Over 100 delegates, comprising EIGCA Members, Industry Partners, Consultant Partners, and invited guests gathered in Malmö, Sweden, last month for a whole week of events including the EIGCA annual conference, AGM, seminars, workshops and golf.
The week began with EIGCA members attending a two day introductory session, supported by Rain Bird, to the EIGCA’s ‘Raising the Standard of Sustainable Golf Course Development’ programme. Developed in partnership with the Golf Environment Organization, this three phase programme has been planned by the EIGCA to further educate their members on sustainable development principles. Jonathan Smith of GEO outlined the aims of the programme supported by Keith Duff, the Course Director, and Tom Mackenzie, Chairman of the EIGCA Environment Committee.
This year’s EIGCA Conference was dedicated to the design and management of golf in Nordic countries. A variety of expert speakers looked at the different ways that golf has developed in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland, and discussed the various issues with which designers and managers are faced when creating golf courses in northern Europe.
Speakers included Gunnar Håkansson, General Secretary of the Swedish Golf Federation, and George Kittel, President of the Swedish Society of Golf Historians. Technical presentations investigating the issues of maintaining healthy turf in extremely cold climates were given by Agnar Kvalbein of Bioforsk, the Norwegian Institute for Agricultural & Environmental Research, Jacob Arnkvist, Course Manager at Ljungbygaard Golf Club, and Maria Strandberg, Director of the Scandinavian Turfgrass and Environment Research Foundation.
Special guest speaker was Troed Troedson who delivered a highly enjoyable and thought provoking presentation analysing ways to become a successful business competitor.
Case studies included talks from Stig Persson and Göran Bernhoff on Ljunghusen and Falsterbo Golf Clubs respectively, and Peter Mattson who discussed Tapiola Golf Club in Finland.
EIGCA members and Industry Partners also contributed to an entertaining and informative day of presentations much enjoyed by all those who attended.
During the formal proceedings of the AGM Peter Fjällman was elected as the new EIGCA President while Tom Mackenzie became Vice-President. Peter is the first Scandinavian to hold the position of President and it was appropriate that he should begin his presidential duties in his home country of Sweden. Peter also became the first former student of the EIGCA Education course to become President.
The AGM also saw Augie Piza and Libor Jirasek accepted as new Senior Members of the EIGCA, while Kari Haug and Alan Walker became Associate Members.
The President’s Cup is the EIGCA’s annual golf tournament and is always hotly contested. Traditionally played over 36 holes the event this year was played over two of Sweden’s top links courses. Ljunghusen Golf Club, which staged the first round, was the first golf course to receive a GEO Certified™ ecolabel. Set within a nature reserve the course has a mainly heathland character, despite being located alongside the sea. The golf club manages the site carefully to enhance its biodiversity and is constantly working to improve the sustainability of the whole facility.
The second round was played at Falsterbo Golf Club. Consistently ranked as one of the best golf courses in Europe, and having hosted many top professional and amateur events over the years, Falsterbo certainly showed its credentials as the tougher of the two courses. However, in bright sunshine it also proved a delight to play.
The winner of the President’s Cup was EIGCA Associate Member Rob Hiseman who, after scoring a magnificent 43 points at Ljunghusen, just held on to beat Christian Lundin and Peter Fjällman into second and third place respectively. Toby Ingleton of Golf Course Architecture magazine showed that he knows a thing or two about playing courses as well as writing about them to come home first in the guest and partner category. Matt Osborne and John Deere’s Howard Storey were runners up. The nearest the pin prizes were won by EIGCA Senior Member Christophe Städler and Thomas Beckmann of Rain Bird.
As always the climax of the week was the President’s Dinner in the Gillesal Room of the Arstiderna Restaurant in the magnificent Kockska House in Malmö. It was here that the formal inauguration of the new President took place with outgoing President Rainer Preissmann receiving a standing ovation as he handed over the reins to Peter Fjällman. In his closing speech Rainer commented;
“When I became President my aim was to improve and reinforce the reputation of golf course architects, both within the golf industry and broader society. Believe me these have been the fastest two years of my life and much too short to do everything that was on my agenda!
“But looking back on the last two years I can say we have reached some milestones that we can be more than proud about. Most importantly we have started the first stage of our ‘Raising the Standard of Sustainable Golf Course Development’ programme. This has been made possible by the tremendous support we have received from many of our Industry Partners and The R&A, but most of all we have to thank Tom Mackenzie and the EIGCA staff for their huge effort in making this event happen.”
“Our Industry Partners are a vital part of our organisation and I’d like to thank them all for their continued support. We are always looking at ways to develop closer links and I hope that this week has given everyone an opportunity to develop mutual relationships which will be of value in the future. I would especially like to welcome our new Industry Partners, Blinder International and Greenmakers. Our new Consultant Partnership category is also growing and we are pleased to welcome Matt Johns, Roger Davey and Jim Ferguson as new Consultant Partners.”
“I would like to thank our Executive Officer, Julia Green and Virginia and Sue for the terrific support they provide to our Council and the membership. It is to Julia’s merit that the Institute works as well as it does and it has been a pleasure to work with her and to listen to her advice.”
“Finally I’d like to thank all of you for the confidence and support you have given me over the last two years. I hope you have been happy with my work as President and of my council team as well.”
Peter Fjällman brought the week-long event to a close by paying tribute to Rainer for all that he has done for the EIGCA over the last two years. He commented, “I’d like to thank Rainer for all that he has achieved as President and I am delighted that he has decided to remain on the EIGCA Council. My own objective is to continue the wonderful progress we have made under Rainer’s leadership and to further strengthen the recognition of the EIGCA internationally.”