The Shire London has appointed a new greenkeeping team, led by George Stillwell, as it seeks to build upon its reputation as one of the capital’s most popular venues.
The son of European Tour chief agronomist Richard Stillwell, George will lead a youthful and energetic course management team, alongside his assistant, Stuart Day.
Already a veteran of 20 European Tour events, where he either assisted the tour’s agronomy team or worked alongside the in-house greenkeepers, Stillwell has honed his skills from the age of 16 at his family golf club. He was also made lead agronomic consultant for the Ladies European Tour in 2014 and, has received an R&A greenkeeping scholarship for the second consecutive year in 2019.
Among Stilwell’s first experiences since taking the helm at The Shire London has been expanding his knowledge alongside the Dye Designs team, who have made several improvements to enhance the Seve Ballesteros-designed course. These include the introduction of the Pure Distinction bentgrass to all 18 greens and the first steps in a comprehensive greenside bunker renovation programme.
“It’s such a wonderful opportunity to work under fantastic shapers and designers such as Nigel Ely and Perry Dye,” said Stillwell. “The club’s owner’s, the Bridgetown Group, is very supportive, and I have far more resources than any club that I have dealt with before. Our owners’ approach makes decision making very easy and the family atmosphere is great to work in. It reminds me of when I worked in the family business.”
He added: “When working with my dad, we always used the old methods much more than other golf clubs, just like Jim Arthur had taught him. I do like productivity, however, and I am always finding ways to do more with less. I like to encourage the greenkeepers to think outside the box and come up with their own ideas and take ownership of them. Through this, I believe you start to really care for the course and this is my ambition here at The Shire.”
Ceri Menai-Davis, Director of The Bridgedown Group, said: “In his short time at the club, George has already implemented a number of new processes and procedures which have improved productivity and, ultimately, enhanced the condition of the Masters Course at The Shire London. We are delighted with the progress he has been making leading a young but enthusiastic team and guarantee our guests and visitors will appreciate the measures he has set in place.”