Always a Relief

There is always a sense of trepidation in the lead up to a Harrogate week that for some reason it might not live up to expectations.

It may be down to something out of control of BIGGA staff - bad weather springs to mind immediately, but you could include things like general economic climate, industrial action, even something like the fuel protests of a few years ago would have a significant impact on the success of a Harrogate week. You never know, do you?

So it is with a sigh of relief that we can report another good week. Weather was amenable and there wasn’t any outside factor to act as a fly in the ointment of the week.

More importantly the feedback we’ve been receiving has been excellent with the vast majority of exhibitors reporting they had enjoyed a successful show and were keen to rebook for 2005.

The statistics also bear out the fact that BTME & ClubHouse 2004 went well.

• 25 different countries, excluding the home nations, were represented, travelling from five different continents.
• 25% of visitors were attending Harrogate for the first time.
• The breakdown for British visitors was South 23%, Midlands 24%, Scotland 15% and North 38%, indicating that Harrogate draws from all corners of the UK.
• Other than golf, 15 industries were represented, including local authorities; farms; private estates; theme parks; showgrounds; football; racecourses, tennis clubs and polo fields.
• 35% of those who attended had the power to approve and purchase while a further 26% were in a position to influence approval.
• 10% of those who attend spent up to 25% of their annual budget at the Harrogate. 15% spend up to 10% of their budgets while a further 38% spend up to 5% of their annual budget.

We’d also like to salute the 120 people who have attended all 16 Shows. Let’s hope you can keep your attendance records at 100% for many years to come.
It is statistics like those that encourage us to think that we have something to build upon for next year, but no doubt those feelings of trepidation will still be there come January 2005.

You Had to be There

Scott MacCallum takes a back seat at the Harrogate week.

Change was very much apparent to visitors to Harrogate this year from the moment they arrived.

This was mainly due to the fact that the Continue to Learn Education Conference, supported by the John Deere Team Championship, was being held in Hall D of the Harrogate Conference Centre and not the Majestic Hotel.

The reason was simple. As there is major renovation work required on the Royal Hall which has been the traditional home to the Seminar Sessions, Keynote Speech presentations, etc. a new home had to be found.

Ken Richardson took the decision to create a lecture theatre in Hall D, on the First Floor of the Exhibition Centre which last year housed the ClubHouse Exhibition.

As this had to be created specifically for BIGGA it was felt that we should make the most of this new temporary facility, so moving the education conference to Hall D as well made perfect sense.

With state-of the-art Conference technology, including a series of screens placed down the sides of the theatre to assist with the viewing of photographs and graphics, it proved ideal and the interesting and thought provoking papers delivered by the speakers were given the ideal stage.

The Golf – Sport and Business theme to the Conference, under the excellent Chairmanship of Roger Greenwood, caught many an imagination and the quality of both paper and speaker were superb.

The morning started with Andy Campbell MG CGCS, at the time the soon-to-be-elected Chairman of the Association and Golf Courses and Estates Manager at De Vere Carden Park, who spoke on how performance is now judged on the daily figures produced by the resort as much as by the quality of his two golf courses.

Then came Peter McEvoy OBE, the inspirational Captain of a successful series of Walker Cup teams, who revealed how he got the most out of his team and ensured no inferiority complex when they faced up to their American opponent and also gave a glimpse into a new “golf in an hour” concept he is building near London.

Next, Billy McMillan, Course Manager of Tyrells Wood GC, who interrupted his paper to deliver a hilarious story about visiting the blood transfusion service, was as usual riveting self.

Last on in the morning was Professor Al Turgeon, Professor of Turfgrass Management at Pennsylvania State University, who was excellent, particularly when you consider that due to a cancelled flight he hadn’t arrived in the UK until a few hours before he was due to speak.

The afternoon saw Chris Hartwiger, agronomist with the USGA, speaking on Raising the Bar – How High Can it Go?, and encouraging people to concentrate “down the middle” on tees, fairways, greens, bunkers, etc. and not to become drawn into peripheral work which, in a drastic case he’d seen, included dying the wood chippings used to line wooded areas.

Chris was followed by Kenny Mackay, Senior Course Manager, at the Marriott Forest of Arden Golf Club, and then Alex McCombie, Deputy Head Greenkeeper at Parkstone GC, before Professor Al Turgeon returned to deliver a second paper entitled How Turf Science can Help to Overcome and Future Management Problems.

While the delegates were enjoying an invigorating range of papers at the Conference another group were engrossed in one of three workshops being held in the neighbouring Moat House Hotel.

Dennis Mortram led one on Water and the Golf Course; David Bancroft-Turner another on Real Influencing Skills with Jerrard Winter, hosting the Health and Safety Workshop.

While the Education Conference was well under way preparations for BTME and ClubHouse were getting to the frantic stage by Monday afternoon.

It never ceases to amaze how quickly the Harrogate Halls go from being a series of vast empty shells to a home for over 230 colourful, varied and exciting stands.

With a few hours to go you would bet your house it wouldn’t be ready in time but with a few minutes to go everyone is ready for a drink and a nibble at the Pre Show party and you’re looking forward to life on the streets wondering why you were so daft as to bet the family home on a bet you always lose.

The Education Conference Dinner proved to be a superb occasion and in Jimmy Bright we had a speaker who was obviously towards the front of the queue when new jokes were being issued.

Tuesday saw the opening of the BTME and ClubHouse with the usual buzz that surrounds it each new year. For a change the official opening occurred at the entrance to Hall M rather than Hall A and George Brown proved to be extremely adept with the sheers.

Day Two of the Education Conference saw papers from Dr Kate Entwistle, of the Turf Disease Centre, who posed the question, Will Future Legislation Ban Pest Control? She was appropriately followed by Jeff Carlson CGCS, Superintendent at The Vineyard Golf Club in the States, who spoke on, Managing a Course without Chemicals.

The Conference concluded with papers from renowned golf course architect, Jeremy Pern and Terry Buchen MG CGCS, of Harvard University, who looked into the future of Turf Science and Golf Course Management.

The next three days in the Halls and the Lecture Theatre passed in a blur with a particular highlight for many being the keynote speech given by Alvin Law, a Canadian, who has not let the fact that he was born without arms prevent him playing the piano and drums with great aplomb.

Alvin had a full lecture theatre enthralled with the inspirational story of his life and left the stage to a standing ovation, with everyone even more aware than ever that there is no such word as can’t.

The traditional end to the week is the banquet and this year the guests were treated to a performance containing some of the best known songs ever written as Bootleg Abba took to the stage and soon had the dance floor full.

The feedback from the Show – see the testimonials – has subsequently been very good and fully justifies the months of hard work the BIGGA staff have put in to ensuring a successful week.

Three More Members of the Master Greenkeeper Club

The group of greenkeepers who have achieved the prestigious Master Greenkeeper Award reached 39 when the latest three to earn the right to put the letters MG after their name where honoured at Harrogate.

Phil Gates, Course Manager at Trentham Golf Club; Norbert Lischka, Course Manager of Hamburg Falkenstein Golf Club, in Germany and Stephen Matuza, Superintendent of the Town of Oyster Bay Golf Club, Long Island, New York State, formed a cosmopolitan group at the presentation of their Master Greenkeeper Blazers and plaques by outgoing BIGGA Chairman, George Brown and BIGGA’s first Chairman, Walter Woods BEM on Wednesday, January 21.

Three stages of qualification means candidates have to collect 200 credits for education, training and experience, followed by a detailed assessment of their golf course operation and then a two part written examination.

Unsung Heroes

Unsung Heroes
Brian Payne, Head Greenkeeper of Burnham Beeches GC, High Wycombe, and Tim Parker, groundsman for the Royal Hospital School, Ipswich, and part time groundsman for Woolpit Cricket Club, Suffolk, have been chosen as Unsung Heroes for 2003.
Brian Payne, nominated by Burnham Beeches' General Manager Mr T. P. Jackson, was praised by the judges for his tireless hard work over 33 years, always keeping the course in superb condition and instigating many improvements. Although it is widely accepted that Burnham Beeches owes its reputation for excellence during important golfing occasions to Brian's efforts, he has always shunned any form of official recognition.

Mr Jackson, who kept his nomination secret until the judges had made their selection, commented that Brian would be devastated to think praise may be heaped on him.

Tim Parker, who holds a full time job as groundsman during the day, was nominated by the Chairman of his village cricket club, Mr E. Walker, for his unpaid after work activities which have made Woolpit's cricket wicket one of the finest in the county.

Tim Lodge, of the STRI, announced the winners during BTME, on behalf of his fellow judges, Gordon Child of BIGGA, and Derek Walder of the IOG, before the Unsung Heroes were presented with the keys to a house in Neffies, South of France, by Lynda Green, of Terrain Aeration, who has mounted the award. Chris Biddle and John Richards, (the award's sponsors); presented a cheque of £150, to each man, towards travelling expenses. The winners will enjoy a week's holiday this year, in the Neffies house.