The annual EIGCA (European Institute of Golf Course Architects) Conference Week continues to go from strength to strength as the representative body for European golf course architects staged another successful event this month in Estoril, Portugal.
EIGCA President Peter Fjallman expressed his delight at the feedback he has already received from both EIGCA members and Industry Partners who attended a week long programme of events based at the Hotel Palacio.
“I am so pleased that our guests enjoyed our 2014 conference week,” he said. “We do our best to provide a relaxed atmosphere where the golf industry can get together to discuss the important issues of the day, whether that be in the lecture hall or on the golf course or afterwards at our formal functions and often later in the bar. Each year we try to provide the right balance between continued professional development, networking possibilities and social events and, from the reaction of our members, partners and patrons, I believe that we have once again achieved it. I must thank all those involved for making it such a success, especially our Industry and Consultant Partners to whom we are indebted for their continuing support.”
The week began with a two day educational workshop for students on the EIGCA Vocational Qualification Course. This included site visits on Tuesday to the golf courses at Ribagolfe Golf Club, Vargem Fresca and Golf de Montado, Palmela, both located a short drive from Lisbon.
Wednesday saw the start of the President’s Cup, the annual EIGCA golf tournament played over 36 holes, with the first round played at Oitavos Dunes. The Arthur Hills designed course, which is ranked 2nd in Portugal, 20th in Golf World’s Top 100 Courses in Continental Europe and 68th in Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Courses in the World, proved a tough test even in relatively benign conditions. The second round was staged the following day at Estoril Golf Club which underwent major redesign by Mackenzie Ross in 1936. The course offered a very different challenge to Oitavos but, despite its relative lack of length, the fact that 33 Stableford points was the best score of the day showed it was also no push over.
The winner of the President’s Cup was EIGCA Associate Member, Jeffrey Danner with a combined total of 66 points. Ronan Branigan was runner up while the winner in the Guest or Partner category was Rick Elyea of Jacklin Seed. The prizes for best individual rounds went to Christoph Staedler at Oitavos and Dave Sampson at Estoril. Special awards for golfing prowess, or lack of, went to Matt Osborne, Keith Duff, Toro’s Andy Brown and Rain Bird’s Stuart Tate.
Thursday afternoon saw the important business of the EIGCA AGM. Peter Fjallman and Tom Mackenzie were both unanimously re-elected as President and Vice-President respectively, while Alan Walker and Svein Drange Olsnes were elected on to the EIGCA Council. Marco Martin was accepted as a Senior Member and there were five new Associate Members; Matt Osborne, Dave Sampson, Virginia Costa, Michael Terech and Rogelio Abarca.
Entitled “Golf For All – Designs on the Future” the EIGCA Conference looked predominantly at what could be done to make golf more inclusive, particularly to women, children and people who were visually or physically impaired. Speakers included Tony Bennett, Director of Education for the PGAs of Europe and President of The European Disabled Golf Association, who gave a thought provoking talk on the potential of golf for those with disabilities, Steve Isaac, Director of Golf Course Management at The R&A, who outlined the work of The R&A to inspire the next generation of golfers around the world, and Alexandra Almeida, Chairman of the Sport and Environment Commission on the Olympic Committee of Portugal, who made it clear how important it was that golf proves to be a success at the next two Olympic games in Brazil and Japan.
EIGCA Associate Member, Kari Haug, made an impassioned plea for golf course designers to think more about how their courses should be set up for women golfers, illustrating her talk with some interesting statistics on the ideal length of courses from the ladies tees.
Jose de Sousa e Melo, the President of Estoril Golf Club, was the first speaker of the day and gave an historical context to the development of golf in Portugal and in particular the Lisbon region. Drew Rogers, of the American Society of Golf Course Architects and who was the lead architect for Arthur Hills on the Oitavos Dunes project, also gave a fascinating presentation about the development of Oitavos which helped those who had played the course two days previously to fully understand the important environmental issues which needed to be considered during both the design and construction phases.
As well as The R&A, EIGCA Patrons were represented during the conference by Dean Cleaver of FEGGA, Sam Thomas of GEO and Lodewijk Klootwijk of EGCOA. Lodewijk wound up the conference with an entertaining and forthright talk on VISION 2020, a research project undertaken by the EGCOA to look at the existing golf industry in Europe and develop a policy for the development of golf over the next six years.
With other EIGCA members contributing to the conference programme on a range of topics, especially during the popular 3 minute ‘open mic.’ spots, there was much to learn and plenty to entertain during the day.
The culmination of the week came at the President’s Dinner at the Hotel Palacio on Friday night, with the award of the President’s Cup and other prizes. Peter Fjallman thanked all the attendees who had made the conference week such a success and expressed his hope that he would see everyone again next year.
European Institute of Golf Course Architectswww.eigca.org
Drew Rogers, ASGCA, speaking at the conference
New Associate Members – l to r, Matt Osborne, Michael Terech, Virginia Costa, Dave Sampson