Singapore: The R&A has reinforced its support for the Asian Golf Industry Federation’s (AGIF) Certificate in Greenkeeping (CIG) programme.
Speaking during the AGIF’s Sustainability Series, senior R&A officials Steve Isaac and Chris Gray stressed the importance that golf’s ruling body places on greenkeeper education.
Isaac, The R&A’s Director of Sustainability, said: “As an organisation, we believe that sustainability is one of the keys to securing the future of the sport of golf.
“Sustainability basically delivers golf facilities that are financially viable but which also deliver net gains for nature and communities.
“Two of our main initiatives relate to greenkeeper education and a programme called Golf Course 2030.
“We support greenkeeper education around the world and within the Asia-Pacific region particularly the Asian Golf Industry Federation’s Certificate in Greenkeeping.”
Isaac said The R&A has extended its greenkeeping scholarship programme into Australia, supporting the diploma and degree programmes run by Melbourne Polytechnic.
Gray, Head of Sustainability & Agronomy – Asia Pacific with The R&A, added: “The R&A is supporting the Asian Golf Industry Federation’s Certificate in Greenkeeping, recognising the positive impact of this programme.”
The R&A is a founding supporter of the CIG, along with AGIF members Jacobsen, Jebsen and Jessen, John Deere, Syngenta and Toro, who are education partners in the programme which was launched in 2018 after several years of discussion and development.
The New Zealand Sports Turf Institute was selected as the education partner for the development of the curriculum and implementation of the CIG with the purpose to create viable and consistent education to turf professionals in Asia looking to advance their careers in turf management.
The programme to date has delivered to 52 students who are supported by 29 mentors across programmes in Malaysia and Thailand. Students are guided through the year-long learning process with regular feedback and communication from tutors and mentors.
Prior to assuming his Singapore-based role at The R&A last year, Gray held the position of Director of Agronomy and Golf Redevelopment at The Singapore Island Country Club, where he acted as a mentor to members of the club’s greenkeeping team.
He said: “The CIG is a really good programme, especially for the guys at supervisor and assistant superintendent level. In Asia, the opportunity for formal education wasn’t previously possible for a lot of these people.
“Although they’d worked on golf courses for a long time and understood the basic practices, sometimes they didn’t have a great understanding of why they were doing things.
“What I noticed with three of the staff members I was mentoring was the engagement with their supervisors as to why they were doing things … and to be able to get them to plan some of the actual projects we had on-going, such as a coring project for the greens, letting them decide what they needed as far as resources, manpower and timing.
“It got them a lot more engaged in what was happening on the course, rather than just being told what to do. From there, they’d come up to me and say they’d noticed something on the course or even give suggestions, rather than just sit back and wait to be told.”
Sponsored by Profile Products, Sustane and Toro, the webinar highlighted The R&A’s sustainability initiatives and discussed the principles for sustainable course development and management.
In addition to the exchange of information, education/association credits from attending AGIF webinars can be gained in Club Management Association of America, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, PGA of America, PGA of Great Britain and Ireland, PGA of Japan and PGA of Australia.
Attendance is tracked and a certificate of attendance is issued, pending attendance for a minimum of one hour on the webinar.