I’ve made my way back to Minneapolis after a wonderful two weeks in Australia. My time spent at Royal Melbourne Golf Club volunteering was incredible and educational. Richard Forsyth, Craig Anthony and the rest of the staff were so accommodating to the volunteers and really appreciated our time there. A special thank you to Sonia Robertson, Links Administration, who coordinated all the volunteer information, schedules and uniforms! We always felt welcomed. Thank you for the hospitality!
During my time in Australia I met many greenkeepers from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the USA. As I mentioned in a previous post four other Americans (in addition to Paul Van Buren) came to volunteer: Mike Stell, Parker Henry, Kyle Hegland, and Andrew McDaniel. By having a rotation on the jobs I was able to get around the course working and networking with more than just one person. I worked with volunteers such as Duncan Begley, a past employee of RMGC who is now a Superintendent at Horizons Golf Resort just north of Sydney, and we chatter about his time at RMGC and how he had to come back for the tournament. Also I worked with Jeremy Clarke, an assistant at Peninsula Kingswood Country Golf Club that just finished a massive renovation project to the two courses. We chatted while he mowed the greens, since they are electric mowers, about a trip he took with other Australian greenkeepers to the USA. I love hearing about the work and trips fellow turf people do. This industry is truly “a global brotherhood,” as Richard said one morning.
This industry is truly “a global brotherhood,” as Richard said one morning.
Others I met included Sam Keets, who came on The Ohio Program to intern at Merion for two seasons including the US Open and is currently at Tara Iti in NZ. Tara Iti sent two more volunteers as well, part of a six-person group from NZ. Then there were the twins Luke and Mitchell Driver, who have been around the world working at some of the top courses such as The Old Course, St Andrews, and Wentworth Golf Club in Surrey, and now work at Royal Sydney and New South Wales. Each of them has quite the resumes but just love talking turf and golf you could spend all day just chatting.
The staff had great camaraderie and loved to work on the course. One thing I remember from my time in NZ was that courses seem to have a lot of qualified turf workers or apprentices working there. RMGC had no shortage of turf people. Starting with Richard and the course superintendents: Craig, Paul Thomas, and Nic Staff, there were close to a dozen and a half employees who went or are going to school for turf, including a few past trainees from The Ohio Program. What a wealth of knowledge to use!
Just being at Royal Melbourne for The Presidents Cup would have been great, but actually working on the famed grounds was so special and I cherished my time here. I love volunteering for golf tournaments and this was an exceptional one. Richard and Craig were so open to questions about the maintenance program and answered all of the questions I had. From the unique style course to the thought out maintenance program and to the work/life balance used during the tournament I learned more than at any conference I have been at. I hope others can see how a world-class tournament can be achieved while keeping employees and volunteers fresh and ready to go.
On the final morning as we sat in the break room Richard talked about how the global audience loved the course and that it looked beautiful on TV and that was a testament to the hard work everyone put in. Then he offered the book The Royal Melbourne Golf Club: History of Courses as a parting gift to all volunteers and a party back in the shop after the closing ceremonies. We had our photos taken as a group on the 9th green and with the winning American team. After saying my goodbyes to new friends and colleagues I headed back to the AirBnB with satisfaction in my time at Royal Melbourne. The final day was one to remember.