How will 2018 be for the industry?
by TurfPro Editor, Steve Gibbs
Steve Gibbs

Today we look back on our most read items of last year, almost all of which were negative news stories - but is that actually a bad thing?


May I wish you all a rather belated Happy New Year!


It's great to be back with you every Monday, bringing you all the news relevant to the UK professional turfcare industry. We'll be with you throughout 2018, every Monday lunchtime, with a round-up of the latest stories.


As a bit of fun today, you'll find a rundown of our Top Ten most read stories during 2017 on this TurfPro Weekly Briefing. Although to be honest, 'fun' isn't particularly the word which springs to mind when looking down the list of news items which made the cut.


On the whole most of the list makes for fairly grim reading. Sackings, vandalism, complaints and injuries make up the majority of the Top Ten. To be honest the only truly positive story is the one regarding Man Utd winning the Premier League grounds team of the year - and that only just sneaked in, taking the 10th position!


It's difficult to be surprised by these findings though. I guess it's kind of obvious that people on the whole are interested in news which veers into the more dramatic or unusual.


There is also scientific research which apparently proves that we're all more predisposed to be fascinated by bad news. The impressively lengthy job titled Stuart Soroka who is (deep breath) the Michael W. Traugott Collegiate Professor of Communication Studies and Political Science, and Faculty Associate in the Center for Political Studies at the Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan (phew!) has written a paper called News, Politics and Negativity which asks why people pay more attention to bad news rather than positive news?


His findings suggest "that negative news content, in comparison with positive news content, tends to increase both arousal and attentiveness." He says that news content is predominantly negative because humans tend to be more attentive to negative information.


Professor Soroka does however question whether this fascination in all things bad, is in fact harmful? He says, "Focusing on negative information may be a perfectly reasonable way of managing a complex news environment."


He goes on to explain that if we don't know about the bad things going on around us, we won’t be armed with enough information to make the requisite changes we need to protect ourselves from such events effecting us in the future.


I like to think there is always plenty of good news stories each week in TurfPro. It is a positive and thriving industry that we cover and the content included does reflect that.


But equally we mustn't shy away from reporting on the events which occur in our sector which are less than ideal. It's both understandable and proven by clever scientists that those will end up the most read of the year.


Who knows what the industry has in store for 2018? What might occur which ends up becoming our most opened stories this time next year? We have BTME coming up in a couple of weeks which always kicks off the year with some interesting developments.

It will of course, as ever be a fascinating and unexpected ride. And just maybe, with my optimistic hat on for a moment, it could be a wholly positive story which claims that coveted number one spot next January!

Top Ten revealed
TurfPro Top Ten most stories of 2017

The Top Ten most read stories during the course of 2017 in this TurfPro Briefing have been revealed.


The Top Ten most read stories during the course of 2017 in this TurfPro Briefing have been revealed.


As you would expect it's the most dramatic, attention grabbing stories which once again gained the most views.


As ever, TurfPro reported on them week in, week out, bringing you all the news relevant to the UK professional turfcare sector - and you can rely on us providing the same service as we see what 2018 has in store for the industry.


Check out TurfPro Weekly Briefing's most read 2017 stories below:










5. RUGBY PLAYERS 'BURNT' BY 3G PITCH (3rd April 2017)








9. CWC SAY TRADE SHOWS 'OBSOLETE' (13th February 2017)


10. MAN UTD WIN PREMIER TITLE (1st May 2017)


Damaged by stock car racing on Jan 1st
Stock car racing at Ballymena Showgrounds

The manager of Irish Premiership team Ballymena United has hit out at the co-users of the Showgrounds where they play.



The manager of Irish Premiership team Ballymena United has hit out at the co-users of the Showgrounds where they play, for damaging the pitch via stock car racing on January 1st.


The BBC reported that David Jeffrey said he was saddened by the incident, which left parts of the playing surface cut up ahead of five home matches in January.



Ballymena Raceway, who share the venue with the football club, declined to comment when BBC Sport contacted them.


The annual Winter National Stock Car Championship meeting was held on New Year's Day at the Showgrounds, which is owned by the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.


"They just didn't show any respect, they've just driven across the pitch, they really don't care," David Jeffrey told the BBC.


"I'm not anti stock car in any way, shape or form.


"The frustrating thing is that we have been trying to work closely and very hard with the council to make sure our pitch is in the best condition it can be.


"The council this year, particularly the groundsmen, have worked very hard to keep and to get the pitch in good order - they have worked their socks off."


The Mid and East Antrim Borough Council told the BBC that it was aware of the matter and that repairs were being carried out.


"Ballymena Showgrounds is a multi-use venue and Council works closely with all users to ensure it remains one of Northern Ireland's premier facilities," a spokesman for the Borough Council was quoted by the BBC.


"Extensive work is planned to be carried out on the pitch at Ballymena Showgrounds at the end of the current football season in order to improve drainage and the quality of the playing surface to ensure it meets European standards."

Honours to be presented at BTME
Wimbledon Park were awards winners in 2017

The BIGGA Welcome Celebration sponsored by Textron Golf, and presented by Naga Munchetty will see the winners announced.


During this month’s BTME exhibition at the BIGGA Welcome Celebration sponsored by Textron Golf, the winners of the BIGGA Awards will be revealed.


Wimbledon Park were awards winners in 2017


Presented by Naga Munchetty and featuring entertainment from stand-up comedian Ian Moore, the awards recognise the year’s outstanding greenkeeping performances from association members.


The finalists of the BIGGA Awards 2018 are:


Championship Greenkeeping Performance of the Year sponsored by Rigby Taylor

  • Adam Matthews and the team at Moor Allerton Golf Club (Leeds) for preparing and maintaining the course during the Clipper Logistics Championship 2017 EuroPro Tour event.
  • Frank Clarkson and the team at Dundonald Links Golf Club for preparing and maintaining the course during both the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open 2017 and the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open 2017.
  • Kenny Mackay and the team at The Wentworth Club for renovating and maintaining the course before and during the BMW PGA Championship 2017.

BIGGA Young Greenkeeper of the Year sponsored by Textron Golf

  • Alistair Morrison, Greenkeeper, Durness Golf Club in Scotland
  • Angus Roberts, Greenkeeper, Roxburghe Hotel and Golf Course in Scotland
  • Carl Sharp, Greenkeeper, Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club in Surrey

BIGGA Greenkeeping Achievement of the Year sponsored by Baroness

  • Andrew Brougham, Head Greenkeeper, Astbury Golf Club
  • Neil McLoughlin, Course Manager, Deeside Golf Club
  • Stuart Imeson, Head Greenkeeper, Dunstanburgh Castle Golf Club

BIGGA Chief Executive Officer Jim Croxton said, “We were delighted to receive so many entries to the BIGGA Awards this year as it highlights that the hard work of our members is being recognised by those around them. When BIGGA members acknowledge the great work of their greenkeeping peers, it reminds me what a special association we are all a part of.


“It was incredibly difficult to choose these nine finalists from among the nominations we received. Each would be worthy winners, and all should be incredibly proud of what they have achieved.


“My thanks go once again to the great sponsors of these awards for their support, and I look forward to seeing you all at the BIGGA Welcome Celebration in Harrogate.”


BTME runs from Tuesday 23 until Thursday 25 January 2018 with the Welcome Celebration taking place on Tuesday 23rd with a welcome reception from 5pm, before the event gets underway at 5.30pm.



Skip the queues
Pre-register for BTME

BIGGA are urging visitors to register ahead of time for BTME 2018 to benefit from quicker access to the Harrogate Convention Centre on 23-25 January.


BIGGA are urging visitors to register ahead of time for BTME 2018 to benefit from quicker access to the Harrogate Convention Centre on 23-25 January.



By combining Continue to Learn, the Turf Managers’ Conference, GolfBIC and partner events, coupled with four halls of exhibitors, the organisers believe BTME 2018 will be a spectacular week of networking, education and access to the latest innovations in the sports turf management industry.


Over 140 exhibitors - from global giants to brand new innovative companies - will be putting on a diverse show, featuring everything from irrigation systems, golf buggies and machinery, through to artificial turf, workwear and wildflowers.


And then on Tuesday evening, TV presenter and #ThisGirlGolfs ambassador Naga Munchetty will host the BIGGA Welcome Celebration, featuring the BIGGA Awards ceremony, with the free-to-attend event offering a night of entertainment, including a performance by comedian Ian Moore.


Kicking things off on Wednesday morning will be The BTME Breakfast Club: Cutting Edge Turf Management. Joining Naga on stage will be Kenny Mackay of The Wentworth Club, Darren Baldwin of Tottenham Hotspur FC, Keith Kent of the RFU and Twickenham and Stuart Kerrison of Essex County Cricket Club.


Jim Croxton, BIGGA CEO, said: "Thousands of delegates will head to Harrogate for BTME 2018, and we want to make sure no one misses out. With hundreds of exhibitors all vying for the attention of BIGGA members, BTME is the premier place to get up-to-date with all the latest developments in the turf management industry.


“You won’t want to miss a moment of the action, and so not only does pre-registering ensure your place at the event, but it also allows you to skip to the front of the line and increase your BTME 2018 experience to the limit.”


Pre-register for visitor badges here


Following Patrick Vives retirement
L-R: Patrick Vives and Les Malin

In his third successive promotion, Les Malin has been appointed as the new managing director of Etesia UK with immediate effect.


In his third successive promotion, Les Malin has been appointed as the new managing director of Etesia UK with immediate effect.


L-R: Patrick Vives and Les Malin


After starting his career in the farming industry at the age of 16, Les moved into the groundscare industry in 1993. He joined Etesia UK from Amazone in 2000 as area manager and was appointed general manager in 2006. He quickly became an influential figure within the company and in 2014 he was promoted to operations director - a move which saw him become the company's first ever UK director.


Following the retirement of Etesia SAS president Patrick Vives In December, the board and shareholders unanimously decided to promote Les to the position of managing director.

“Les is someone that we can absolutely rely on so this promotion allows me to take more time out and enjoy retirement,” said Patrick.


Throughout his tenure at Etesia UK, Les has seen the company grow. What started as an unknown company with just one product, Etesia now boasts an extensive dealer network throughout the UK and has added to its portfolio of products after becoming exclusive distributors of Pellenc battery-powered tools in 2010 and the Oeliatec weed control range in 2017.


Les has been instrumental in helping the UK become Etesia’s third largest market behind its homeland France and Germany - which Etesia say is certainly an achievement considering that the company now has a presence in over 40 countries.


Commenting on his promotion Les said: “It’s an achievement and an honour and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to prove myself.


“My aim is to try and help the business continue to grow and show the shareholders that we can do what we need to do and make it work for them.”

Dr Christian Spring
Dr Christian Spring

Dr Spring will take the lead in coordinating all research and staff management at STRI’s research facility in West Yorkshire.


The STRI Group (Sports Turf Research Institute) has announced the appointment of Dr Christian Spring as its new Research Operations Manager.

Christian, who joined STRI as a soil scientist in 2005, will take the lead in coordinating all research and staff management at STRI’s research facility in West Yorkshire as well as liaising with STRI’s two research facilities in Australia and Qatar.


Since 2014, Christian has managed research in a wide variety of subject areas, including sports surface construction and drainage, turfgrass nutrition, sports turf management, use of wetting agents, surface performance assessment and machinery testing. He also runs STRI’s FACTS and NMP courses and assists with the teaching on BASIS certificates in amenity horticulture.


Christian will be supporting global head of research, Dr Ruth Mann, in working closely with the Aspire Sports Turf operation in Qatar and STRI Group’s Melbourne-based business, SportsTurf Consultants, who recently appointed Sam Myott as their general manager.


Dr Ruth Mann, said: “I am thrilled Christian has been appointed as Operations Manager. He brings a wealth of experience in research trials and I am excited to be working with him as we grow in new territories and markets.”

New turfcare expertise for south west
Daniel Tomberry

Reesink Turfcare’s Scotland service branch in Livingston has expanded with the appointment of a new sales representative, Daniel Tomberry.


Reesink Turfcare’s Scotland service branch in Livingston has expanded with the appointment of a new sales representative, Daniel Tomberry.


Daniel brings over a decade’s experience in sports turf to his sales role at Reesink’s Livingston branch.


Daniel says of his new role: “For years, the idea of having a sales role in the industry has really appealed to me and I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity. This position at Reesink was what I was waiting for.”


Daniel has a broad range of experience in the sports turf industry: “By working my way up from apprentice greenkeeper at a prestigious Scottish golf club to head groundsman at East Dorset Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, I’ve gained a wide range of industry knowledge which I believe will serve me well in this new role.


“This practical knowledge will enable me to relate to customers, understand what they want to achieve, and know which products will best suit their needs.”


Regional manager for Scotland and north England, George MacDonald, explains why he hired Daniel: “Daniel has a great deal of experience in the industry and has worked with Toro machinery for many years. He respects the brand, is professional, articulate and enthusiastic.


“With all of this going for him, I have no doubts that Daniel is going to excel in his new position and be of great help to customers in the south west of Scotland,” George concludes.

Irrigation best practice
Ed Stant, course manager at Trentham Golf Club

Ed Stant, course manager at Trentham Golf Club near Stoke-on-Trent, says that recent changes to his irrigation management are paying dividends.


Implementing moisture level monitoring, updating controllers with the latest software and frequently applying evolving course setup conditions to irrigation programmes, all contribute to responsible and sustainable management of golf courses.


Ed Stant, course manager at Trentham Golf Club near Stoke-on-Trent, says that recent changes to his irrigation management are paying dividends.


Ed Stant


“Two years ago we had a completely new irrigation system installed,” Ed says. “We opted for the intuitive Toro Lynx control system with 170 Infinity series greens, approaches and surrounds sprinklers. Having the right technology greatly aids professional irrigation management, but getting the most out of it is a skill in itself, and for me it all starts with monitoring soil moisture levels. I use a HH2 Moisture Meter probe and its readings depends on what irrigation I apply.”


Knowing the exact conditions of the turf’s health faces will lead to more informed and ecological decisions, as only the water needed to sustain it will be used. Couple this with an intuitive control system which can be accurately tailored to precise conditions and requirements, means users have even more control over water consumption and sward health. This is integral to good irrigation practice as every area of turf can be different.


“Having an intuitive control system is fantastic for precise irrigation and, of course, specific requirements around the course. We had a reasonably wet summer in 2017 but as we all know no course is uniform and for whatever reasons certain areas will need more moisture than others. Being able to apply additional water where it is needed over the last couple of years since we got the new system has resulted in us having great grass coverage across the entire course, even in the walked areas.


“We’ve also recently put a lot of time and effort into killing the coarse rye grass around the greens surrounds and that meant a lot of specific watering of the affected areas. Being able to water-in just the top-dressing or apply water where overseeding and spreading herbicide, has greatly aided the process, allowing us to also be far more water efficient than we could have previously been.”


Adding to the efficient irrigation at Trentham Golf Club is the fact that the club is also sustainable. At the same time as the irrigation system installation a 42m borehole was put in and seeing as the club does not exceed its limit, it means free water for irrigation purposes.


Trentham Golf Club believes this carefully managed control over water usage is more environmentally friendly, plants are healthier, surfaces are more aesthetically pleasing, playability is improved, and they are saving money too.

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