21 Greenkeeper Associations made the journey to Galway during the week-long FEGGA Conference, reports Dean Cleaver, Executive Officer, FEGGA. This FEGGA meeting also saw FEGGA host in partnership with the GCSAI the biannual meeting of the International Summit.
The International Summit began with the theme of “On Going Collaboration” which was a common thread throughout the four days of everyone being together and continuing with the themes that were highlighted during the last Summit held in San Antonio in 2017.
The themes being Professional Development/Education – Membership Growth and retention – and Promoting the Profession, all subjects that were clearly highlighted in the numerous surveys that were carried out in the build-up to the International Summit and Conference.
FEGGA’s ambition for the Summit was to not just continue the themes for San Antonio but develop ways of achieving outcomes that find solutions through further ongoing collaboration. The group work really engaged associations, and for sure they all will have gone home with initiatives to help them, but we also all agreed to two firm initiatives that we will all collectively engage in for the betterment of our associations, profession and the game of golf.
These will include an awareness day in May, where we will globally hold a “Thank a Greenkeeper Day”. The second of the initiatives was to look at developing a communication tool to allow all associations across the world to better communicate and share information through a platform to ensure future collaboration – So now the work begins in achieving these two agreed initiatives!
The second day saw our Summit take on Session two, with all our Patrons, and Partners joining us for the remainder of the Conference. In all we were 50 organisations as we started the day with the Environmental Session – Move Forward with Nature and the Commitment to Responsible Golf Course Management, led by FEGGA Board member Koert Donkers. The Session focused on sustainable greenkeeping, focusing on grass species, fertilisers and water, and then dived into a focus on the challenges and initiatives in Ireland. It really did show how the turf industry is really committed to dealing with the challenges ahead. It really did prompt some good discussion of the realities that lie ahead.
The final part of this Session saw Koert Donkers deliver a great presentation on the global perspective looking at biodiversity and conclusions from the Environmental survey carried out by FEGGA. It’s worth mentioning that this lengthy survey was completed by 21 Greenkeeper Associations, and really did delve into all aspects of Sustainable Environmental Management of our Golf Courses. Koert did an excellent job in communicating the conclusions of the survey, and the reality of the challenges are, what we are positively doing and the general opinion of how countries engage in the importance of golf responsibly to the environment. You will be able to view this presentation via the FEGGA website.
The final day saw FEGGA run three sessions that are being currently engaged in as on-going initiatives, GolfCourse 2030, Pioneering Research and Women in Golf. Steve Isaac presented a very great update of the development of The R&A’s GolfCourse 2030, which was then followed up with a Session on the combined FEGGA and R&A initiative Pioneering Research.
Martin Nilsson of the FEGGA board led this Session, which focused on the Turfgrass challenges on European Golf Courses and using Nordic Countries as a role model for coordinated research among Countries. Martins excellent introduction was supported by a presentation given by Karin Juul Hesselsoe of Nibio University focusing on all aspects of the challenges and research of central and southern Europe. Supporting presentations were also delivered by Luis Fialho of Portugal and Andreas Leutgeb of Austria, both making the case for further research essential in meeting the future challenges highlighted within the work of GolfCourse 2030.
We were so pleased to be able to welcome Graeme Beatt, Superintendent at Royal Portrush. Graeme delivered a great insight of the journey that finally led to them hosting the Open Championships during 2019.
The final Session of the day was the Women In Golf Session, and many said that this was the most inspiring Session of the Conference, and it’s difficult to disagree. All four ladies delivered what was four inspiring presentations, both Jackie Davidson (R&A) and Ann McCormack (Confederation of Golf in Ireland) delivering their thoughts about women in Golf and also speaking about their own careers and challenges within their specific roles.
Marion Klopp and Siobhain Cusack, both greenkeepers from Adare Manor Golf Club then delivered two outstanding Presentations about their personal careers to date, and you can be sure we are all going to hear more from these two people in the future. The Session was led by our FEGGA board member Emmi Pietarila, current Course Manager working in Finland.
It was a very special moment seeing all five ladies on the stage answering questions and discussing the industry as they see it, not just as Ladies but as inspiring people working in our industry. It really was a positive way to draw to a close a Conference and International Summit that delivered on its theme of Ongoing Collaboration.
FEGGA wants to thank all the Associations, Patrons and Partners who supported this event and ensured we achieved many of our goals.
Finally, to a big thank you to our main sponsors, John Deere, Toro, and the R&A. Your support is truly appreciated by FEGGA and acknowledged by all.
We look forward to seeing you all in Germany 23-26 February 2021.