APRIL 2009

Pinnacle Point
MuCH aDo aBouT noTHinG
Also In thIs Issue
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Golf CluB ManaGeMenT

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Golf carts – big business for the ‘Big three’ the answer to Poa infestation short time or retrenchment? organic fertilization dealing with incapacity Manager of the month

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VoluMe 5 • issue 4

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leAd story
Pinnacle Point – an environmental triumph 4 7 12 13 15 17 19 20 22 23 26 30

eDiTor’s leTTer

Golf CArt feAture for the love of the GAMe turf MAnAGeMent hr leGAl
Winning the war against Poa Incapacity through ill-health or injury

Course MAIntenAnCe hr develoPMent

organic fertilizer – the sensible option Short time, the alternative to retrenchment

Bells MAnAGer of the Month
randpark’s Doug bain

froM THe eDiTor
green and well-fed
‘Environmental issues’ is the focus of this issue, and at the risk of repeating myself, it is worth reminding everyone in the business of running golf clubs that we are going to have to deal a little more sympathetically with our landscape. Recently I was informed by a club manager that he regularly receives visits from an official from his province’s Environmental Department. This official, resplendent in khaki uniform with game ranger-type epaulettes, brandishes a clipboard, and tours his golf course inspecting the trees, most of which are exotic varieties. The diligent official always informs the manager that someone from his department will be marking certain trees for removal, and he never hears anything more. Like parking tickets, it would seem that if one ignores these officials, they go away. But there is going to come a time when these guys start flexing their muscles, and it cannot be too long before the Green Scorpions discover that they do have a sting in their tails. It is said that the best form of defence is attack. Many believe that our industry should be doing a lot more to inform the public, our membership and the powers that be that we are conscious of our responsibilities, and just what we are doing to rectify the mistakes of the past and present. There is a lot of excellent work being done, and we will be highlighting this in future issues. I was considering asking our Department of Environmental Affairs to sponsor a ‘green’ award for golf clubs, but getting hold of anyone in a position of authority is no easy task. I also spent a frustrating time trying to contact my local branch of Green Scorpions to report someone who was illegally pumping millions of litres of water out of a river. I was transferred from one person to another, but it seemed that those that cared were either on ‘special’ leave, suspension (with full pay), or out marking trees. Those of who attended the Compleat Golfer Annual Awards Dinner would have been pleased that the process of recognising those who were honoured has been streamlined, allowing for most guests to get home at a reasonable hour. Of course some of us made the most of renewing old acquaintances, ‘networking’ and generally shooting the breeze – I have always said that there should be more opportunities for the golfing fraternity to get together and compare notes. Finally a special mention must also be made of the Central Gauteng Golf Union’s Awards evening at the Wanderers – a truly first class affair. More food, great company, and a well-received idea of conducting an informal, on stage chat with golfing greats such as Dorian Wharton-Hood and Etienne Groenewald, and the promising young professional Thomas Aiken. There are a few more dinners scheduled over the coming weeks - one thing about our business, one never goes hungry. But I have it on good authority that it takes one litre of water to produce one calorie of food, so I confess to feeling a little guilty about my carbon footprint.


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turf MAnAGeMent

Environmental consciousness

BIrdIes And BoGeys lAst Word
Andre bruyns

Cover PICture

Pinnacle Point with the offending 9th green in the background.
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Golf Club Management

april 2009


CoVer sTorY

PinnaCle PoinT
an ecological triumph

In certain quarters, due in no small part to some sensationalism on the part of certain journalists, Pinnacle Point has been portrayed as a development that has caused ecological mayhem. gCM takes at look at the facts.
It is no secret that Pinnacle Point is fast maturing into one of the most spectacular courses in the world. The construction of this cliff-top marvel caused a sensation among golf’s cognoscenti, but also attracted more than its share of negative publicity – so what else is new? There are obviously those who like to be seen as saviours of our fragile environment, who are supported by certain government officials that have made it quite clear that they are vehemently opposed to the development of golf estates. Of course there is a strong case to be made for preserving natural habitats, and promoting our natural bio-diversity. No clear-thinking person would question the theory behind the green movement’s goals, but all too often emotion overrides common sense. It is also obvious that historical, socioeconomic and other issues form part of the bigger picture. These important pieces of the jigsaw often seem to fall through the cracks, and in the debate concerning the pros and cons of any development, a lot seems to get lost in translation. The notion that developers of these estates have managed to flaunt the law in their efforts to make a quick buck is a popular one, albeit often way off the mark. Perhaps this whole debate is best started by accepting that the global population has grown to the point where mother earth is having a tough time supporting her human inhabitants. It is generally accepted that the solution to this problem is not to cull or sterilize human beings, although some among the more radical would suggest that this is indeed a viable solution. As seen in certain European countries, a negative growth in population due to a shift in culture brings with it other problems, notably the situation where the pool of productive individuals is lumbered with the increasingly difficult task of supporting an ever-growing group of retirees. The majority that make up civilized society accept that demographic engineering is contrary to moral and ethical norms, and communist China under Chairman Mao made few friends when its policy of limiting population growth was implemented. It is generally accepted that it is a constitutional right to reproduce, and more people means an increased demand for development. In South Africa we must also accept that we find ourselves in a situation where agriculture and mining form the backbone of our economy. In an attempt to return the landscape back to pristine coastal forest, Bushveld and savannah, we could cease all mining activities forthwith and stop farming the land. Our neighbour Zimbabwe has proved what a good


april 2009

Golf Club Management

CoVer sTorY

although in certain areas the lavish homes dominate the landscape, seen in perspective, less than 10 percent of the total land mass on the Pinnacle Point estate near Mossel Bay will actually be developed.

idea this would be. We would also have to relocate many starving people to open up the migration routes of animals – at least those that have survived the best efforts of poachers. Of course this is a ridiculous scenario, just as ridiculous as slapping a moratorium on all development; be it of golf estates or any other kind. The key is to learn from past mistakes, and simply do things properly, or at least as well as we know how. Simply put, logic would suggest that in developing any real estate, a reasonable goal would be to do as little harm to the environment as possible. If we really believe that progress can suddenly be halted, we must ignore the dire shortage of housing, and the serious unemployment figures, which directly adds to our alarming crime statistics. If land can actually be improved by development, this constitutes first prize, and this is what

happened in the case of Pinnacle Point and many other golf estates. As spectacular as Pinnacle Point is, until this estate was built this area of coastline was in a very poor state – suffering from a serious invasion of alien species and a poorly maintained sewage plant that spewed only partly treated effluent into the sea. As in many cases, the municipality had neither the budget nor the expertise to manage this situation, much less rehabilitate this stretch of coastline. While the course was being built, the alien trees and shrubs were removed, and a tremendous effort and a considerable amount of money was spent in planting thousands of species endemic to this region. The lengths to which the constructors of the course went to play by the rules is most commendable, as have been the efforts of the current owner to go well beyond accepted

practices in order to conserve what is a rather special area. Hardus Maritz of Wallington Sports Turf, the head course superintendant at Pinnacle Point, explains: “We go to great lengths to ensure that the course and the surrounding areas are kept in pristine condition. The effluent water used to irrigate the course is actually tested on a daily basis to ensure that it meets the highest standards. Overwatering is prevented at all costs – evaporation rates are calculated, and we irrigate accordingly. Also at considerable cost to the developer, directional irrigation heads have been installed, preventing any water reaching the sensitive fynbos areas,” he says. Proof of the care that is taken in this regard are the areas of rough between fairways and the fynbos, effectively buffer zones, that are underirrigated. It is also very obvious that when necessary, the application of pesticides and

Golf Club Management

april 2009


CoVer sTorY

Where once alien vegetation flourished, the natural fynbos has been rehabilitated. it simply cannot be argued that the construction of the golf course at Pinnacle Point has negatively impacted on the terrain,

fungicides is conducted with the utmost care. “Our fertilization program involves foliar feeding – and we choose to ‘spoon-feed’ the turf to make sure than no excess fertilizer leaches into the surrounding areas,” says Maritz. But despite these precautions, a major furore erupted when it was found that water being used to irrigate the course, presumably after of the disturbance of the terrain when the 9th green was constructed, was seeping into caves that are of major archaeological importance. Evidence found in these caves would seem to prove that the earliest humans frequented this area some 150 000 years ago. It has actually been suggested that Mossel Bay could be the original source of all human beings. The merit of this theory is best left to those most qualified, but after a protracted court battle, a solution that suits all concerned was found. An area close to the clubhouse will be replanted with fynbos (and no longer irrigated), and an elaborate

Pinnacle Point Holdings’ Golf Manager Wayne krambeck next to the offending 9th green – a solution has been found that will prevent any possible seepage into the caves situated in the cliffs below.

bowl-like structure will be constructed under the 9th green. This will effectively seal off the green complex, and any water that seeps through will be collected and pumped out – ultimately being recycled back into the irrigation system. This project will cost more than R6 million. With the caves now safe from any possible harm, and the fauna and flora of the area now well-protected, Pinnacle Point will hopefully be left alone, and the guardians of the environment will focus their attention on real problems such as toxic waste being pumped into our rivers, pollution caused by hopelessly overcrowded informal settlements, and government-owned land that is being ignored as invasive species rapidly take over the landscape. But more likely, the green lobby will find another golf estate to vilify, a far softer target that will appeal to those hoping to score cheap political points.


april 2009

Golf Club Management

Golf CarT feaTure

The king of Carts
Which of the ‘Big Three’?
In 1981 the first six golf carts were imported into South Africa and arrived at what was then Bophuthatswana for duty at the newlyopened Gary Player Country Club in Sun City. The reaction to these novel contraptions was mixed; some viewed them with suspicion, while others couldn’t wait to experience getting behind the wheel and whizzing off down the fairway. It was tennis legend Abe Segal, then the tennis pro at the resort, who had secured the concession to run these carts at Africa’s Las Vegas, and he had taken something of a gamble on this idea. These six carts were fully booked for two rounds a day, and the novelty never wore off. Accurate figures are difficult to come by, but a fair estimate is that today there are about 12 000 operational golf carts in South Africa, and that number continues to grow. The strongest argument against the use of

golf carts are scorned by golf’s purists, hated by green keepers but loved by the new generation of golfers. Like it or not, carts have become part of the game, and have proven be a lucrative source of revenue.
carts includes obvious damage to the course through compaction, and even at courses where the ‘90 degree’ rule prohibits carts from entering playing areas there is always someone who will ignore the rule. Cart paths, at least those with durable surfaces, are expensive – both to construct, and in the case of the brick-paved variety, difficult to maintain. The best efforts to conceal cart paths still result in them doing little for the

love them or hate them, carts are very much part of the game, and are a major source of revenue.

Golf Club Management

april 2009


Golf CarT feaTure
be the best is difficult, but it is generally accepted that the ‘Big Three’ are made up of (in alphabetical order): Club Car, E-Z-Go and Yamaha. Each promise state-of-the-art technology, reliability, superior construction, and excellent after sales service. Each of these brands can and do claim to be the best, and having spoken to their respective clients, it becomes obvious that there is little to choose between the three. The fact that all three suppliers have a loyal group of clubs that swear by their products would suggest that the market is undecided on which brand can claim ‘Rolls Royce’ status. In fact, it must be said that with few exceptions, most clubs seem to have made their decision based on price (or an attractive leasing arrangement), with service being something of an afterthought. There is no available data on comparative long-term tests that would enable a club to rate one above the others. (Perhaps this would be a worthwhile exercise for GCM to undertake in the future.) It must be said that there were some complaints, but none worth mentioning. One club insisted that a certain brand was “#&@% useless”, but after speaking to the agent, it was discovered that the carts had not been serviced, and generally abused. They were actually stabled outside at the mercy of the elements. Another claim of dishonesty was mentioned in connection with another supplier, which we have yet to investigate. The point is, the ‘Big Three’ have cornered the lion’s share of the market, and even a limited amount of research suggests that each company can claim that its products have a lot going for them. Each of the trio is also part of a very large company, which does offer the peace of mind that comes from dealing with a true heavyweight. It is worth mentioning that as with many other products, the ‘Chinese option’ is available, but Gardener Ross with the first to caution against investing in a ‘no-name-brand’ cart. “It was a disaster,” says the club’s golf director Kevin Stone. “The carts would suddenly threaten to catch alight, and smoke would start billowing from under the seat –

alex ackron, Cse’s national Manager, Turf Division, makes a compelling case for choosing Club Car.

aesthetics of a course. Originally the supporters of the cart lobby in the United States argued that they would speed up play, but this is certainly not the case. The debate whether carts have a place in the game is now academic, and whether walking is an integral part of golf (as established by the US Supreme court during the Casey Martin hearings), is of no consequence. The notion that driving a cart and having the advantage of a GPS system as an aid, may be against the letter and spirit of the rules of golf, but rules can change as do cultures, and the golfing culture has certainly been through a metamorphosis. Of course on many modern estate courses carts are necessary, and if golfers were forced to walk great distances from green to tee they would simply not play. Sadly, many young, healthy golfers will not play unless they can use a cart – even on layouts that are easily walked. It is perhaps ironical that the Ameri-

cans, who popularised the golf cart, now penalise courses when ranking clubs where carts are compulsory. Deciding on which brand of cart might

The Golf Car associates team of Charles stuart and Dean Webster can boast a loyal group of customers that swear by Yamaha.

for more information contact: Charles on 083 307 1580 or Dean on 083 701 5332 Physical address: unit a4, The Palisades Business Park, 39 kelly road, Jet Park, east rand, 1459 Tel: 011 397 6671 fax: 086 615 8280 e-mail: webster@global.co.za www.golfcarassociates.co.za


april 2009

Golf Club Management

Golf CarT feaTure
in fact one set fire to a golfers clubs, burning his bag and his wood covers. Fortunately he wasn’t sitting in the cart at the time.” Used and reconditioned carts also enter the country, but although their price might make them an attractive option, these imports cannot match the big players when it comes to warranties or spares availability.

CluB Car
Perhaps the best recommendation of this brand comes from Alistair Beaumont, at one time known as ‘Mr. Golf Cart’. At one time Alistair had more than 1000 carts before selling his rental business to CSE, the official agents for Club Car. Now the general manager at Simola, Alistair points to the quality of these carts, but at Simola he has also acquired a small fleet of Yamaha carts, which he also rates very highly. He will not be drawn into one which one of the two brands he considers to be the best. Alex Ackron, national manager of CSE’s Turf division, lists at least 10 points where his product excels, including the all-important weight of the cart. The Club Car Precedent series, which has steadily improved over the last five years, weighs some 30 kgs less than its opposition, with the obvious advantage of causing less compaction to the turf, and resulting in longer battery life. The 360 degree bumper does an excellent job of protecting the cart, and the Surlyn UV body has its colour moulded eight times into the shell. The maintenance-free steering box is another plus, as is the Monsoon canopy top, which features drain holes that divert water away from golfers and their clubs (not that South Africans play much golf in the rain). The battery box housing design is another unique feature, but it is the on-board computer that is a major attraction. This ‘brain’ prevents over or under-charging, allows for various settings such as speed, acceleration etc. and records all vital information, not least of all usage. At the push of a button a qualified mechanic can have any fault diagnosed, and the cart can also be managed via a GPS control system, so carts can be prevented from entering no-go zones. Pretty nifty. Club Cars can be found at Fancourt, Pinnacle Point, Pezula, Arabella, Pearl Valley, Leopard Creek and Eagle Canyon – all Compleat Golfer Five Star Golf Experience facilities. Club Car is owned by Ingersol Rand, a multi-billion dollar, global, diversified industrial company.

e-z-Go makes a bold claim, which Club Car and Yamaha might want to dispute!

This well-known brand is in the Textron stable, together with the likes of Bell Helicopters, and Cessna Aircraft. It is hard to believe that this giant company that is known for its cutting-edge technology would put its name to a sub-standard product, and it is hard to fault the new E-Z-Go RXV model. This brand is the official supplier of carts to the South African PGA, and is also cosponsor of the Club Professionals championship. “This is certainly a cart of the highest quality, and the engineering of new RXV has set industry standards,” says Dennis Bruyns, the director of training and operations of the association. As websites go, E-Z-Go has the

edge on the opposition, and a rather seductive voice takes the browser through the various attributes of the RXV – and they are impressive. Claims of improved ergonomics are made, the moulded-in body colour is mentioned, and the automotive-like A-arm suspension with shock absorbers encased in coil springs is well illustrated. The energy-transfer bumper system is all very well, and the tubular-frame chassis is certainly not as corrosion resistant or as light as the Club Car’s, but the AC-drive system is an industry first and promises to knock 30 percent off energy costs. The braking system is definitely unique in the industry, and at rest, the parking brake automatically engages. This is certainly a worthwhile safety feature, particularly on hilly courses, as is the automatic control of the cart on steep gradients. Among its many devotees, E-Z-Go can boast the 5-Star facilities at both Country Club Johannesburg and Blair Atholl.

As a brand Yamaha has paid its dues, and even before Yamaha Motors was founded in 1955, the name was famous for quality and craftsmanship. The celebrated, race-proven motorcycles, marine engines and quad bikes have a loyal following, and although the Yamaha golf cart is a relative newcomer to the South African market, it has made a big impact and more than a few golfers and fleet-owners swear by them.

Pecanwood’s ken Payet with his new, revolutionary e-z-Go rXV models.

Golf Club Management

april 2009


Golf CarT feaTure
From what we have been told, the warranty is the best in the business, and the service levels surpass expectation. This product definitely compares very favourably with the best, and many would say that it is better. “This is just simply the best cart on the market,” says Ed Holding, Master Professional based at Dainfern, but of course he’s biased. Holding owns a Yamaha cart agency, as well as a fully-equipped workshop where these carts are serviced. It is interesting to note that while the other brands have a single agent in the Gauteng area, Yamaha actually has three. While Holding looks after the Dainfern residents and runs his own fleet, the two other agents find themselves quoting against each other for business in the greater Gauteng region. This cart has a proud history of innovation and ingenuity, and when the first Yamaha cart made its debut in 1979, it was powered by a petrol-driven engine, a two-stroke that was the first to feature an advanced oil-injection system. It was also the first cart to have a solid state, electronic ignition system – a radical innovation 30 years ago. In 1985 the company launched a four-stroke which was ahead of the game; equipped with

in a relatively short space of time Yamaha has made big inroads into the cart market, and the product is respected for its design integrity.

leroy azar is renowned for his swift and efficient service, and his clients will deal with nobody else.

overhead valves. The company continued to introduce industry firsts, and in 1990 pioneered moulded resin body panels, rack and pinion steering, and coil-over-shock, semi-independent suspension – all major improvements to golf cart engineering. Yamaha also introduced the internal wet-brake system which eliminated the need for brake drums and shoes. Yamaha, as the company has proven with its vast array of products including quality musical instruments, does things properly, and on the odd occasion when something does go wrong, there is never a squabble when it comes to putting things right. One of the greatest fans of the Yamaha cart is Kevin Stone – who had that unpleasant experience with the spontaneous combustion of the dodgy Chinese carts at Gardener Ross. “The service supplied to us has been unbelievable – the guys are here every week checking the carts and we have never experienced the slightest problem, I can certainly recommend Golf Car Associates and the Yamaha product”. Clubs that have taken his advice are the newly-opened Vaal de Grace and Zwartkop CC. Other clubs that have decided on keeping a fleet of Yamaha carts are Zimbali, The Wild

Coast, Champagne Sports Resort, Erinvale and Bellville. The other Yamaha agent is the well-known Leroy Azar, a respected businessman who looks after the fleet of 50 carts at Randpark, and who has several other loyal customers. “It is really about integrity of design – this cart has a reputation for reliability and it is clear that the brand’s involvement in other areas, such as the marine division, has its advantages,” says Leroy. “For example, the steering rack and ignition mechanism is properly sealed, the moulded panels under the seat last forever – the list goes on. Larger golfers will discover that there is a lot more room in our carts. Properly maintained, these carts have an extremely long life, the petrol-driven models have been known to last 20 years or more, and on the electric models it is only the batteries that need replacing, and that after a considerable period of time.” Leroy’s service is legendary. “If anything should go wrong, my cellphone is on all the time,” he says. Customers are guaranteed of swift, friendly service at all times, although some push the limits. “I have had a phone call at 7am, only to hear that a customer’s cart had a puncture.” ■

Pro Yamaha golf carts
Contact: leroy azar Tel: 083 635 5842 email: azar@yebo.co.za Website: www.proyamaha.co.za

Golf Club Management

april 2009


THe GaMe of Golf

for the love of the game
nick lanham takes a look at the state of the game, and points out that our juniors are losing the joy of being an amateur.
Playing in my club’s Wednesday competition recently, I was drawn in a four ball containing two schoolboys. They were both low single figure handicappers with serious attitudes concerning their games. During the course of the afternoon, I engaged them in conversation about themselves and their games. Though not terribly keen to talk, they said enough for me to glean that neither of them played any sport at school other than golf. They were obviously both talented ball players, but were not interested in other sports offered at their schools like cricket, hockey and rugby. They said they worked on golf every afternoon, and were therefore too busy to get involved in anything else. By the end of the round, it struck me that the afternoon had been pleasant enough, but, well… rather joyless. Despite the cheerful mood of my forty-something friend and better ball partner, there had been little bonhomie during the course of our play. So wrapped up in their individual performances, our playing partners seemed to ignore the fact that they had narrowly won our match on the final hole. Only when the five-handicapper had made three birdies in a row on the back nine had anything approaching a smile appeared on his face all day. For the most part, he had grimaced and grumbled his way through a succession of off-line approaches and threeputts, while his partner the two-handicapper had played steady but unspectacular golf, and had given the impression of somebody who would rather have been somewhere else. What, I ask, is the purpose of amateur golf? The answer surely is to have fun competing against others in a spirit of friendliness and fair play, to relish the camaraderie that comes with that, and to foster a sense of community within and between golf clubs. Consider again the key words in this answer: fun, friendliness, fair play, camaraderie, community. These words should sum up the spirit of golf, whether amateur or professional. Leaving aside the generation gap communication difficulties of my Wednesday fourball scenario, it has occurred to me that golf today is in danger of losing its way because we have put up by corporate sponsors, and some who are not ashamed to manipulate their handicaps in order to give themselves a chance of winning those prizes they so crave. While these sponsorships have influenced club golfers to the extent that a ‘good’ golf day is judged and promoted by the extent and value of the prizes, have the sponsors stopped to consider their role in the preservation of the game they now choose to use in their marketing mix? To return to the schoolboys of the opening scenario, these young golfers do not seem obviously to be enjoying the game. They appear not to have learnt all there is to learn about the spirit of amateurism, perhaps because they play with one goal only, namely to shoot as low as they can. This may not be obviously commercial, but perhaps it is a symptom of the corruption of the spirit of amateurism brought about by a focus on commercialism purely for the sake of commercialism so evident in the game today. The professional game, with its high-profile media coverage, sponsorships and starstatus champions like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, is steadily becoming detached from the mainstream of golf. The professionals are stylishly kitted out, cool and fabulously wealthy. Though accessible to the public on the world’s television screens, the pros are untouchables that amateur enthusiasts can only idolise from a distance, and try to imitate in their own games at their local clubs. And this is a problem, because so many younger amateurs seem to aspire to the success, wealth and status of the champions (seemingly oblivious to the fact that the probability of having been born with ability and big match temperament to be amongst the world’s best professionals is a little better than winning the lotto)! The joy, the characters, the fun seem to have gone from golf. And increasingly, amateurs would seem to be taking their cue from the professional game. How do we go about redressing the balance between commercialism and preservation of the sport and the manner in which it should be played? ■

failed to think carefully about the effect of the commercialisation of the game and how to deal with it. Commercialism is necessary, and a catalyst for the growth of the game. But this should never be at the expense of the spirit of amateurism. Clubs today are besotted with the club rankings published by various magazines. They are driven by a desire to climb up these lists. Clubhouses have got bigger, facilities have been upgraded, golf courses have become more expensive, and more staff have been appointed. Costs have risen. The cycle of commercialisation of the club is introduced to offset these costs, suffocating any sense of community spirit and volunteerism, and diminishing the instinct of simply playing for fun. We see clubs becoming more reluctant to involve themselves in amateur events at provincial and national levels, even haggling with an organiser of a junior event over the green fee when approached to host the event. It sometimes seems as if nothing is done that could be detrimental to the bottom line. But if nothing is done to promote junior golf then where are tomorrow’s members to come from? We see club golfers playing for big prizes


april 2009

Golf Club Management

Turf ManaGeMenT

Winning the war against Poa The green approach
After fifteen years fighting what is arguably the biggest bugbear in the golf course industry, Poa annua infestation of bentgrass greens, Jock tame, an experienced greenkeeper and turfgrass consultant, tells gCM that he has found the solution.
According to results he has obtained from programmes running in the Eastern Cape (conducted in mid-summer during the province’s worst drought in 40 years), Poa annua infestation in bentgrass greens was reduced by more than 50% within six months. Like many other golf course superintendents, Jock struggled for years to control and eliminate the Poa annua invasion. One of the difficulties is that Poa annua has hundreds of biotypes, which can all coexist at once on a golf course and even on a particular green. Thus not all existing biotypes will be eliminated when a chemical is applied or unfavourable environmental conditions are experienced. This is why just when a golf course appears to have their Poa situation under control, the problem flares up again. Jock has used his knowledge of ecological processes and environmental systems to develop a micro environmental manipulation programme. These methods are developed following a comprehensive course evaluation, and create an optimal environment for the growth of bentgrass. Programmes will often include procedures and processes to reduce thatch, encourage root development (even if some stress on greens is experienced as a result), and reduce problems such as black layer, sodium toxicity, diseases and any other difficulties that may be highlighted during the evaluation. Once the overall condition of the greens has been improved, Jock’s Poa Reduction Mix is then applied to reduce the Poa annua biotypes that may be present. Unlike other mixes, Jock’s Poa Reduction Mix is purely nutrient-based and contains no chemicals or harmful substances. During trials, no toxicity to bentgrass was experienced. The mix, together with the improved environmental conditions created by the rehabilitation program, encourages the growth of healthy bentgrass while at the same time reducing the growth of Poa annua. The mix is not commercially available and is only supplied by Jock Tame as part of his green rehabilitation programmes. “Many mixes and chemical cocktails currently used to control or reduce Poa annua significantly, retard the growth of both the Poa annua and the bentgrass, a process which reduces the bentgrass’ ability to compete with Poa successfully. Programmes also include stringent interseeding measures that introduce bentgrass varieties that are better able to compete with Poa annua,” says Tame. “Once Poa annua infestation has been reduced to below 10 percent, hand-weeding then becomes a viable option,” he adds. Due to the veracity of Poa annua biotypes and the fact that Tame’s programmes aim to create the perfect macro environment in which bentgrass can not only thrive but compete with invaders like Poa annua, the entire process may take some time. It is anticipated that rehabilitation programmes may need to run for a period of between one and three years, decreasing in intensity and management over time as the overall condition of greens improves and various Poa annua biotypes are systematically reduced. Jock Tame developed an intensive programme for the rehabilitation of greens at Port Elizabeth Golf Course, which needed urgent attention shortly before a major local tournament was to be played. As a result of this work, Port Elizabeth Golf Club will not need to re-build their greens, an event which appeared to be a certainty six months ago. ■
■ for further information, contact Jock Tame

(JT Consultancy) on 084 418 9283 or via e-mail to bronwynh@wol.co.za

(left) a patchy green at Port elizabeth Golf Club prior to the treatment – at this point a re-build seemed inevitable. (right) after the programme had been implemented, the Poa had almost been completely eliminated, with the bentgrass having regained its colour and vitality.

Golf Club Management

april 2009


without us... there is no game.

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Hr leGal

Dealing with incapacity through ill health or injury
When is the termination of an employee’s contract appropriate in cases of ill health or injury? Andrew Wilson of gCM investigates.
We deal with injury and illness in the workplace on a regular basis if not daily; staff call in sick or someone cuts their thumb. Sections 22 and 23 of The Basic Conditions of Employment Act deal in detail with employee’s rights and responsibilities if they are incapacitated and are too sick to work. This is all well and good if the illness or injury is of a minor nature and the employee is likely to be able to return to work within a short period of time. What are the procedures to be followed though if an employee is either so sick or so badly injured that the likelihood of them being able to resume work in the future is remote. The first thing to do is to investigate the extent of the incapacity in relationship to the type of work the person is doing. The investigation should include: ■ The type of job the person is doing ■ What will be the likely period of absence ■ The seriousness of the illness or injury ■ The possibility of obtaining a temporary replacement for the ill or injured person. If the findings are that the employee is likely to be absent for an unreasonable length of time and that your club will be jeopardised as a result of this, you should consider all possible alternatives prior to considering dismissal. Only once you have considered these alternatives should you contemplate dismissal. The alternatives should include: ■ The possibility of the employee securing alternative employment either within or outside the club. ■ Adapting the duties or work circumstances of the employee to suit the employee’s disability. During this whole investigation period, the employee should be given every opportunity to contribute to the process either with information or ideas. If they are a member of a union they should be assisted by a trade union representative and if not, should have where applicable, fully involved in the investigation? 3. Will the employee be capable of performing the key result areas of the job either soon or in the future? 4. If not, will the employee be able to carry out some of the key result areas and if so, could the job be adapted to accommodate the employee’s incapacity? 5. If the employee is likely to recover in due course, to the extent that they could carry out all their key result areas, what are the likely time frames and are they reasonable bearing in mind the nature of the job? 6. Could the employee’s work circumstances have been adapted to accommodate the employee? 7. Was the availability of any other suitable alternative employment, either within or outside the club, considered? The key principle to be followed should be that employers and employees treat each other with mutual respect. ‘The Code of Good Practice on Dismissals’ issued by the CCMA (The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration) stresses that a premium will be placed on both employment justice and the efficient operation of the business. While employees should be protected from arbitrary action, employers are entitled to satisfactory conduct and work performance from their employees. See the CCMA website www.ccma.org.za Remember, it isn’t enough just to make sure that you have paid the person the appropriate notice as covered in either their contract of employment or the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. Any termination of contract has to be effected for a fair reason and in accordance with a fair procedure. ■
■ if you have a labour-related query, contact

in sickness or in health – the key is mutual respect.

the option of being assisted by a fellow employee. Probably one of the most important things to consider is the link between the degree of incapacity and the perceived fairness of a dismissal. You should also take in to consideration the cause of the illness or injury. Two examples are: 1. In the case of alcoholism or drug dependency, counselling and rehabilitation may be appropriate steps for an employer to take before reverting to dismissal. 2. In the case where an employee’s work situation has contributed to the incapacity, every effort should be taken to avoid dismissal. The courts will not look favourably on an employer who dismisses an employee who was incapacitated by a work-related illness or was injured at work. The courts will look at the following criteria when considering whether a dismissal for incapacity on the grounds of ill health or injury is fair. 1. What investigations took place prior to the decision to dismiss? 2. Was the employee and a representative,

andrew Wilson at consultaew@iafrica.com or on 082 575 3861.

Golf Club Management

april 2009


Golf Course MainTenanCe

organic Golf Course Maintenance The sensible option
In the first of a series of articles, gCM looks at the move towards organic maintenance.
As the world becomes more aware of environmental sustainability and water conservation, it is understandable that golf courses have become targets for environmentalists. It is an unfortunate reality that while many golf courses in South Africa are positioned in beautiful natural surroundings and ecosystems, many operate without a real sense of environmental responsibility or accountability. Unless our industry takes note of this, and promptly implements a prudent proactive strategy in dealing with this present ecological dilemma, we are going to come in for a lot more flak – the last thing we need when many clubs are fighting for survival. the principles of Organic growing are based on: The Principle of health Organic activity should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animal, human and planet as one indivisible. The health of individuals and communities cannot be separated from the health of ecosystems. The Principle of ecology Organics should be based on living ecological systems and cycles, working with them and helping sustain them. This principle roots organics within living ecological systems. soil, full of the building blocks of healthy plant life. In other words it is swarming with the natural, living organisms that provide the minerals and nutrients essential to sustain and produce new, healthy plant growth on a sustainable basis. Organic fertilizers stimulate microbial activity, replenish carbon sources (humus) and build good soil structure which improves water and nutrient retention in soils. These fertilizers are also bound in complex forms because of the use of natural nutrients from plant and animal sources, or rock powders. These materials need to be broken down by soil microbes in order for their nutrients to be released; a timely process known as mineralization. Because organic fertilizers work slowly, it provides long term nutrition and steady, rather than excessive growth. This ensures longer term sustained release of nutrients.

WHaT is THe orGaniC PHilosoPHY?
Organics can be defined as a natural form of growing that relies on an integrated eco-management system and attempts to eliminate external synthetic chemical inputs. It is a holistic production management system that promotes sustainable soil health, incorporating optimal physical conditioning, balanced nutrition and biological activity. Understanding plant health is much the same as understanding human health. Research shows that almost 90% of all insect and disease problems encountered by plants can be attributed to deficiencies in the basic growing needs of plants. When plants are strong and healthy their own natural immune system can resist most stress related problems. Organics is based on systems and practices that cultivate beneficial processes and interactions, encouraging internal stability rather than dependence solely on external control measures. Organic growing enhances long-term soil fertility, structure and biological activity, as well as conserving soil resources, ensuring sustainable environmental development.

THe PrinCiPle of fairness
Organics should build on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to the common environment. Fairness is characterised by equity, respect, justice and stewardship of the environment. Natural and environmental resources should be managed in a way that is socially and ecologically just and should be held in trust for future generations.

HoW Does orGaniC ferTilizer CoMPare WiTH sYnTHeTiC ferTilizer in TerMs of effiCienCY anD CosT?
Comparisons are tricky, as the growth attained by using either chemical or organic fertilizers are often similar. However, in the long run most organic fertilizers are much more productive than their chemical counterparts because they improve soil structure and increase the soil’s ability to hold moisture and nutrients. Chemical fertilizers will not improve soil structure. In fact, because they are composed of high concentrations of mineral salts, they are capable of killing off many of the soil’s organisms that are responsible for decomposition and soil formation. If only chemicals are added, the soil gradually loses its organic matter and microbiotic activity. As this material is used up, the soil structure breaks down, becoming lifeless, compact and less able to hold water and nutrients. In next month’s issue of GCM we will be looking at this important subject in more detail, and speaking to the major supplier of organic fertilizer. ■

THe PrinCiPle of Care
Organic activities should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment. Precaution and responsibility are the key concerns in management, development and technology choices in organic growing practises. Science is necessary to ensure that organic growing is healthy, safe and ecologically sound. Decisions should reflect the values and needs of all who might be affected.

HoW Does orGaniCs Work?
Organic growing ingeniously mimics nature, using composting and other enriching activities to deliver rich nutrient sources to the soil and its microbial inhabitants. The constant breakdown and absorption of organic material leads to a rich, powerful

THe PrinCiPles of orGaniCs
According to the IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Argriculture Movements),

Golf Club Management

april 2009


HuMan resourCe DeVeloPMenT

One of the key challenges for top management during a recession is to retain and enhance the experience and skills of the teams working for them, so that they can emerge stronger when the up-turn comes. One of the surest ways to destroy this challenge is to consider retrenchments. The mere mention of the word invokes fear, resentment, as well as a loss of loyalty and commitment among not only those at risk of losing their jobs but also those lucky enough ‘to survive the cut’ to use a golfing parlance. A good first step is to take a long hard look at all your systems methods and procedures. Very often, things are being done out of habit. You need to stop doing anything that isn’t directly adding to the golfing experience of your members and visitors. If you are really thorough about this exercise, you will probably be able to cut out between 10 and 20 percent of your activities. The next step is to identify those 20 percent of activities that contribute to 80 percent of returns (Pareto Principle). As with most things in life, 80 percent of our time is spent inefficiently, in ‘activity traps’, contributing very little to the bottom line. You need to identify the 20 percent of activities that really do add value, and make sure that they receive the necessary time and resources. There is one more step to consider before you are in a position to consider short-time in an effort to save the club as well as retain and enhance the experience and skills of the people working for you. I use the phrase ‘retain and enhance the experience and skills’ specifically, as it is not only a question of hanging on to people, but, in order to survive this recession, your people will have to be more productive, efficient and knowledgeable than ever before. It really will be case of ‘survival of the fittest’! So before you move on, take a good long hard look at your training

an alternative to retrenchment
As business gets tougher and cash flow dries up, the payroll is often the first expense account to come under scrutiny. retrenchment should always be a last resort. Andrew Wilson of gCM suggests that short-time should be considered as an alternative.
will need to enter in to collective bargaining. Again, if you are able to obtain the agreement of the unions to short-time, you will need to confirm the terms and conditions agreed to in writing If you are unable to obtain agreement, whether unionised or not, you will need to consider whether it is worth going the retrenchment route. If the economic viability of your club depends on you being able to reduce your staff overheads, and you have been unable to obtain the consent of your staff to short-time, then retrenchment would be a viable alternative. Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act clearly outlines the steps you must follow when consulting staff on the possibility of retrenchments based on ‘operational requirements’.

TWo THinGs To Bear in MinD:
1. Do not offer your staff an either/or situation. In other words don’t retrench your staff in order to force them to accept short-time. The reason to go the retrenchment route would be to enable you to hire new staff who would be willing to work under the proposed terms and conditions of service. So avoid making statements such as “I will re-employ you if you agree to the new terms and conditions”. 2. As mentioned earlier, retrenchment should be a last resort as it is likely to tear the very fabric of your employment relationships. Trust and loyalty will be undermined as well as experience and skills being lost forever. ■
■ for more information on Hr or ir issues,

Missing the cut – retrenchment should certainly be a last resort, and the very mention of the word causes fear and resentment.

budget and schedules. The training budget is one of the easiest to cut, but should be one of the last you consider cutting. Once you have dealt with these three steps you will be in a position to start talking to either individuals or the team as a whole about the possibility of short-time. Legislation is very specific with regard to the process you should follow. Ideally you need to obtain the willing consent of your employee or employees to shorttime. If you are able to do this then you should get each affected employee to sign an addendum to their contract of employment specifying the changes. If you are unable to obtain their consent and are unionised, you

contact andrew Wilson at consultaew@iafrica.com or on 082 575 3861.

Golf Club Management

april 2009


Doug Bain
Randpark’s general manager Doug Bain has certainly made his presence felt at this club, and in recognition of his achievements over a relatively short space of time, he was awarded the Club Managers’ Association of South Africa’s highest accolade. “This has been a great honour, and certainly a highlight of my career in club management,” says Doug Bain, after being honoured by his peers at the Compleat Golfer Annual Awards dinner. But for the ex-Capetonian, satisfying though the pat on the back for a job well done may be, it is all about his club and it is obvious that his determination to transform Randpark into a premier golfing facility is what drives him. After completing his studies at UCT and obtaining a BCom. degree, Bain was employed by Westlake, the club where he had grown up. “I had been a member at Westlake since I was 12, and took up the position as admin manager,” he says. “When our manager retired, I was offered the position.” When the position of GM at Randpark became vacant three years ago, Doug was in Johannesburg to attend the Compleat Golfer Annual Awards Dinner. “I was very flattered to have been nominated for this award on that occasion, and it was suggested that I apply for the position at Randpark,” he says. Soon after his appointment, it became obvious that the 36-hole facility had made the right decision, and the enthusiasm and energy of their new manager began to show. A lot must be said for the new committee at Randpark, who clearly made the decision to take more of a back seat in the running of the clubs affairs, allowing Bain to get on with the job. Over the past few years we have seen something of a ‘Randpark Renaissance’ –

eXTra sPeCial ManaGer of THe MonTH

Manager of the Year
clients to Randpark for a function or a golf day,” he says. “There was a time when our members felt as though they were kept in the dark, and that no one was interested in what they might have to say about decisions being taken. Hopefully we have changed that perception, because we really care about their opinions. I’m happy to say that we have improved our communication with the members; everyone receives a weekly newsletter, we have implemented a SMS tee time notification system, and have created a members-only section on our website,” says Bain. Doug is quick to point out that his success at the club, which has included increasing both membership numbers and the amount of rounds played on both courses, is due in no small part to the enthusiasm of his team – a team which he assembled. “The promotion of Roger Innes to the position of head course superintendant, and the appointment of Derek Lloyd as golf director has played an important part in the positive changes at the club, and introducing the positions of food and beverage manager (Hein Oosthuizen) and events manager (Taryn Broeders) has also greatly improved the way in which we work,” he says. Recent visitors to Randpark have been astounded by the new look clubhouse, a major project which transformed the large, rather austere and impractical design into something a lot more functional. The flow of both golfers and the movement within the clubhouse has been streamlined, and the opening up of the upper level verandah has created an altogether friendlier feel. A seemingly rather minor change, that of the club’s logo, has been part of the strategy of

Doug Bain is a popular and deserving recipient of the CMasa Manager of the Year award, and his sweeping changes at his club have paid dividends.

and while the club was long considered to be one of the more successful operations, with a large membership and two excellent courses, Bain saw a lot of room for improvement, and set about changing not only operational systems but the very culture of the club. The list of Bain’s improvements is a long one, but one of his prime objectives was to change the image of the club, and to instill a sense of pride in the members. “Probably the greatest sense of achievement is when one of the members comes up to me and tells me just how good they feel about the club – how they are proud to bring their friends or

Extra SpEcial tiMES, Extra SpEcial ScOtcH
Not for sale to persons under the age of 18 20 april 2009 Golf Club Management

Doug with his team: l to r: Derek lloyd (Golf Director), roger innes (snr. Course superintendant), saul stiglingh (security Manager), and Taryn Broeders (events Manager). absent: Dale Coetzee (executive Chef) and Heine oosthuizen (f&B Manager). The extensive revamp of the clubhouse has resulted in a more cheerful atmosphere at the club, and revenue figures reflect the approval of the members.

breathing new life into the club’s brand. In the past Randpark was seen as a rather staid, conservative institution; it has now acquired more of a country club feel, where in keeping with the current trend, the family unit is warmly welcomed. Even a supervised kid’s play centre has been established, and the festive atmosphere that prevails on a Friday night is proof that

this departure from the norm has worked. Doug Bain has certainly ticked all the boxes when it comes to good governance – the club is well on track with its Employment Equity goals, and a strong emphasis has been placed on staff training. In the final analysis, golfers vote with their feet, and Randpark under the leadership of Doug Bain has bucked the current

economic trends. Over the past financial year and the beginning of this year rounds have increased by six percent. The diminishing membership base has been reversed and new members have been welcomed to the club. (An increase of one percent during the last year). During the last two years a revenue surplus from normal operations has been increased by 95 percent. GCM congratulates the Manager of the Year, and wishes Doug Bain and his team continued success in the future. ■

since the appointment of roger innes, both courses have continued to improve, and the amount of rounds played at randpark continues to increase.

Not for sale to persons under the age of 18 Golf Club Management april 2009 21


flag this page!
‘unfurled’ or ‘hoisted’ for the first time at the telkom PgA Championship at Country Club Johannesburg in February this year was the new golf Sailflag – a South African entrepreneur’s answer to the droopy, floppy invisible flagstick on the golf course.
Strange though it may look to the purist, the new Golf Sailflag is quite brilliant in its simplicity and, for the first time in golf, gives a real opportunity to worthwhile corporate sponsorship of the one place that every golfer always looks, on all 18 holes – the flagstick! Its patented sail shape and rib battons are designed to support the material and create perpetual advertising surfaces visible from all directions. It swivels freely around the flagstick and has ‘flapzone’, which indicates wind strength at the hole, while the sail acts as a windvain even in the slightest of breezes. It conforms to both USGA and R&A rules and has now been endorsed by the PGA of South Africa and is destined to become a PGA Global Product: the objective is to

There is no doubt that branding on the sailflag is far more visible than on the traditional flags.

at the Telkom PGa Championships the new sailflag received the nod of approval from sponsors, players and caddies.

launch and market the Sailflag in South Africa, ensuring that the model works within a local golf environment before taking it to the global market, thereby growing the game and benefiting the PGA of South Africa and helping it to meet its objectives of promoting and growing the game. The idea is to offer golf clubs the opportunity to benefit from the income generated by impressive branding on an area of the golf course on which every golfer will concentrate and focus his and her attention on multiple occasions during every round of golf. With the PGA logo also in evidence on each Sailflag, the sponsor gets added association with both the club branding and the iconic and widely respected and recognised PGA logo. To find out more about the Golf Sailflag and how it might benefit your club, or to enter into the PGA Partner Programme and receive a set of flags (with the national corporate sponsor’s logo) for your club free of charge, contact Richard Michelmore on Richard@thegolfsailflag.com or visit www.thegolfsailflag.com. ■


april 2009

Golf Club Management

Turf ManaGeMenT

environmental consciousness
every greenkeeper’s responsibility
sPraYinG of CHeMiCals
All spraying equipment must be regularly calibrated to ensure that the correct amount of product is being put down as per manufacturers specifications. Overdosing will impact the environment negatively and will also waste a lot of money. When spraying, the conditions should be conducive to spraying, thus preventing any spray drift which could affect the untargeted areas such as natural areas. Once the spraying is finished the spray tank should be cleaned in a responsible manner. Any left over chemicals should not be dumped down the nearest drain. of companies that will provide such bins and then regularly service them. Petrol and diesel spills should obviously be prevented. Machines should be filled up in a controlled area that will stop the spread of any spilled fuel. Machines that smoke excessively should never, ever be allowed to go out onto any golf course for any reason.

It goes without saying that it is every greenkeeper’s duty to insure that he or she takes every possible measure to protect the environment that they work in. things can go wrong that will impact on the environment around the golf course, but with a bit of care most can be avoided, writes turftek’s Murray Veitch.
on the irrigation system to ensure that water is not wasted. Golf courses are continually being blamed for using too much water and it is difficult to defend ourselves when pipes leak, and sprinkler heads are not fully functional. Most of the new courses are making sure that irrigation sprinklers are set in such a way that they do not water areas of rough, but we still see over-irrigation as well as areas of natural veld being poorly managed.

ruBBle reMoVal
All rubble that is removed from the course must be discarded at a controlled site. There is nothing worse than a golf course with a rubbish dump in one corner. All material that can be composted should be, and all other materials should be taken to municipal dump sites.

Grass seleCTion
More thought is being put in to which species of grass best suits specific sites. Golf courses have been justifiably criticised for failing to make best use of indigenous grasses. It is accepted that the use of ‘alien’ species are needed to provide the best putting surfaces, tees and fairways in certain areas, but it is important that these be carefully controlled – a common failing is to allow kikuyu, for example, to encroach in areas where it can overrun indigenous species.

With the current price of fertilizer and further increases likely, it is even more important to ensure that the fertilizer is applied to the correct target and at the correct rates. There must be no spreading into watercourses that run through the course or leaching into natural areas. Over application of fertilizer is the primary cause of run-off into sensitive areas.

ConsTruCTion anD uP-GraDes
During construction phases is when a golf course is most vulnerable to environmental damage. Many new golf courses get washed away, thereby negatively affecting the surrounding environment. Hard lessons have been learnt, and the construction industry has mostly eliminated this type of contamination. Minor up-grades on existing courses can also go wrong, and just as much care should be taken to prevent erosion etc.

MainTenanCe MaCHine Care
Golf course machinery should be professionally cared for. Oil leaks from engines and hydraulic pipes should be prevented at all costs through regular maintenance. Old engine oil should also be responsibly discarded into recycling bins. There are a lot

WaTer HazarDs
It was fashionable in the past to have neatly trimmed edges around water hazards, but this practice is known to do little for the environment. Water grasses and sedges should be encouraged to grow in these areas, as these provide breeding sites and habitat for water birds and other species. ■

irriGaTion sYsTeMs
Proper maintenance must be carried out

Golf Club Management

april 2009


afGri eQuiPMenT

afgri equipment
The green machines
Afgri Equipment, situated in Brits, supplies their instantly-recognisable John Deere equipment to customers in Gauteng, the North West Province, the Free State, Mpumalanga and the Lowveld. The team that focuses solely on golf course equipment is the largest in the industry, and the support offered by this team is unrivalled. “We can service in the field or at our workshops, depending on the work required” says David Kelder, marketing manager for Afgri Equipment. “We have a dedicated parts administrator, and it is his sole responsibility to service our golf clients,” he adds. The company carries a huge amount of spare parts for golf-related products – currently valued in

John Deere equipment has a reputation to be proud of and this brand’s team of dedicated technicians takes their green heritage very seriously.
excess of R2 million, and John Deere’s parts distribution warehouse in Rosslyn has more than R5 million worth of parts for the golf and turf division. Daily deliveries are made from Rosslyn to Afgri Equipment’s Brits office, so downtime waiting for a particular part is minimal. In the unlikely event of a particular part not being available, it can

The 7400 makes light of the most severe contours – its power and traction is superior to any other similar mowers on the market.


april 2009

Golf Club Management

afGri eQuiPMenT
be flown in from the US in 7 days. “This represents the best response in the industry,” says Kelder. Afgri lists clubs such as Zebula Country and Golf Estate, Elements, Mooi Nooi, Kyalami, Blue Valley, Irene, Lost City and many others among its loyal customers. The Middelburg Country Club is another course that chooses John Deere equipment to keep their course in top condition, and recently acquired the 7400 mower – a versatile machine that impressed manager Quentin du Toit. “This is an effective mower than can operate on a lot of different surfaces, and it is very agile,” he says. “All our equipment is John Deere, and Afgri looks after us – the deal they did for us on this machine was very good, so the decision wasn’t hard to make.” The 7400 Cut, Trim and Surrounds Mower is likely to make waves among course superintendants, as this machine has a range of attractive features. The following should be considered before making a decision on the purchase of any similar mower: ■ Engine power ■ Traction system ■ Hydraulic system ■ Width on demand features ■ Contour flowing ■ New 27-inch deck ■ Front deck reach system ■ New operator command arm ■ Operator station ■ Ease of servicing ■ Availability and price

This machine’s innovative decks allow for trimming the awkward areas – in this situation bunker lips, without damaging the walls of the bunker.

The width on demand system is a great innovation, and the deck frame construction allows for closer trimming. The ability of the front decks to extend beyond the tyres means that bunker edges can be neatly trimmed without the machine damaging the bunker walls. The command arm is easy to understand, and after a short training period any operator is sure to be able to master the multiple functions of the 7400. Another important feature is the front-mounted radiator – resulting in a cleaner air-flow as well as better operator comfort. “As with all our equipment, from standard fleet items to Dakota turf trailers, soil relievers, etc our products come with a two-year or

1 500-hour warranty. We also offer tailored financial packages through John Deere credit,” says Kelder. “In the case of new courses, we will supply grow-in equipment without charge, on condition that the order for new equipment is confirmed. The grow-in equipment will be maintained and serviced by Afgri at a negotiated fee.” Afgri also assumes responsibility for the training of operators anytime new equipment is delivered – with a strong emphasis on preventative maintenance and safety. On conclusion of this training, each operator will receive a certificate from John Deere attesting to the fact that they have successfully completed the operation course. ■

WHaT’s in a naMe?
At the end of February 2009, as the economic crisis showed no sign of easing, chairman and CEo of John Deere robert W. Lane reminded customers that his company had weathered challenges of virtually every sort for more than 170 years. history has shown that after times of adversity, John Deere has emerged in an even stronger competitive position. built on the cornerstones of integrity, commitment, quality and innovation, the ‘green’ brand has never failed to deliver. In each of the last five years, beginning in 2004, earnings records of John Deere have been established, and last year net income topped $2 billion for the first time. Afgri Equipment is proud to be associated with a company that is obviously doing things right. What’s in a name? Quite a lot actually.

Middelburg’s Quentin du Toit speaks very highly of his new purchase, pointing out that the machine’s versatility had a lot to do with the decision to acquire the 7400.

Golf Club Management

april 2009


BirDies anD BoGeYs

Course superintendent of the Year
Pieter Cooper certainly had a head start on many of his peers – he actually had an interest in turf when he was five years old. “My dad, who was the club captain of rustenburg, was a keen and knowledgeable golfer, and we actually had a green in our back yard at home,” he says. “I would help him with this, and I suppose my interest remained.”
An accomplished golfer, Pieter turned professional, but after a period of three years he decided to focus on course maintenance, and worked at the Mooi Nooi club as assistant green keeper under the guidance of Dick Brown. This course has always been considered one of our nine-hole gems, and has a reputation for being superbly conditioned year-round. The touring pros that have played in Winter Tour events held here have always praised the work done by the green keeping staff, and Pieter learned a lot here, taking this knowledge to Rustenburg Golf Club, where he would work for 10 years. “It was 10 years of hard work, but a great challenge,” he says. Working with what was a relatively modest budget, the Rustenburg course improved in leaps and bounds, and Pieter was soon recognised as one of the most dedicated turf managers around. So what is the secret? “Well, being a reasonably good golfer helps, and I when I play other courses, I am constantly on the lookout for ideas, and always like to bring something home,” he says. “This job involves constantly trying to improve.” Pieter has recently taken up the position of course superintendent at Wingate Park Country Club in Pretoria, and he looks forward to making his presence felt. “My decision to move had a lot to do with my kids – I have a son and a daughter, both of whom are

Pieter Cooper (right) is congratulated on his achievement – Wingate Park Country Club’s gain is rustenburg’s loss.

showing a lot of promise as golfers. My son was selected to play for North West Province, and my daughter for North West Schools – this involved a lot of travelling, so hopefully being based in Pretoria will help them.” His success has involved good labour relations and on-going training of staff so

his high standards can be met. “My goal is to maintain the course in the best possible condition year round, and not to only make a special effort when say, the club championships is being played.” GCM wishes Pieter a long and happy stay at Wingate Park. ■

More QuesTions THan ansWers?
the South African golf Association has published a list of the most commonly asked questions regarding handicapping on their website – but it would seem that there are many more queries than are currently published. the effort on the part of the administrative body to clear up misunderstandings must be lauded, but most golfers we speak to see no value in the way handicaps are presently calculated. the point is well made than many clubs have failed hopelessly in their duty to stamp out, or at the very least limit handicap manipulation. It is all very well to gather statistical data on which range of handicaps win most often, and to attempt to achieve some equity between low and high handicap players. gCM is all for publishing a blacklist of known cheats – so if there are any of these among your membership, or you have identified those who visit your club with the sole purpose of plundering prizes, please let us know. the full list of FAQs can be seen at www.saga.co.za


april 2009

Golf Club Management

BirDies anD BoGeYs

Central Gauteng Golf union awards Dinner – a winning formula
It was gCM’s privilege to be invited to the Cggu’s inaugural Awards Dinner – an impressive occasion that proved that the union’s new strategic direction and change of image is on the right track.
That Central Gauteng is the strongest among golf’s provincial governing bodies is news to no one. It is also true to say that the provincial Unions, including that of Central Gauteng, tended to keep a low profile, or at least that has been the feeling among most in the industry. It is now obvious that with a new group of office-bearers that have a new, refreshing vision for the future, this is about to change. The first step was to host a glittering affair at the Wanderers Club, an awards dinner that combined the Northern Amateur Open Awards and the traditional Awards dinner. The brainchild of Union President Kevin du Preez and Vice-President Errol Mills, who did much of the organising, the function showed that it is not about pomp, ceremony and long-winded speeches, nor should a gathering of golfers at a function be a ribald party in the mould of certain club captains’ dinners. This was a dignified function with a fair sprinkling of humour which honoured the achievements of amateur golfers who had excelled in various championships and

from l to r: MC Dan nichol, Thomas aiken, etienne Groenewald and Dorian Wharton-Hood – their chat was a highlight of the evening.

The President of CGGu with his Vice-President errol Mills can pride themselves in a job well done.

tournaments during the past season. Although there might have been better turnout among the league players that won their divisions, there is no doubt that after this first effort word will get around that this evening was a big deal, and will surely become even bigger next year. Perhaps not enough has been made of the effort made by our top amateurs in the past, a function such as this goes some way to rectifying this. Dan Nichol, in his role of master of ceremonies, excelled in keeping proceedings lively and found the right balance between being entertaining and recognising the seriousness of this occasion. The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the ‘informal chat’ involving Dorian Wharton-Hood, Etienne Groenewald and Thomas Aiken. Dorian, one of our finest ama-

teurs, had worked out that Reg Taylor, Jimmy Boyd and David Suddards were our finest ever amateur players, and Etienne made mention of his mysterious ability to avoid selection for our international team despite his best efforts of winning almost everything he played in. His modest account of becoming the first player to win both the national strokeplay and matchplay championships – after which the selectors were forced to pick him, was most entertaining, as was his account of being ‘in the zone’, a place where he seemingly spent some time. Thomas is a fine prospect, and a thorough gentleman, but if he took as many shots to play 36 holes as the amount of words he used to answer a question, he would never survive a cut. This was a most enjoyable evening and a job well done by the revamped Union. ■

Golf Club Management

april 2009


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killing the Golden Goose
a developer’s viewpoint
I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a property developer of golf resorts and estates. If one were to believe the general media, my profession is comparable to that of a pimp, errant politician, dishonest Wall Street banker or ambulance-chasing lawyer. I have another confession; I am a ‘greenie’ and a ‘bunny hugger’. The fact is, if anyone is developing a golf estate, the beauty of the terrain (as well as many other variables), is critical to the success of a project. In the most cynical analysis, it makes financial sense to pick a beautiful spot, and having identified such a spot to develop, why would anyone wish to destroy the very attribute that attracted them in the first place? When I first set eyes on Pinnacle Point in 1994, I fell in love with the site with its magnificent fynbos, as did my old friend Peter Matkovich, who would later design this world class golf course. The same thing happened when I first set eyes on the Sishen Golf Course, which I was later to develop with Andre Markgraaff. (Yes, the Andre of rugby fame). Big Andre grew up in the Northern Cape and said to me before I had seen the place: “’n kameeldoring boom is moeier as a kaalgat vrou!” I believe that golf estates have such a bad image in the media because the green lobby has been very successful in promoting their narrow minded cause. Highly respected journalists such as Melanie Gosling and John Yeld in the Cape, do a wonderful job in promoting conservation and playing the role of public watchdogs. But they seem to harbour an anti-golf obsession which they continue to preach. Yes, golf courses do use a lot of water – but this is a management issue. In Pinnacle Point’s case, the course is irrigated from a new water treatment plant which serves not only Pinnacle Point, but the suburbs of Mossel Bay. (Bear in mind, this plant was built by Pinnacle Point at a cost of R25 million.) In the case of the beautiful old George Golf Club, for many years only the greens and tees were irrigated, as they received sufficient rainfall. Even with their ungraded irrigation system, their water consumption is limited, and supplied from the club’s own water supplies and storage dams. The Devonvale Golf and Wine Estate is another example. For years the course had water shortages and therefore at times the course was dry – so what, if you wished to play there you did. Generalisations about water need to be assessed in far greater detail on a case by case basis. We then have to listen to ill-informed diatribes from politicians who claim that golf courses take up too much valuable land which should be utilised to produce food. In the first place, the tourism potential with its economic benefits and job creation which result from tourism at golf estates such as Simola, Pezula and the Fancourts of the world, exceeds any agricultural value, even if the crop was dagga or coca leaves for SAA’s export drive! More importantly however, is the actual realistic valuation of the amount of land which golf courses take up of our country’s land mass. A rough estimate if one took, say, 100HA’s per golf course and assumed there were 100 golf courses in the Cape Province; this would amount to approximately .005% of the land usage. We also hear the other argument that golf courses encourage ‘alien’ species of plants, and that vegetation should be indigenous. Imagine Stellenbosch without its ‘alien’ oak trees, or Pretoria without its ‘alien’ Jacarandas. I have expressed the view to conservationalists that after Kirstenbosch, Fancourt

In our lead story we tried to put the whole Pinnacle Point story into perspective, but to add weight to the argument in favour of this and other developments, we asked developer Andre Bruyns to have his say, and he duly obliged.
has the most beautiful gardens in South Africa. What twisted logic can ever suggest that Fancourt is negative in an environmental sense? (Incidentally, Kirstenbosch also nurtures many ‘alien’ plant species – the distinction must be made between controlled specimens and those that are invasive). If the image of golf estates is bad, it pales into significance when it is compared to the maverick incompetence of the environmental authorities who are employed to evaluate E.I.A proposals (Environmental Impact Assessments). The worst of these officials are to be found in the George office of the Dept. of Environmental Affairs. When Pinnacle Point started its EIA process, with an extremely experienced professional team, the George office appointed a case officer to evaluate the case as is normal procedure. At the public participation process, prior to detailed final documentation, he contacted the Mossel Bay Botanical Society (or some such) and urged them to object to Pinnacle Point’s application – playing both prosecutor and judge in the same case. I’m further informed that he also arrived at Lagoon Bay for his first site visit and told the developer that “he didn’t approve” of golf courses, this before the process had even begun. No wonder this development has dragged on for so long, at enormous cost to the investors, and at the cost of thousands of jobs. Not all environmental officials show such near-sighted vision, and it has been my privilege to meet and work with some extremely professional and objective environmentalists. One such person is Andy Gubb of WESSA, who has now been seconded to Parliament to guide environmental legislation. My erstwhile partners at Pinnacle Point (I left in 2005) negotiated a groundbreaking contract with


april 2009

Golf Club Management

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Prior to work on the Pinnacle Point course, an enormous amount of work was involved with the removal of black wattle which had taken over large areas of fynbos.

WESSA in 2002, in respect of an environmental management plan which entrenched the controls to manage the sensitive areas in the development. Ironically it was WESSA’S George branch which recently interdicted Pinnacle because of the water seepage into the archaeological caves, ostensibly because of the irrigation on the 9th and 18th greens. The media predictably made little mention of the fact that WESSA lost the case with costs, appealed and lost again. I can only imagine that the George mavericks have embarrassed their WESSA counterparts who do such a good job. Another environmentalist with whom I have had the privilege of working with is Dr Bruce McKenzie at Kirstenbosch. When we developed the Kalahari Gholf en Jag project at Sishen, the local Northern Cape WESSA branch also objected, on the grounds that we might destroy the camel-thorn trees (kameeldoringboom). They relied on some obscure legislation in the Forestry Act which allows the said Department to stop any development for a year to allow them to investigate. (This legislation has only ever been used once to investigate a tree in Soweto). Under Dr McKenzie’s guidance we offered to write a

protection clause for the trees, ad infinitum and to incorporate such measures into the title deeds, as well as to register a “National Park” area which could never be developed. Simply common sense and good environmental management. In conclusion, let me make a few observations about the value of golf estates to our economy and job creation. Pinnacle Point makes a wonderful case study. When we first negotiated to acquire the land, Mossel Bay was a dying town, with unemployment estimated at 60%. Nestle and Langeberg had closed their factories, the fishing industry was struggling, and there had been a huge influx of people during the construction stage of Mossgas who were subsequently without jobs. We persuaded the Municipality to sell us the land and we in turn would apply for a casino license, and if successful, build a resort. The casino license took a lot of time (and money), and then we had all the delays because of the intransigence of the Dept. of Environmental Affairs. The rest is history. Some 3 000 jobs were created, and the resort was the start of a boom in the town, to the extent that in 2004

it was considered to be one of the fastest growing towns in South Africa. The Pinnacle Point site was also suffering the same fate as the town. It was overrun by alien vegetation and the sewerage plant (which was located where the 8th green now stands) was pouring raw effluent into the sea since it was running over capacity, and the Municipality didn’t have the funds to upgrade it, or to maintain the site. The development of Pinnacle Point changed all that. I have long held the view that our industry should be more aggressive and communicate the realities to the public but unfortunately this is unlikely to happen: the role players fear reprisals and therefore have to tiptoe around officialdom. Our little company, GDI Holdings, does not have that problem – we have decided to shift our focus to opportunities further afield, such as Mauritius, Africa and Europe. It isn’t necessarily easier to develop there, but at least we are welcome. Mauritius, for example, has laws which actually encourage golf estates, and Italy even gives cash grants to promote golf developments because they recognise the benefits. Our greenies have a lot to answer for. ■

Golf Club Management

april 2009