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Kew GC collects coveted Crockford Award

Thursday 16, Jul 2020

Kew Golf Club in Melbourne’s inner eastern suburbs has won the 2020 ASTMA Claude Crockford Environment and Sustainability Award, presented in conjunction with ASTMA Gold Partner Syngenta. Kew Golf Club superintendent Cameron Hall (CSTM), together with the club’s vegetation manager Ben Burke, were presented the coveted award by Syngenta’s Dan Docherty and ASTMA chief executive Mark Unwin on Tuesday.

Over the past three years Kew Golf Club has undertaken significant works to improve the course’s out of play areas, instituting a dedicated and thorough Vegetation Management Plan (VMP) which is helping to dramatically transform these areas. With the introduction of ‘no-mow’ and revegetation areas, the club has decreased the amount of cut rough by a third which has resulted in significant labour and fuel costs and enabled these resources to be channelled into other areas of course maintenance and ongoing improvement works.

As part of the VMP, the club has planted over 30,000 native grasses, shrubs and groundcovers throughout the course and removed 150 trees which were identified for removal by an independent arborist (which were then replanted at a ratio of 5:1 with more site-specific trees). The crew has also restored a number of original views throughout the course, replanted areas of riverbank on the bordering Yarra River (with the assistance of Melbourne Water’s grant system) and begun revegetation works around the banks of billabongs which provide essential nesting sites for a number of important local bird populations.

“Receiving notification that we had won this award was without doubt one of the most satisfying moments in my working career,” says Hall, who has been superintendent at Kew since September 2015. “To be acknowledged with an award named after one of the doyens of turf management in this country is a great honour and something I am extremely proud of. Having been fortunate to work at Royal Melbourne, the reverence in which Claude Crockford was held was evident for everyone to see and having worked closely with one of Claude’s staff in Graeme Grant over the last few years gives this award an even more special feel.

“For the club to win with this award is a great vindication of the direction we took over three years ago to focus on our out of play areas and reintroducing local plant species that were on the site before a golf course was built.  We have a wonderful piece of land so close to the Melbourne CBD with some amazing areas of vegetation, plus the Yarra River alongside one of our boundaries which gave us a great base to start with.   

“To see the initial areas we worked on over two-and-a-half years ago and how they look today is the most pleasing aspect of what we have accomplished as a club so far, considering the scepticism and doubts from different people when we started. I have always instilled into the crew the philosophy that we are custodians of the land while we are employed here and if we can leave it in a better way than we found it then we have done our job.  This project is ensuring that this statement will be true in future years.”

Hall says the works achieved to date would not have been possible without the support of many people, in particular recently appointed club vegetation manager Ben Burke and environmental consultant Kate Torgersen who helped to devise the VMP. In accepting the award, Hall also acknowledged his crew for their outstanding effort in helping bring the project to life and the integral support of club captain Andrea Moore, the Kew board of directors and club CEO Mathew Loughnane.

“It has been a real team effort,” reflects Hall. “To have great assistance from Kate as we instigated the work in completing our VMP and being a great conduit to myself was a great asset. Ben has also made a massive difference to our operations since coming on board over the last six months, with his knowledge, passion and professionalism taking the project to a new level.  And to have someone with the experience and knowledge of Graeme Grant to pick the brain of has been a great assistance. It has been really pleasing to partly bring some of his initial vision of how the course should be when he first become our designer in 2010-11.”

The Crockford Award has become one of the industry’s most coveted since its inauguration back in 1996, with Kew Golf Club adding its name to a long list of facilities championing proactive environmental management and sustainability. For award sponsor Syngenta, Kew was a very deserving recipient and applauds the work that Hall and his team have achieved.

“Syngenta is proud to once again sponsor the Claude Crockford Environment and Sustainability Award as it recognises the commitment of our industry to sustainable land management, long-term environmental planning, community involvement and overall environmental stewardship,” says Dan Docherty, Syngenta’s business development manager ANZ, Turf and Landscape. “Cameron and his team at Kew Golf Club are very worthy recipients this year and have highlighted what great natural assets golf courses are and how in the future these facilities can be set up for a greater purpose than just golf.”

On behalf of all members, the ASTMA congratulates Cameron, Ben, the entire course maintenance team and the club for winning this year’s Claude Crockford Environment and Sustainability Award. CLICK HERE to read Cameron’s article in the latest edition of Australian Turfgrass Management Journal which looks at the VMP works that have been undertaken at Kew.

Pictured: Top - Syngenta's Dan Docherty (left) presents Kew GC superintendent Cameron Hall (middle) and vegetation manager Ben Burke (right) with the 2020 ASTMA Claude Crockford Environment and Sustainability Award; Middle - improvement works on the 1st tee carry at Kew GC; Bottom - a Vegetation Management Plan has earmarked significant out of play areas to be revegetated in the coming years