Global Edition

News from Harrogate (Part 1 – BIGGA announcements)

12.35am 26th January 2007 - People

BIGGA and IOG Explore Strategic Merger; A second McMillan becomes BIGGA Chairman; BIGGA’s New Website Goes Live at Harrogate; Four New Names for the MG Role of Honour; BIGGA and AGCS launch new Safety Management System

BIGGA and IOG Explore Strategic Merger
The announcement that representatives of the boards from the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) and The Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) had unanimously agreed to explore in depth the possibilities and potential of a strategic merger for the wider benefit of their members and the Sports Turf Industry was made at 9.00 a.m. on Tuesday 23rd January.

At the customary BIGGA Press briefing on the following afternoon John Pemberton, BIGGA chief executive, explained that five representatives from each body will now meet to discuss the details of such a merger, with the objective of being able to report to their respective boards in April. He thought that it might take as long as twelve months of talks before any proposals would be ready for submission to the memberships.

John Pemberton stated categorically that there was absolutely no linkage between the decision to hold these merger talks and the loss of revenue suffered by BIGGA as a result of the decision by major machinery companies not to attend this year’s Harrogate Week.

“We have lost money, but our education programme has continued,” he said, “Indeed many sessions this week have been completely sold out. Furthermore the fears that attendance at BTME would suffer as a result of the major companies being absent have proved to be without foundation.” It has been reported that several companies have said that their business has benefited from visitors not being able to spend time on the large corporate stands.

As a result of the need to reallocate exhibitors into fewer halls, the physical distinction between the traditional BTME and ClubHouse sectors completely disappeared. Most companies serving the ‘ClubHouse’ sector, however, seemed to think that this had worked to their advantage and were highly delighted with their new locations.

This year’s exhibitors will have first option on their stand locations for 2008 – the year that the major machinery manufacturers have said that they will return. “They have until 28th February to tell us what they want to do,” said John Pemberton. “They can re-book the same space for next year if that is what they wish to do.”

A second McMillan becomes BIGGA Chairman
BIGGA’s new National Chairman is a member of arguably the best known family in greenkeeping and is the first son to following father into the role.

Billy McMillan, Course Manager at Tyrrell’s Wood Golf Club, Leatherhead, Surrey, becomes the Association’s 20th Chairman, while his father, Jack, long time Course Manager at Sunningdale Golf Club, was the 2nd in the late 80s.

An excellent seminar speaker who has represented the Association on rostrums as far afield as Australia, Billy, (48) first became a Head Greenkeeper at the age of 17 and a half, while during his career he spent four years as Group General Manager of Wildwood and Lamerwood Country Clubs until the lure of greenkeeping pulled him back onto the golf course full time.

Among the courses at which he’s been head man are Hurst; Cray Valley; Badgemore Park; Effingham; Wildwood and Mannings Heath.

Currently his four brothers are all Course Managers at top clubs in the south east – Stewart at Mill Ride; Bobby at Hendon; Ian at Walton Heath, and Cameron at Queenwood, while Jack is still a consultant for the European Tour.

“I’ll do my best to represent BIGGA in all regards. I’m sure there will be issues for the Association to involve ourselves over the next 12 months which will be emotive, tough, exciting and rewarding while I want to open my ears and listen to the problems that people are experiencing and share the burden with them,” said Billy,

Billy has nominated Kenny Mackay, Course Manager at The Belfry, to be his Vice Chairman for 2007.

BIGGA’s New Website Goes Live at Harrogate
BIGGA’s revamped Website – – went live during Harrogate Week.

The interactive site, with full content management capabilities, will offer BIGGA members many more tools and facilities and be updated on a much more regular basis.

Designed by York-based company Stonesoup, the website includes a calculation function enabling greenkeepers to work out sizes and quantities for tasks they are about to do; weather forecasting; downloadable job descriptions while the new bulletin board will accept images giving greenkeepers, for example, the opportunity to display and seek advice on diseased turf.

“We are delighted with the new site and feel sure that BIGGA members will benefit immensely from the tools and functions it carries. With full content management we will be able to keep it up to date on a much more frequent basis than in the past and we would urge people who do not already do so, to bookmark it and visit regularly,” said BIGGA Communication Manager, Scott MacCallum.

Four New Names for the MG Role of Honour
Four greenkeepers were recognised at Harrogate Week this year for achieving Master Greenkeeper status, BIGGA’s worldwide-regarded programme. It brings the number who have attained such a distinction to 45 worldwide since the programme was introduced in 1990.

Bob Ehrler is Director of Golf Course Maintenance at the Town of Huntingdon Golf Club, New York, USA. He is also the President of Meligolf, a golf course maintenance and design company. Bob has been involved in golf greenkeeping for over 20 years and enrolled on the MG programme in 2004.

Chris Lomas is Course Manager at the Berkshire Golf Club where he has been since 1999. Chris is a relatively newcomer to the MG scheme, enrolling early last year. He had acquired enough credits to take him straight onto Stage 2, the golf course inspection, which he successfully completed in June last year. He then cleared the final hurdle in October when he was successful in the examinations.

The third recipient is Gavin Kinsella. Gavin joined the MG Programme in 2002, following his move to Blackheath Golf Club. He had the necessary credits to move on to Stage 2, the Golf Course Inspection and he completed this successfully in 2004. Gavin cleared the final hurdle in October last year when he passed the examination Stage.

Ken Siems, who is the Director of Agronomy at Loch Lomond Golf Club. enrolled on the MG Scheme in 2005, providing enough evidence to achieve the 200 credits required for Stage 1. He had his course inspected in September last year and took the examinations soon after.

The 45 Master Greenkeepers are spread all over the world with 13 in the United States, three in mainland Europe and 29 in the UK.

BIGGA and AGCS launch new Safety Management System
Golf clubs could be enjoying lower insurance premiums thanks to the launching of a new Health and Safety Management system which has been the product of a joint initiative by the Association of Golf Club Secretaries (AGCS) and BIGGA.

The system which has been developed with the help of some of the best known Health and Safety specialists in the country ensures that there is a standard format for carrying out risk assessments in all aspects and areas of a golf club.

Based on Health and Safety Executive guidance, the SMS will enable golf clubs to set their health and safety policy; specify their club’s organisation; list hazards and asses risks; plan for the future; introduce a review procedure and agree where and how to audit their system. Additionally, the system will allow Club Managers to access a wide range of date on a range of hazards.

“We are delighted that the effort both ourselves, the AGCS and all the people who have given up many hours to work on this project has come to fruition. We are convinced that the new system will be of huge benefit to everyone who uses it and help to ensure that golf clubs are much safer and healthier places for employees and golfers,” said BIGGA Chief Executive John Pemberton.

“We are delighted that this example of two golfing bodies working closely together has proved so successful,” he added

The system will be available to all BIGGA and AGCS members through their respective websites in early April.


In related news... (GBN) is for the many thousands of people who work in the golf business all around the world.

We cover the full range of topics both on and off the course. We aim to supply essential information both quickly and accurately in a format which is easy to use. We are independent of all special interest groups.


Click here to sign up for our free twice weekly golf industry news summary

View the latest newsletter here