The Cut - 23 September 2016 CEO

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Craig Wood appointed AGCSA chief executive officer
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The AGCSA has a new chief executive officer! The AGCSA Board announced late last week that Craig Wood (pictured) had been appointed to the role replacing Peter Frewin who departed in mid-August. Wood, who will start with the AGCSA on Monday 3 October, comes to the AGCSA with an extensive background in senior management positions with a number of companies in the turf and agricultural industries.

Speaking to The Cut yesterday, Wood (53) says he is looking forward to helping advance the association and an industry which has always been close to his heart.

“I’m very excited about the role,” says Wood. “I have always had a great love of the turf industry going back to my days as an apprentice so I’m thrilled to be a major part of the industry again. Hopefully I’ll be able to make some positive progress for AGCSA members and the turf industry as a whole.”

Growing up in the Ballarat region, Wood entered the turf industry as an apprentice at Mt Xavier Golf & Bowling Club. After seven years there he ventured into the hospitality industry during which time he undertook a commerce degree. His next move was to Aventis, which would become Bayer, where he would spend nearly nine years working in a sales and marketing capacity for the company’s turf, forestry and industrial vegetation management sectors. Wood’s most recent role was as a business development manager with FMC Australasia.

“Having been on both sides of the industry I feel I have a good affinity with both the members and the trade,” says Wood. “I believe I can utilise my skills and knowledge to provide further benefits and services to both and I have got a range of ideas and concepts that I hope will facilitate that.”

Wood’s appointment was announced by the AGCSA Board in a statement sent to members and the industry last Friday. The statement read:

“The Board of the AGCSA is pleased to announce that Craig Wood has been appointed the association’s new Chief Executive Officer. Craig’s appointment follows an extensive procurement phase with a large number of applicants for the position being assessed on their suitability, resulting in a list of 15 possible candidates. These applicants were then rated on a number of key criteria where their suitability was then assessed across these criteria. From this, a short list of seven interviewees was selected with six accepting an interview.  These interviews were conducted at the offices of the AGCSA auditor, APL Financial, by a panel consisting of AGCSA president Brett Balloch and AGCSA directors Steve Lewis and Peter Lonergan. Our auditor Jon Griffin was also present as an independent observer.

The interviewees consisted of people from within the golf industry and some from outside the industry from varying backgrounds. It was an exceptionally difficult decision with all interviewees impressing the panel with their varied expertise, but it was Craig’s zest for the position and positive ideas on moving the AGCSA forward on behalf of the Board and membership that came to the fore.  

The Board would like to sincerely thank all applicants for the time they invested in their applications and interviews and for their valuable ideas on how the organisation can improve services to members and move forward. Craig will start with the AGCSA on Monday 3 October and we look forward to a very exciting next phase of our great association.”

On behalf of all members, the AGCSA Board and staff wishes Craig all the very best for his tenure as the association’s new CEO.

The Cut - 23 September 2016 Ryder

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Winzar along for the Ryder Cup ride
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The Ryder Cup, one of the world’s great sporting rivalries, tees off next week at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota, USA and for one young Aussie greenkeeper it will be a fitting culmination to what has been the experience of a lifetime. For the past 18 months former Lakelands Golf Club, Qld greenkeeper Simon Winzar (pictured) has been on The Ohio Program and since April has been part of the Hazeltine crew as they gear up for the 41st showdown between the US and Europe.

Winzar was the 2014 GCSAQ Graduate of the Year and represented the Queensland association in the final of the AGCSA Graduate of the Year Award. Although not winning the national award, Winzar would receive the John Hood Memorial Scholarship from the Australian Golfing Fellowship of Rotarians which enabled him to embark on his Ohio experience in early 2015. His first placement was at Plainfield Country Club in New Jersey, which hosted the 2015 Barclays tournament won by Jason Day, before heading south to Florida for the winter and a stint at Isleworth Country Club.

Since arriving at Hazeltine, Winzar has got a unique insight into the huge amount of lead-in work that goes into preparing a course for one of the game’s greatest events. As the sole Aussie, Winzar has quickly endeared himself to Hazeltine superintendent Chris Tritabaugh and the crew and for the Ryder Cup will be managing the bunkers – all 104 of them!

Earlier this week Winzar notched his 23rd birthday and to celebrate the occasion did what all good Aussie interns aboard do and introduced his boss to the wonders of Vegemite! Winzar presented Tritabaugh with a 380 gram jar of liquid gold and witnessed his first taste which, not surprisingly caused a fair bit of banter on social media.

Tritabaugh, who has been posting a heap of photos about their course preparations on Twitter, tweeted a photo of the Vegemite jar along with the post… “I’ve just finished a cultural enrichment session with our Aussie intern @WinzarSimon. He witnessed my first try.” When asked what he thought of the famed Aussie yeast extract he responded “Not bad and my first try was plain”. We have another convert!

With the eyes of the golfing world set to focus on Hazeltine National over the next week, a tournament crew of around 150 has been assembled and looking at the photos posted by Tritabaugh and other members of the crew on Twitter it would appear that nothing has been left to chance. The conditioning of the course, as you would expect for such a significant tournament, is simply stunning and Tritabaugh and his crew have been lauded across social media by many within the industry.

The AGCSA wishes Simon and the whole Ryder Cup team at Hazeltine National all the best for the tournament. If you are on Twitter make sure you follow Chris Tritabaugh @ct_turf as he has been posting regularly about the behind the scenes work to get the course ready which is fascinating. Others to follow who are also on the ground at Hazeltine include Simon Winzar @WinzarSimon, Hazeltine senior assistant superintendent Ryan Moy @rmoyturf, Steve Chappell @CentenaryHGK (head greenkeeper of PGA Centenary Golf Course at The Gleneagles Hotel) and the Asian Turfgrass Centre’s Micah Woods @asianturfgrass.

Click here to download the GCSAA tournament fact sheet on Hazeltine and you can also view some incredible drone footage of the course and its transformation over the last eight months on AirVuz, a video-sharing platform for the worldwide drone community. The flyover videos got back as far as February this year just as Hazeltine was emerging from being covered in snow over winter. The latest video was posted on 12 September. Check out the videos here.

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The Cut - 23 September 2016 Finally

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And finally… No holiday for a course superintendent
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Parents may dread the school holidays but you can bet golf course superintendents dread them just as much. Just ask GCSAQ president and Headland Golf Club superintendent Ben Tilley who posted the above photo on the association’s Twitter account @qgcsa earlier this week showing some circle work on one of his greens. His accompany words were… “Nothing for a year and 3 days into school hols...... You got to wonder???????” Chin up BT!

And over the other side of the world, spare a thought for the crew at Rochford Hundred Golf Club in Essex, UK. The photo below along with another went viral on Twitter this week after vandals destroyed two greens. Yes, you do have to wonder…

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The Cut - 23 September 2016 Rules

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Rules of Golf need changing, says Golf Australia
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Golf Australia is backing a top-level push to cut and simplify the Rules of Golf. With the two rulemaking bodies, The R and A in Scotland and the USGA in the United States in the midst of a ''fundamental review'' of the 34 rules, GA’s chief executive Stephen Pitt says the Rules of Golf were making it harder to attract and retain new players.

The joint committee of The R and A and the USGA are within a year of releasing the first draft of a new set of rules, according to a report emanating from America recently. But the full process, already five years long, is expected to take several more years beyond that, with time for public feedback. Golf Australia, as with many players and administrators in the game worldwide, is anxious to see what comes of the discussions.

“I believe golf would benefit substantially from a simplification of the rules,'' says Pitt. "It is a barrier for entry for new players of the game, and we do want to make it as easy as possible for people to play golf. Definitely with changes in the game from things like agronomy, there's a need to review the rules to reflect those changes. I think we should be striving for a vastly-simpler set of rules that still protect the integrity of the game but that increase the enjoyment of its players.'' Click here to read more…

The Cut - 23 September 2016 Good Luck

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Good luck to...
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... the following AGCSA and state superintendent association members and their crews holding major events in the coming week:

  • The Grange Golf Club, SA (superintendent Richard James, pictured top) and Tea Tree Gully Golf Club (superintendent Ivan Swinstead, pictured second from top): Men's & Women's SA Amateur Championships, 26 Sep-2 Oct.
  • Port Macquarie Golf Club, NSW (superintendent Steve Brennan): Better Homes Port Macquarie Pro-Am, 27-28 Sep.
  • Sanctuary Cove Golf & Country Club, Qld (superintendent Paul McLean, pictured second from bottom): QLD PGA Foursomes Championship, 28 Sep.
  • Kew Country Club, NSW (superintendent Brendan Hansard, pictured bottom): Kew Country Club Pro-Am, 29 Sep.
  • Hawks Nest Golf Club, NSW (superintendent Bobby Lee): Hawks Nest Golf Club Pro-Am, 30 Sep.

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.

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