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Lonergan elected new ASTMA president

Wednesday 12, Aug 2020

Coolangatta and Tweed Heads Golf Club superintendent Peter Lonergan (CSTM, pictured top) has been elected as the new president of the Australian Sports Turf Managers Association. Lonergan’s elevation was confirmed at the association’s online Annual General Meeting conducted earlier today (Tuesday 12 August) and he takes over from Brett Balloch (CSTM, Anglesea Golf Club) who stood down after four years in the role and a total of eight on the Board.

This will be Lonergan’s second stint as ASTMA president, having previously held the role between 2012 and 2016. Lonergan is currently the Board’s longest-serving member, having been co-opted onto the executive in August 2011 following the Adelaide conference. Lonergan has a long and distinguished career in sports turf management, one which was recognised at the 2019 Asia Pacific Turfgrass Conference in Brisbane when he was bestowed life membership of the ASTMA, just the second member to achieve such an honour.

Lonergan takes on the presidential role for a period of two years and was one of a number of changes to the ASTMA Board’s make-up confirmed at the AGM. Headland Golf Club superintendent Ben Tilley (CSTM, pictured below, middle) was elected unopposed as a director and he joins Adelaide Oval’s Damian Hough (pictured bottom) who was last week co-opted onto the Board (click here to read that announcement). The full ASTMA Board for the coming term is:

  • President: Peter Lonergan (CSTM, Coolangatta & Tweed Heads GC, NSW)
  • Treasurer: Chris Burgess (CSTM, Yarrawonga Mulwala GC, Vic)
  • Directors: David Thomson (CSTM, Bermagui CC, NSW), Ben Tilley (CSTM, Headland GC, Qld) and Damian Hough (Adelaide Oval, SA)

“I am honoured to once again assume the position of president of the now Australian Sports Turf Managers Association,” says Lonergan. “After a very successful AGM this morning, where motions to change the association Constitution to reflect our new entity were passed unanimously, it is now up to us to work as a close-knit board with our staff to ensure continuity.

“I would like to welcome former Queensland state association president and Headland Golf Club superintendent Ben Tilley onto the Board and look forward to what Ben will bring to the boardroom table. I also look forward to welcoming Adelaide Oval’s Damian Hough on to the Board as a co-opted member as of tomorrow (13 August).

“It would be remiss to not take the opportunity to acknowledge the contribution to the association by outgoing president Brett Balloch. Brett steered the association through some turbulent times and has the organisation well set to meet the challenges of the ongoing pandemic. Having just heard on the news that some state borders are expected to be closed until 2022, we indeed have some challenges ahead.”

Lonergan’s career started at Latrobe Golf Club in suburban Melbourne back in the mid-1970s and included a one year stint as ‘curator’ at Colac Golf Club in Victoria’s western district. He then moved to Victoria Golf Club for 14 years before switching to a sales role at Nuturf for two years. In 1999 he headed north to take over as superintendent of the 36-hole Coolangatta & Tweed Heads Golf Club on the NSW/Qld border. In addition to his time on the national executive, Lonergan also has extensive involvement at state association level, having been a former president of both the Victorian Golf Course Superintendents Association (VGCSA) and Golf Course Superintendents Association of Queensland (GCSAQ).

Tilley steps up

Ben Tilley’s appointment to the ASTMA Board marks another milestone in what has also been a storied career in golf course management. That career, which has spanned nearly four decades, was recognised recently when Tilley received the GCSAQ’s Superintendent Industry Recognition Award at the Queensland Golf Industry Awards.

Tilley has been superintendent at Headland since 2007 and prior to that was an assistant at Twin Waters Golf Club and superintendent at Beerwah Golf Club. Tilley is a multiple award winner, having collected the 2000 AGCSA Claude Crockford Environment Award during his tenure at Beerwah, as well as the AGCSA Excellence in Golf Course Management Award in 2012 for his work at Headland. Like Lonergan, Tilley also played a major role on the GCSAQ committee over an impressive 16-year period, holding most positions including two years as president.

“I’m absolutely rapt to be accepted onto the ASTMA Board,” says Tilley. “When you look at the people who have gone before me – like the Pat Paulis and John Odells – it is quite a privilege and I will be doing my utmost to serve the members well.

“Before I put my nomination forward, I had a lot of conversations with a lot of people and the overwhelming response was that serving on the Board was a really beneficial experience. The association has been very good to me over the years, so it was time for me to roll the sleeves up and become involved. I know from my years with the Queensland association it is a very rewarding role. You get to meet and know a lot more people on a much deeper level and you get a real appreciation of how the association operates and what it takes to do so.

“The ASTMA and the sports turf industry as a whole certainly have some challenges ahead given the current global pandemic and I’m looking forward to working with Peter and the Board to navigate the association through these testing times.”

Balloch bids farewell

Tuesday’s AGM, which in a first for the ASTMA was conducted online via Zoom due to COVID-19 restrictions, brought down the final curtain on Brett Balloch’s eight years on the Board. President for the last four years, Balloch has been at the helm during some challenging yet rewarding times. Among the highlights were the first offshore turf conference held in Wellington, NZ in 2018 and more recently the successful launch of the ASTMA Certification Program.

“It has been an honour to have served as the eighth president of the Australian Sports Turf Managers Association,” says Balloch. “I wish Peter and the new Board the very best of success in continuing to serve and support the members of this industry-leading association.

“During my time on the Board there has been some tremendous changes at the association, which have assisted both members and the industry greatly. Having worked with the Board over these eight years, I feel that the association is in a strong position and well-placed to continue to serve the industry. With the support of the Board, we have delivered some significant advancements in the past few years that have been a long time in the planning. It has been satisfying to see many of these initiatives fulfilled and with that in mind it was a fitting time for me to step down.

“I am grateful to all Board members that I have worked alongside over the last eight years, the members and trade partners who have supported us in developing and growing the association and the tremendous staff at the ASTMA who have continued in these difficult times to look after the association with the greatest of integrity.”