New Open Champion Rory McIlroy and caddy J.P. Fitzgerald were not the only partnership celebrating at Royal Liverpool. Course greenkeeping staff, supported by STRI (Sports Turf Research Institute), celebrated a successful Championship after receiving plaudits about course conditions and the performance of the greens.
Alistair Beggs, Head of Advisory with STRI, also took a break from his usual STRI role as he was on official duty as the Captain of Royal Liverpool Golf Club. Alistair has been a member of the historic club for 36 years and in his role of Captain had the honour of presenting the Claret Jug to winner Rory McIlroy.
Alistair commented: “It was a great honour for me to hand over the Claret Jug to Rory McIlroy at Royal Liverpool and I’m very proud to have been selected as Captain in such a momentous year for my club. Links golf is my passion and to have witnessed such fantastic golf on our stunning course is something that I will remember for a very long time.”
Despite the intense heat and, at times, wet conditions, the rest of the STRI team (minus Alistair this year!) put the award-winning STRI Trueness Meter, along with other objective measurement tools (to measure firmness, speed and soil moisture), through their paces early every morning and late into the evening, to ensure consistency across all greens and to gain peak playing conditions.
The amount of data collected at the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool was phenomenal; there were 3,168 ball rolls taken to measure speed, 8,712 data points taken for firmness and moisture measurements and the STRI Trueness Meter produced 1,584 data points and travelled a distance of 7.9km on the greens.
The STRI Trueness Meter, winner of the Sports Technology Award 2014, developed in conjunction with Sheffield Hallam University and with funding from The R&A, has been recognised as one of the biggest steps forward in the agronomy industry in 30 years and the only accurate, effective and efficient method of measuring smoothness and trueness of a green.
The STRI Programme employed throughout the championship combines the expertise of a Club’s greenkeeping team with technology and is a significant advancement in the preparation of Open Championship Venues as well as tournaments more generally.
Stuart Ormondroyd, Senior Agronomist at STRI, said: “Accurate data was provided by the objective measurements, in particular from the STRI Trueness Meter, and was analysed with The R&A and the Royal Liverpool greenkeeping team throughout the Championship. The precise data provided guidance to Links Manager Craig Gilholm, who then delivered expert maintenance, resulting in the smoothest, most true and consistent surfaces ever for an Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. All the feedback we’ve had from players has been resoundingly positive.”
STRI (previously Sports Turf Research Institute) www.stri.co.uk