The African Turf Academy at Silver Lakes Estate, Pretoria hosted their first golf course management and machinery maintenance workshop on 7 and 8 September. The African Turf Academy Golf Course Management Workshop brought together a wealth of international speakers to present to over 70 delegates that were in attendance. Each day the audience was welcomed and then split into three sessions dealing with golf course management, hydraulic and electric maintenance or troubleshooting and maintenance of sprinklers and valves.
Ahead of the first day’s breakout sessions, Andrew McKenna, Director of Golf at Silver Lakes Country Club, gave a brief background to the African Turf Academy which was established in 2013 sponsored by The R&A and Ransomes Jacobsen. Support from Rain Bird followed and they are hoping to gain additional sponsorship in the near future. Andrew reported that they started with only three students but this year they have 18 full-time students, one of which is supported by the Ernie Els Foundation. Silver Lakes is the only GEO Certified golf course in South Africa.
Day one of the golf course management session saw presentations from Craig Haldane, Director of Golf Course Maintenance at the Emirates Club; Carmen Magro, Vice President of Business Development and Agronomy at Stevens Water; Howard Swan, Golf Course Architect and Consultant with Swan Golf Designs and Peter Matkovich of The Matkovich Group.
The hydraulic and electric maintenance session was hosted by Hanfried Sievers, Textron Golf Product Support Manager and Scott Forrest, International Business Development Manager for Jacobsen whilst the troubleshooting session was conducted by Donald Matthews, Area Manager Golf at Africa Rain Bird International with assistance from Craig Haldane and Carmen Magro.
Day two began with Craig Haldane talking about overseeding and Carmen Magro about human resource management. Howard Swan then gave an interesting insight into golf course design and development.
Wendy Cole, Manager – Sustainability at The R&A, spoke about The R&A’s role in sustainability and its Greenkeeping Scholarship and Greenkeeping Machinery Programmes.
Whilst this was taking place another two technical sessions were underway with Hanfried Sievers and Steven Nixon demonstrating cutting unit and engine maintenance. Meanwhile Donald Matthews was explaining about troubleshooting and maintenance of irrigation electrical equipment.
At the end of each day delegates had the opportunity to ask questions of the panel of speakers.
The African Turf Academy ran a very well-organised and attended workshop, which received much positive feedback from the industry professionals throughout the world who were present.