitt had the greens rolling between 10’-10.5’ for the tournament. Hewitt’s crew had some extra assistance in the form of volunteers and former Thirteenth Beach employees Rodger Harkin and Michael Havelberg from nearby Clifton Springs Golf Club. Ryan Thomas, formerly of Sanctuary Lakes and who is about to embark on The Ohio Program, also joined the crew. AGCSA Platinum Partner Toro assisted with the loan of four additional mowers for the week, while AGCSA Bronze Partner Simplot Partners supplied shirts for all the staff.

“The tournament went really well and the feedback we got from the golfers and organisers was excellent,” says Hewitt. “It was the best prepared we have been coming into tournament week, but we could have done without that the storm on Sunday afternoon. It was the second year in a row that has happened and the staff did an amazing job to get the bunkers back in play on Monday. The crew should feel very proud of presentation levels they achieved for the tournament this year. They were excellent.” The AGCSA congratulates Steve and his crew on another fantastic effort.

Vic Open volunteer and former Thirteenth Beach assistant Rodger Harkin (now superintendent Clifton Springs GC, left) with Steve Hewitt's son Darcy who has been working as a casual for the summer. Pictured above is Dylan Taylor cutting green perimeters

Half price AGCSA member rate for Herzberg seminars

AGCSA members in Sydney are encouraged to get along to some upcoming seminars and workshops conducted by communications expert by Steve Herzberg. Those who attended last year's Australian Turfgrass Conference in Melbourne will recall Herzberg's excellent ‘Charisma, Conversations and Communication’ session which was ranked as one of the best during the week by providing delegates with some useful strategies to help them communicate better.   

Herzberg (pictured) is running two programmes through his business, NRG Solutions, in May in Sydney and AGCSA members can take advantage of a 50 per cent discount if they register prior to 7 Mach 2017. Herzberg will present two programmes in Sydney:

  • Leading for Success (18-19 May 2017): AGCSA VIP rate of $875 plus GST (if booked by 7 March 2017 – normal price $1750). Click here for session overview.
  • Presenting with Confidence (26 May 2017): AGCSA early bird price $595 plus GST (if booked by 1 Aug – normal price $1190). Click here for session overview. Please note this programme is restricted to 20 attendees.

Both programmes will be conducted at Hyde Park Forum, 271 Elizabeth Street, Sydney starting at 9am. For more information about the content of the various programmes and to book, contact Michaela on 0403 270 433 or email

Trade News: Living Turf partners with TurfKeeper

Living Turf and TurfKeeper Australia have announced a joint venture agreement for future development and distribution of TurfKeeper’s online turf business management software.

Australian turf managers can now subscribe to TurfKeeper software via either business and get the same specialised activation and after sales support. TurfKeeper and Living Turf's Turf Forensics will coordinate future development to ensure that improvements to the respective products are aligned and optimised, to enhance the customer experience for customers of both software products.

In addition to the announcement, Daryl Sellar will also join Living Turf as a consulting agronomist, product manager for Turfkeeper and custodian of Living Turf’s relationship with the South Australian market. Sellar will work closely with Living Turf’s technical and marketing director Dr Henk Smith who joined the company in the latter half of 2016.

Says Sellar: “Joining Living Turf will better resource me to offer an efficient and comprehensive service to my Adelaide based clients, with technical back up that is difficult to find as a sole operator. We have made great progress to date with Turfkeeper which is resonating with turf managers around the country. Our new arrangement with Living Turf will see a widening of our distribution platform and allow us to have more one-on-one discussions with turf managers.”

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 association member superintendents who are hosting major events in the coming week.

  • Royal Canberra Golf Club, ACT (superintendent Ben Grylewicz, pictured top): The Ricky Stuart Celebrity Pro-Am 2017, 20 Feb.
  • The Sands Torquay, Vic (superintendent Justin Rankin): The 2017 Sands Classic, 21 Feb.
  • Portarlington Golf Club,Vic (superintendent Steve Burchett, pictured middle): Barwon Cleaning Supplies Portarlington Pro-Am, 22 Feb.
  • Eynesbury Golf Course, Vic (superintendent Brenton Kay): The Eynesbury Masters, 24-25 Feb.
  • Ballarat Golf Club, Vic (superintendent Jeff Powell, pictured bottom): Ballarat Golf Club XXXX Gold Pro-Am, 26 Feb.

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.

Connect with the AGCSA on social media

As mentioned in last week’s edition of The Cut, the AGCSA is ramping up its presence on social media. You can now connect with the AGCSA through the following social media platforms.

Twitter – AGCSA

Connect with your association on social media today!

AGCSA Partner Recognition Program