While Phil Beal and his crew were the focus of attention the past week at The Australian Golf Club, their counterparts at Royal Melbourne Golf Club now have their turn in the international spotlight. The Junior Presidents Cup teed off yesterday (Sunday), with Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and their respective US and International teams taking centre stage come Thursday.
Lead-in week is an immensely busy time for the course crew, but RMGC director of courses Richard Forsyth took a few moments out of his schedule to pen an update for The Cut as the world’s best prepare to descend.
The ASTMA wishes Richard and his crew all the best for the week ahead…
“On Thursday morning we welcomed our group of 45 course volunteers to the team, arriving from all parts of the world, on time, excited and ready to assist. We are very appreciative of their professional assistance, adding significantly to the quality of presentation we can achieve. There has already been beneficial transfer of ideas and knowledge, along with opportunities to build industry relationships. After an introduction and induction, they got straight out doing various mowing duties and bunker detail.
“Having a team of 95 is both challenging and fantastic at the same time. Our senior team of superintendents and foremen are doing a fantastic job organising and coordinating each day.
Setting up the job board on Task Tracker is a time-consuming task allocating the equipment and having the right people in places at the right time, so long days are the norm for all of them.
Mark Stravato and Noel Jorgensen are doing an outstanding job in the workshop having the mowers in tournament condition, with continuous grinding and meticulous setting which is key to the end result, especially for the greens.
“The finishing touches are being completed to all of the tournament structures and fan village which has been amazing to see. The traffic on the course is intense and the dry conditions are adding dust and ground breaking up to the challenges we are facing.
“Cal Roth (PGA Tour Agronomy) and John Mutch (PGA Tour Advance Rules) arrived on Monday and got straight to course marking, coordinating the schedule and setting up of the range. Friday was the first practice day for the Junior Presidents Cup players with competition rounds on Sunday and Monday. We are using the practice days to fine-tune our scheduling and organising for the competition days.
“At this stage greens preparation is a back-track cut followed by a single roll. Fescue surrounds are similar with five mowers paired up cutting in teams of two with turning boards used on green edges. Bunker preparation will be a flat board of the bunker base rather than raking. All bunker rakes have been removed and staff will be allocated to walk with groups to deal with bunker repair. Final applications of fungicide and penetrant were made to greens, surrounds and fairways during the week.
"Our maintenance facility is proving beneficial in handling the staff and extra Toro loan equipment. We are able to store all equipment inside and manage it to move in and out efficiently.
“The first day of the Junior Presidents Cup went well yesterday and the professionals started arriving yesterday as well and will be beginning their practice rounds today (Monday). It is set to be a warm day today – 38 is forecast for Melbourne – so we are preparing for that and keeping a close eye on the surfaces.
"The team is doing really well and there’s a great vibe here among the crew. We are looking forward to seeing some of the best players, in a match play format, find their way around Royal Melbourne this week.”