The recent EIGCA Annual Meeting in North Berwick drew a record attendance as delegates enjoyed a varied programme of events based at the Marine Hotel overlooking the famous North Berwick links. Over sixty EIGCA Members and students together with Industry and Consultant Partners, EIGCA Patrons, journalists and other invited guests came together to network, to learn and to play a little golf on one of Scotland’s famous stretches of golf coast line.
The historic course at North Berwick was the undoubted star of the show. Not only did it host the first round of the EIGCA’s annual golf tournament, The President’s Cup, it provided the inspiration for many of the topics discussed at the EIGCA Conference. The North Berwick Clubhouse also proved a fitting location for the Industry Partners reception where we welcomed new Partners Benedetti – Guelpa Golf Int and Team Green, and Consultant Partner Duar Fleming.
With a view from the conference hall over North Berwick’s famous 16th Biarritz Hole, with its controversial double plateau green, the Marine Hotel seemed the perfect venue to debate the subject of green design. John Huggan acted as moderator for an invited panel of architects and golf journalists who debated the pros and cons of undulating greens and whether such designs were good or bad for the development of golf. EIGCA Associate Member Paul Kimber and Golf Course Architecture magazine’s Adam Lawrence, who both supported creating more dramatic putting surfaces, probably won the day, although journalist Jezz Elwood and the EIGCA’s Christoph Staedler put up a noble defence for making green designs simpler to encourage more new players.
North Berwick Golf Club Secretary Chris Spencer teed off the conference proceedings in the morning by providing some historical background and outlining the importance of golf to the town of North Berwick and East Lothian generally. Golf World writer Chris Bertram enlightened the audience on how the Top 100 Golf Course Rankings are produced while Andy Salmon of the Scottish Golf Union and John King of the European Golf Course Owners Association discussed what golf needs to do to encourage and retain more players. Other speakers included Steve Otto, Director of Research and Testing at The R&A, Jonathan Smith of the Golf Environment Organization and EIGCA Associate Member Edwin Roald.
At the EIGCA AGM Tom Mackenzie was elected as the new President. Tom, who is a partner in the design firm Mackenzie & Ebert, has served on the EIGCA Council for several years and has been instrumental in establishing the ‘Raising the Standard of Sustainable Golf Course Development’ programme to further educate EIGCA members in sustainable golf course design. Ross McMurray was elected Vice-President. Two new members were elected to Council – Senior Member Caspar Grauballe and Associate Member Edwin Roald.
The AGM also welcomed Ally McIntosh and Andy Watson as new Associate Members.
The President’s Cup was played over 36 holes with the first round on the links at North Berwick and the second round the following day at nearby Gullane No.2. The winner was Paul Kimber who just pipped Niall Glen on count back, the defining moment being Paul’s spectacular finish on the 18th hole at Gullane where he holed a long putt for an eagle.
First place in the guest and partner category went to The R&A’s Steve Isaac, whilst individual awards went to Sol Golf’s Esie O’Mahoney and Mark Ganning from Hunter Golf. EIGCA members Peter Fjällman and Marco Martin picked up the nearest the pin prizes.
Prior to the golf at North Berwick a fascinating tour of Muirfield was organised by Kneale Diamond of Rain Bird, one of EIGCA’s Golf Industry Partners. A group of members set out with Course Manager Colin Irvine to explore the links and learn more about its development since golf was first played there on a course laid out by Old Tom Morris in 1891. After the tour Peter Fjällman thanked Rain Bird for providing this excellent educational opportunity and expressed his hope that similar events could be organised between the EIGCA and its Industry Partners.
The week in North Berwick was particularly important for four EIGCA students who presented their final design projects at the end of their two year vocational course in golf course design. Following two days of critical assessment the students then displayed their work for further scrutiny, and some acclaim, to the delegates at the conference and now await the results of their endeavours.
The President’s Dinner is always a popular end to the week and the occasion was marked by two important presentations. The EIGCA’s Harry Colt Award, which goes to an organisation or individual for their outstanding contribution to golf and golf development, was presented to the Golf Environment Organization (GEO) in recognition of the vital role of the GEO in improving the environmental credentials of the golf industry and the positive message they are spreading to audiences outside golf.
To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects a special presentation was also made to Rainer Preissmann, Mark Adam and Peter Harradine, three members who played a major part in the formation of the EIGCA when the British Institute of Golf Course Architects, European Society of Golf Course Architects and French Association of Golf Course Architects amalgamated in 2000.
Scotland’s Golf Coast generously donated a golfing holiday as the prize in a draw of business cards. This was won by Guy Hockley.
The formal proceedings came to a close with the official inauguration of new EIGCA President Tom Mackenzie. Speaking before handing over the official duties to Tom, outgoing President Peter Fjällman said: “I have been very proud to lead the EIGCA over the last two years. I believe that we have made excellent progress as an Institute in that time and have taken steps not only to improve the services we provide to our members but also to develop the EIGCA as a professional body. I am particularly excited about our new five year plan which will hopefully lead to more significant long term benefits and I am delighted that the Council have asked me to lead this important work.”
“I would like to thank all our Patrons and Partners for their superb support but I would particularly like to say how grateful I am personally to our Executive Officer Julia Green for her unstinting work behind the scenes together with her colleagues at head office, Sue Stranger and Virginia Turner.”
Speaking after Peter, Tom Mackenzie commented: “It is a real privilege to be the new President of the EIGCA, but it won’t be easy to follow Peter Fjällman. He has been a great leader. He also has a great sense of humour and I know one thing is for certain, I won’t be nearly as funny!”
“I promise that, over the next two years, I will do all I can to continue to develop the professionalism of the EIGCA for the benefit of its members and the game of golf generally. We have exciting plans for our future and I am looking forward to working with our Council and staff as we put these plans into action.”
European Institute Of Golf Course Architects www.eigca.org