At Thompson Golf Management, we have adopted drone technology to enhance our approach to golf course evaluations, reporting, design, and renovation planning. This technology provides new insights and efficiencies that were previously unattainable.



Advanced mapping software paired with drone technology can transform golf course management. The process involves meticulous flight planning, specifying the area, direction, altitude, and speed, all while ensuring compliance with local regulations. The software calculates the required number of images and the flight duration. After a safety check, the drone flies in a precise zigzag pattern, capturing overlapping photos with geo-location data. Once the mission is complete, the drone autonomously returns to its starting point (see Figures 1).

Surface area data measurements to verify as-biults or map area changes over time

The collected data is then transferred from the drone’s SD card to a computer. Our software processes this data to create high-resolution, accurate maps and 3D models of the golf course.



The mapping software provides multiple viewing modes, including 2D, 3D, plant health, and elevation. It also includes tools for measuring distance, area, and volume. For example, accurate surface area measurements, essential for precise fertilizer or chemical applications, are easily obtained by tracing the area on the digital map.


Regular drone flights provide dynamic visual data, illustrating changes over time such as turf health, landscape modifications, or construction progress. This ongoing data collection facilitates proactive management and timely interventions, ensuring optimal course conditions (see Figure 2, 3 & 4).

Initial process of mapping and identifying poor performing turf areas on fairways

The same fairway area 3 months after an intensive agronomic program

Historical database for comparative purposes over time


Drone technology has significantly improved golf course design. Previously, hiring a survey company was time-consuming and costly. Now, our drones quickly map the area, and the resultant data integrates seamlessly into design programs like AutoCAD. This integration enhances the sophistication and planning accuracy of projects (see Figure 5).

For instance, designing an irrigation layout is significantly streamlined. High-resolution Geotiff images from our mapping software are imported into AutoCAD, allowing designers to overlay and refine the irrigation plan with precision and efficiency (see Figure 6).


The future of drone technology in golf course management is very promising. Integrating artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can amplify data analysis capabilities, providing predictive insights and automated recommendations. By combining drone data with weather forecasts and historical maintenance records, we can optimize scheduling for irrigation, mowing, and other maintenance tasks, ensuring the golf course remains in impeccable condition throughout the year.


In the lead-up to the Macau Open 2024, Macau Golf & Country Club faced severe challenges due to anomalous weather conditions. The club experienced massive outbreaks of take-all root rot and armyworms, exacerbated by prolonged wet conditions, resulting in significant grass loss. The situation seemed dire, with the course overly wet for months, limiting access and compounding the damage.


Faced with this crisis, the club engaged Thompson Golf Management’s drone services to provide a solution. Our drones mapped the entire course, offering a comprehensive aerial perspective that traditional methods couldn’t achieve. This mapping allowed us to verify area take-offs and plan precise pesticide applications.


The drone data identified the worst-affected areas with pinpoint accuracy. This information was crucial for creating a structured and ordered repair procedure. Using high-resolution images, we could see the exact extent of damage and prioritize areas based on severity.


We developed a clear, numbered progression plan for repairs. This plan included:

  1. Mapping the Damage: High-resolution drone footage identified all damaged areas.
  2. Prioritizing Repairs: Areas were numbered based on the severity of the damage and accessibility.
  3. Prioritizing Repairs: Areas were numbered based on the severity of the damage and accessibility.
  4. Executing Repairs: A step-by-step, ordered repair procedure was implemented, ensuring that the most critical areas were addressed first. 


Based on the drone footage, we employed advanced management techniques, including:

  • Turf Health Monitoring: Regular drone flights provided up-to-date information on turf recovery and health.
  • Water Management: Identified waterlogged areas for targeted drainage improvements.
  • Pest Control: Ongoing monitoring to assess the effectiveness of pesticide applications and adjust strategies as needed.

The use of drone technology not only identified the critical issues but also facilitated a systematic and effective recovery plan, ensuring the course was back to its best in time for the Macau Open.


By leveraging advanced drone technology, Thompson Golf Management is pioneering a new era in golf course management. Our commitment to utilizing precision, efficiency, and innovation guarantees an enhanced golfing experience, setting a new benchmark in the industry.



The Hero Indian Open, India’s National Open and flagship golf tournament, made a triumphant return in March, setting a new standard with a record prize purse of USD 2.25 million and several first-time incentives. Held from March 28-31, 2024, at the prestigious DLF Golf & Country Club, the event drew a high-powered field of star players, including leading local names and notable international golfers.

This year’s edition of the Hero Indian Open became a significant part of the Asian Swing of the DP World Tour, enhancing the prestige and competitive allure of the tournament. With 144 players vying for the title, the competition was fierce, culminating in a thrilling finish that saw the winner, Keita Nakajima, clinch the trophy and a fantastic reward of USD 382,500.

The tournament was marked by the seamless integration into the DP World Tour, offering added benefits for the Swing Champion. This association not only elevated the tournament’s status but also brought it into the global spotlight, attracting a diverse array of talent from across the golfing world.

Hero MotoCorp, the Title Sponsor since 2005, celebrated two decades of a fruitful relationship with India’s apex golfing body, the Indian Golf Union (IGU). Additionally, this year marked the 10th year of the tournament’s partnership with the DP World Tour, showcasing the event’s evolution into one of the most anticipated stops on one of the biggest global golfing tours.

A noteworthy aspect of the tournament’s success was the exemplary condition of the course, thanks to the expert management by the agronomy team led by Superintendent Shaun Sattery. Their efforts ensured the course was both a challenge to the players and a testament to the beauty of the game, highlighting the importance of golf course management in hosting such a prestigious event.

As the dust settles on this year’s Hero Indian Open, Keita Nakajima’s victory will be remembered as a highlight of the tournament, showcasing the skill and determination required to conquer one of the most challenging courses on the DP World Tour. The event not only celebrated the sport of golf but also underscored the growing prominence of the Hero Indian Open on the international stage, thanks to the enduring support of Hero MotoCorp and the strategic partnership with the DP World Tour.


Guy Kinnings officially begins his new role as the European Tour Group’s Chief Executive Officer today, Tuesday April 2, 2024.

Kinnings, who succeeds Keith Pelley, has been the European Tour Group’s Deputy CEO, Chief Commercial Officer and Executive Director – Ryder Cup since 2018, and now becomes only the fifth person in the CEO position since the Tour was established in 1972.

He said: “Today is a very proud day for me and my family. It is a real privilege to become the Chief Executive of the European Tour Group and it is a responsibility I do not take lightly.

“Our Tour has such a wonderful history, and I am delighted to have this opportunity to help shape the next exciting phase in its evolution.

“I have been working closely with our players, our Board, our partners and our staff over the past six years and I feel we have a great opportunity to look forward and to focus on unity and alignment in the game. There has been a shift in our sport to a more global mindset and that is something, as golf’s global Tour, that we welcome.

“We have a widely recognised international footprint, stemming from 50 years of building relationships and staging tournaments in many different countries and continents and this allows us to appeal to golf fans from a wide variety of different backgrounds and demographics. We very much look forward to continuing that.”

Eric Nicoli, Chairman of the European Tour Group, said: “This is a hugely significant day for the European Tour Group as a whole and on behalf of the entire Board, I am delighted to welcome Guy to the role of CEO.


“He is vastly experienced, is hugely respected throughout the golf industry and has strong relationships right across our sport. Our deliberate and purposeful succession planning will ensure a seamless transition in our leadership at this pivotal time in the evolution of the men’s professional game.

“We are looking forward to working closely with Guy to take advantage of the opportunities that await us, and to take our Tour to even greater heights on behalf of the entirety of our membership.”

Kinnings has been an influential figure in golf for more than three decades. A law graduate from University of Oxford, he left Freshfields law firm to join IMG’s legal team in London in 1989 and moved to its golf division in 1991 where he worked with some of the world’s leading players in the professional game.

He went on to become IMG’s Senior International Vice President and Global Head of Golf, leading the company’s worldwide golf business comprising both clients and events, as well as managing its key relationships with all governing bodies and brands involved with the sport.

He joined the European Tour Group prior to the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in France and as Executive Director – Ryder Cup, he has overseen the growth of the biennial contest’s Worldwide Partner programme.

Kinnings also had overall responsibility for the 2023 Ryder Cup in Rome – the most successful edition to be staged in Europe – as Luke Donald’s European Team defeated the United States 16½-11½ at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club. 

As Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Commercial Officer, he also oversaw the growth of the Tour’s commercial operation.

Alongside the Board and the Executive Leadership Team, he helped to secure the Strategic Alliance with the PGA TOUR in 2020 which has helped grow the DP World Tour prize funds to record levels. He was also central to the ground-breaking agreement for DP World to become the title partner of the main Tour at the start of the 2022 season.

Kinnings becomes the fifth Chief Executive of the European Tour Group, following John Jacobs (1972-1975), Ken Schofield (1975 – 2004), George O’Grady (2005-2015) and Keith Pelley (2015-2024).



2023 marked a groundbreaking year for Thompson Golf Management (TGM), as our innovative and strategic approach in China has garnered widespread acclaim and numerous accolades. At the forefront of this success is our commitment to elevating the playing conditions and standards through regimented golf club management, blending scientific insight with practical expertise to redefine the golfing landscape in China.

Sheshan International Golf Club: China’s Premier Golfing Destination
Sheshan International Golf Club, under the guidance of TGM, has firmly established itself as China’s top golfing destination. Our role extends beyond agronomic advisory; we continue to be instrumental in steering the prestigious WGC HSBC Champions tournament preparations. Sheshan is the epitome of excellence in the Chinese golf arena, consistently showcasing outstanding course conditions and setting the benchmark for quality, consistency, and tour-level standards.

Roger Foo, the GM at Sheshan collecting multiple accolades at the 2023 national awards ceremony.

Westlake Golf Club: A Rising Star in the Golfing Firmament
The transformation of Westlake Golf Club, a Nicklaus-designed course, is a testament to the visionary leadership of its owners and TGM’s strategic management. Our primary focus has been on staff training, preparing them for tour-level presentation, and applying repeatable systems. We’ve also implemented advanced agronomic and administrative procedures to deliver exceptionally consistent conditions year-round. These efforts have propelled Westlake Golf Club into the national spotlight, now recognized as a top 10 club in China.

The Westlake ownership, Nicklaus Design, and TGM on site discussing course design and tournament strategy.

Dongzhuang Golf Club: A Model of Excellence and Innovation
Dongzhuang Beach Golf Club’s engagement with TGM has resulted in a remarkable elevation in course conditioning. We have meticulously identified and enhanced the unique design features of their Parkland and Links courses. Our collaboration extends to optimizing staff efficiency and equipment usage, as well as implementing a landscape improvement plan that has not only beautified the course but also reduced labor inputs by 25%. Our winter overseeding program has been particularly successful, contributing to Dongzhuang’s recognition as another top 10 club in China.

The Parkland course exhibiting excellent winter overseeded conditions.

The DZGC team and TGM posing for a group picture during a recent site visit.


The year 2023 stands as a monumental testament to TGM’s vision, relationships, and customized systems, which have significantly contributed to our success in golf club management in China. We remain dedicated to maintaining and elevating the standards of golf clubs nationwide, ensuring that each course under our management not only meets but exceeds the expectations of the global golfing community.



As the year draws to a close, it is that crucial time when thoughts turn to budget submissions for the upcoming year. This is a pivotal moment in every managers career as it sets the tone of success for the entire year, from presenting to owners, boards of directors, and committees to shaping the philosophy guiding spending. In this era of technological advancement, it is prudent to explore intelligent ways to incorporate tech, making our jobs more efficient, enhancing data presentation, and refining our approach to spending. Armed with data, we can make informed decisions that drive success in golf course management.

Advancement 1: Data-Driven Course Assessment and Reporting

Initiate the budgeting process with a data-driven course assessment. Utilize GIS mapping and drone technology to gather precise information on the course’s condition (over an extended period and different climatic conditions). Implement the most appropriate reporting software that translates this data into actionable insights. This integrated approach not only provides real-time visibility but also assists in making informed decisions about resource allocation, setting the stage for precise budgeting.

Advancement 2: Sustainable Practices through Tech Integration

Boost sustainability efforts with advanced technology. Integrate weather forecasting software to optimize irrigation schedules and reduce water consumption, making central computer programming increasingly more accurate (and targeted). Implement RFID tags on equipment (and inventory) for accurate monitoring and to analyse equipment routings around the golf course. Leverage satellite imagery to assess turf health (google Earths sun path is a great tool), allowing for targeted and eco-friendly pest control. This tech-driven sustainability approach benefits the environment and enhances long-term cost-effectiveness.

Advancement 3: Precision Management with Technology

Embrace precision management through state-of-the-art technology integration. Implement monitoring systems that offer real-time data on soil health, facilitating tailored fertilization strategies. Equip golf course machinery with intelligent sensors for fuel usage tracking through GPS technology. Cloud-based software compiles this data into insightful reports, enabling agile decision-making and optimizing resource allocation. This precision-driven approach enhances operational efficiency and directly influences budget optimization.

Advancement 4: Vendor Relationship Optimization through Tech

Optimize vendor relationships by harnessing technology. Implement software that centralizes procurement processes and provides a unified platform for negotiations and bulk purchasing. Utilize AI algorithms to analyze historical data, forecast inventory needs, and prevent overstocking or shortages. This streamlined procurement process maximizes cost savings, directly impacting the efficiency of the agronomy department and contributing to budget precision.

Advancement 5: Continuous Training and Development with Tech Integration

Invest in staff training and development with a tech-forward approach. Utilize e-learning platforms with interactive training modules. Implement virtual reality simulations to enhance problem-solving skills. Cloud-based performance tracking ensures continuous improvement. By integrating technology into training, the agronomy team can evolve over time into a highly skilled and adaptable workforce, aligning with a commitment to continuous excellence and contributing to long-term efficiency and budget optimization.


As we approach the budgeting season, adopting these smart solutions and integrating technology into our processes positions the golf course agronomy department for success. Informed decisions, efficiency gains, and a commitment to sustainability are the pillars upon which the upcoming year’s budget can be built.



After the successful hosting of the SEA Games at the Garden City Golf Club in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where talented golfers from Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia clinched victory, we set our sights on a grander stage. TGM was privileged to be a central part of the 19th Asian Games held at the iconic Westlake Golf Club in Hangzhou, China.


On September 23, 2023, President Xi Jinping inaugurated the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, drawing athletes from 45 countries and territories and featuring a wide array of sports, including golf. The ceremony was a spectacular affair that not only captivated the nation but also aimed to uplift the spirits of the entire country. With an 80,000-seat stadium filled with enthusiastic spectators, the atmosphere was electric as President Xi took center stage alongside esteemed dignitaries, including International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach. This event showcased the magnitude of the Asian Games, a gathering that outstrips the Olympics in terms of participation and diversity of sports.

The 2023 Asian Games provided a unique opportunity for sports enthusiasts to witness events rarely seen at the Summer Olympics. From thrilling dragon boat races to the mesmerizing sepaktakraw (kick volleyball) and the artistry of wushu, a traditional Chinese martial art – the Games had it all. And, of course, golf enthusiasts had their share of excitement as well.


Westlake Golf Club, designed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus, was chosen as the venue for the golf competitions at the 2023 Asian Games. The course, which opened its doors to golf enthusiasts in 1993, had established itself as a premier destination for avid golfers across Asia. However, by 2021, it was evident that the course needed rejuvenation to meet the evolving standards of championship golf.

TGM was entrusted with the task of revitalizing Westlake Golf Club for this prestigious event. The transformation began with a meticulous redesign phase led by the Nicklaus team. TGM’s key elements included creating root zone engineering, specifying grass varieties (including Pure Distinction on the greens – a first in China), and introducing a state-of-the-art fleet of Toro equipment. These enhancements aimed to ensure that the course met the highest standards for the Asian Games. In addition to the physical upgrades, TGM also provided long-range agronomic planning to maintain the course’s impeccable condition throughout the year.


The course renovation was not merely cosmetic. Westlake Golf Club underwent significant changes to adapt to the demands of modern golf. Key improvements included:

• Clearing vegetation to restore lost design features and vistas.
• Rebuilding tee boxes and expanding sizes and orientation to accommodate the modern golfer.
• Reconstructing greens to meet USGA standards.
• Freshening and repositioning bunkers.
• Extending the course by nearly 300 yards to challenge the longer hitters.
• Combining and expanding tees for member play, providing more options while ensuring ease of maintenance.

Apart from the championship course, Westlake GC also upgraded many of its amenities, including the clubhouse, a lighted range, three short-game areas, a simulator, a gym, and a banquet hall.


The week of the Asian Games was a testament to the incredible transformation of Westlake Golf Club and the dedication of the TGM team. As the world’s top golfers competed on this iconic course, spectators witnessed thrilling moments and unforgettable performances.

As we look forward to future golfing events and continue our commitment to excellence, TGM remains dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of golf courses worldwide, ensuring they meet the highest standards of quality and performance.

Follow us for more updates on our endeavors in the world of golf management and our commitment to creating exceptional golfing experiences.




I am excited to announce that Thompson Golf Management, our esteemed agronomic consulting firm, has expanded our portfolio with the inclusion of Dongzhuang Beach Golf Club. This partnership marks a significant step forward in our mission to elevate golf course conditions and redefine player experiences on a global scale.

Nestled against the stunning backdrop of Dongzhuang Beach, the club boasts a remarkable 36-hole championship facility that is renowned for both its challenging courses and breathtaking coastal views. Our collaboration with Dongzhuang Beach Golf Club underscores our commitment to raising the standards of excellence in golf course maintenance and management within the region.

At the heart of this partnership lies our dedication to improving the golf course’s overall condition. We will leverage our expertise to provide comprehensive staff training, implement advanced fungicide programming, conduct precise laboratory testing, optimize equipment utilization, and introduce environmentally conscious overseeding practices. By prioritizing sustainability and innovation, our goal is to create a playing environment that perfectly complements the natural beauty of the coastal landscape. 


Dongzhuang Beach Golf Club serves as a captivating testament to the allure of coastal golf. Boasting two 18-hole championship courses, each thoughtfully designed to challenge golfers of all skill levels, the club seamlessly blends the excitement of the game with the tranquility of the ocean. Its reputation as a premier golf destination is further enhanced by our partnership with JMP Golf Course Design, an esteemed name in golf course architecture.

This collaboration has resulted in courses that seamlessly integrate with the surrounding environment, enhancing the overall golfing experience. Our partnership with Dongzhuang Beach Golf Club reflects the fusion of our expertise and shared passion for creating exceptional golf experiences while preserving the beauty of nature.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Cameron Thompson. Founder.
+66 84 369 0328




Summer 2023 brings heightened concerns for turfgrass health in the northern Beijing region, as the prevalence of Summer Patch disease, caused by the pathogen magnaporthe poae, continues to rise. This article delves into the working mechanisms of this pathogen and its implications in plant pathology. Additionally, we explore effective management strategies and highlight some of the latest fungicides recommended by the Thompson Golf Management (TGM).


Magnaporthe poae, a fungus, plays a central role in causing Summer Patch disease. It survives unfavorable conditions through mycelium in infected plant tissue or debris. Optimal growth occurs at 28°C, and infection takes place during late spring when soil temperatures reach 19-20°C. The fungus spreads between turfgrass roots, with symptoms often remaining dormant until triggered by a significant temperature increase during wet weather. Furthermore, this pathogen can be transmitted through the movement of infected plant material and mechanical equipment, exacerbating its prevalence and impact.


Summer Patch disease caused by M. poae affects turfgrass, including Kentucky bluegrass (poa pratensis), annual bluegrass (poa annua), and fescues (festuca sp.), common in the northern Beijing region. The disease leads to a root and/or crown rot, resulting in scattered small patches of thin, wilted, or slow-growing turf. The affected areas vary in size, ranging from 3-8 cm initially but potentially expanding to 30 cm in diameter. Patches exhibit colors from gray-green to light tan or straw-colored and may coalesce to form crescents of yellow or tan turf. Microscopic examination is often necessary to distinguish Summer Patch from other diseases like Necrotic Ring Spot, which may display similar symptoms. Additionally, infected plant tissue presents dark brown roots, crowns, and stolons as the dark mycelium invades the tissue, ultimately leading to the rotting of the cortex and plant mortality.

Effective management of Summer Patch disease is critical to maintaining the health and aesthetics of turfgrass in the Beijing region. Addressing primary stresses, including excess thatch, fertilizer, and turf canopy temperature, as well as improper timing of fertilizer applications, low mowing height, and pH extremes, is essential.

To mitigate disease severity, focus on cultural practices such as maintaining soil and rhizosphere pH levels between 5.5 and 6.0 and using acidifying fertilizers when pH exceeds 6.0. Proper fertilization practices, applying two to five lbs of nitrogen per 1000 sq. ft., should be followed. Avoid fertilizer application during the stress period (June to August) and only fertilize in autumn and late spring.

In the dry summer periods, ensure deep & infrequent watering to promote proper root growth. Consider using soaker hoses for supplementary watering on steeper slopes to enhance efficiency and infiltration rates. Lightly syringe the surface during mid-day to reduce harmful temperature effects.

Maintain an appropriate cutting height and mow frequently enough to remove less than 1/3 of the leaf blade during each mowing session. Manage thatch, ensuring it does not exceed 1.5 cm in thickness through practices like verti cutting, aeration, and topdressing during spring and early fall.


For Beijing’s turfgrass management, TGM recommends the following latest fungicides to combat Summer Patch disease effectively:
• Fungicide A: Ascernity, benzovindiflupyr + difenoconazole
• Fungicide B: Honor Intrinsic, boscalid + pyraclostrobin
• Fungicide C: Posterity, azoxystrobin + propiconazole + pydiflumetofen

Thoroughly water the areas with a history of this disease several days before applying the fungicide. Monitor soil temperature to a depth of 2 inches and make the first application when the soil temperature reaches 55°F or about 13°C. Additional applications may be necessary, depending on soil temperature and disease severity. Always adhere to the rates and procedures recommended on the fungicide package label.

The emergence of Summer Patch disease caused by Magnaporthe poae presents a significant challenge to turfgrass health in the Beijing region during Summer 2023. Understanding the pathogen’s working mechanisms and its impact on plant pathology is crucial for effective management. Employing appropriate cultural practices and employing the latest recommended fungicides by TGM will ensure the resilience of your turfgrass playing surfaces, mitigating the adverse effects of this devasting disease.




When seeking consultancy or agronomic advice for your golf course from TGM mentors or other professionals, it is essential to gauge the outcomes in terms of quantifiable facts, particularly how it contributes to increased profits for your golf club.

The golf course industry now witnesses the involvement of numerous independent consultants and larger professional bodies offering agronomic advice to clubs and courses. While the intention to “improve standards,” “enhance green speed,” and “maintain course quality” is commendable, these goals might lack clarity and measurability.

With four decades of involvement in golf course management and two decades as an in-house consultant responsible for the supervision of numerous golf courses, a novel approach to harnessing agronomic or golf course consultants comes to the forefront. Taking inspiration from diverse sectors, a recollection emerges of a seasoned professional enlisted in our organization in the past, as part of a governmental endeavor. Serving as a financial expert, this individual emphatically emphasized the need for his contributions to be financially self-sustaining. The yardstick of his triumph lay in heightened sales, augmented profits, and diminished expenses, all achieved through enhanced operational methodologies—tangible and quantifiable achievements rooted in definite figures.

However, the golf course industry seems to muddy the waters when it comes to viewing consultancy services as an added cost rather than a strategic investment. Many clubs overlook the additional expenses incurred from implementing recommended products, machinery, or practices, and subsequently fail to objectively measure the actual improvement or results attained, as desired by both the golfers and the club management. I firmly believe that if something cannot be measured, it cannot be effectively managed—a valuable lesson from my time managing over 20 courses concurrently in a commercial setting.

For a consultant to prove their worth to a golf course, they must have a clear understanding of the club’s business model, pricing structure, and customer expectations. Using golf course condition and turf quality as tools, the consultant should drive increased rounds, higher membership rates, and repeat business—tangible financial gains within the market.

On the other hand, the consultant’s role should also encompass cost reduction measures, strict control over product purchasing to maintain desired course quality, adherence to best practices for labor and machinery usage, and most importantly, a clear, meaningful, and objective course condition monitoring system. This system should be easy to record, scored with numerical values, contain crucial data, and be easily understood by staff, management, and members. It should provide a mechanism to identify short-term goals, work schedule adjustments, accountability, and completion deadlines.

Conducting an audit to evaluate the quality and success of the advice received by a club can be highly valuable. This includes assessing the cost of the service, whether the advice led to increased expenses in fertilizers, chemicals, machinery, and labor, and whether roundage, membership, and income grew since implementing the service. Additionally, surveying golfers’ satisfaction and implementing an internal auditing system to monitor course condition and playability can provide valuable insights.

It is essential to be cautious of relying solely on consultant reports that may lack clarity or independence. Some reports are too brief to be meaningful, while others are overloaded with data and charts that do not lead to actionable outcomes. It is prudent to ensure that agronomic advice comes from qualified and unbiased sources, especially when dealing with changes in pesticide use, where legal compliance, independent testing, and BASIS or FACTS qualifications are vital considerations.

Managing golf clubs and courses in the 21st century is undoubtedly challenging and competitive. Adopting a pragmatic approach that ties course condition and profitability to golfer and member satisfaction, as well as financial success, can be beneficial. To ensure accountability, every head of department should review and monitor the performance of advisors and consultants engaged by the club or course. Taking a broad and specific view when making decisions about external services is essential for achieving success in this dynamic industry.



The Furrows, a new short course by OCM Golf, the design firm that comprises Geoff Ogilvy, Mike Cocking and Ashley Mead, has opened for play at Kingston Heath Golf Club near Melbourne, Australia. The nine-hole par-three layout was built on a 20-acre parcel next to the club’s eighteen-hole course. “Since the mid-1990s, the club has had the foresight of purchasing land surrounding the course, as a means of protecting the boundaries,” said Cocking.

“This included land along the eastern side of the course and alongside the twelfth hole which is known as the ‘Madden Land’. Used as a market garden for the best part of the last century, the club have looked at a variety of uses for this land, starting around 20 years ago when a nineteenth hole was first built.”

The opportunity to make use of this land, purchased in 1986, has long been on the mind of Kingston Heath’s club captain, Matthew McKenna, who wondered how the market garden space could host something more interesting than water storage or a turf nursery. That something different turned out to be a nine-hole par-three layout. “It didn’t take much prodding to get us excited about the idea of a short course, and we talked through a number of different concepts,” said Cocking.

“An early idea looked to incorporate the first, sixth and nineteenth holes so the course would start and return at the clubhouse but this became awkward jumping in and out of a full field, so it was quickly dismissed. Another design had fewer holes but included an option to play a short four, and yet another embraced the freeform option.

“However, these weren’t that practical on a small piece of land, especially if a number of groups want to use the course at once, so we gravitated towards the idea of a formal loop of par-three holes. Despite not trying to stick to a nine-hole layout, the dimensions of the Madden Land made it hard to create anything but nine.

“At 600 metres in length, it would be long enough for roughly four holes out and four holes in, and the widest section to the south would also allow for a hole to play across the property, to make nine holes in total. We did however want to avoid the feeling of just playing four holes down the same corridor out and back. Therefore, with the routing we were conscious to move the holes around as much as possible. We also wanted to maximise the more attractive backdrops and limit those against the eastern boundary where a few houses were visible. And just like the Old course at St Andrews, which is also built on a thin strip of ground, bringing the holes together with shared fairways and even a couple of double greens would help maximise the limited space.”

After deciding on the nine-hole concept, OCM began working with the club on the design of the individual holes. The main course provided inspiration, in particularly the approach to the par-four third and the par-three tenth hole. “Beyond ‘the heath’, there were other great short holes we were keen to use as inspiration, certainly locally around the sandbelt, such as the third and fourth at the nearby Woodlands, the third on the West course at Royal Melbourne, and further afield, the second, twelfth and eighteenth at St Andrews,” said Cocking. “These holes are some of the most enjoyable and thought provoking in the game, so we figured with nine of them why couldn’t a short course like this hold the same interest as something a little longer?”

Construction of The Furrows began in late 2021 with the last green seeded 10 months later, delayed slightly by one of the wettest winters the area had ever experienced. “Aside from the weather, one of the challenges during construction was managing a very inconsistent sand profile,” said Cocking. “In some places, the sand went down a metre but then in other areas there was just a few centimetres before we hit clay. Despite what many think of the sandbelt, there are not just metres and metres of beautiful grey sand below the surface.

“We wanted to add some character to the land and introduce the same sorts of hollows and mounds one finds on the big course, but to do so meant we had to strip off all the available sand and then shape the clay, only to bring the sand back to cap the ground.”

Greens have been seeded with Pure Distinction bentgrass, supplied by Atlas Turf International. The course also features native grasses and 50,000 indigenous heathland plants and shrubs, which have been planted so The Furrows has a similar look to Kingston Heath’s main course.

A key aim of the project for the club and OCM has been to create a new asset for the membership.

“We wanted to create a unique facility for members – outside of the formal practice facility or the main course – a layout that could be played in an hour or two, and allow golfers to hone their skills from under 120 metres,” said Cocking. “It also helps create a pathway for new golfers to learn and get interested in the game, and short courses such as this help prolong the golfing life for older golfers, who may find the main course a little too long or too difficult.”