Two of Asia’s most high-profile course superintendents have given glowing endorsements to the Asian Golf Industry Federation’s Certificate in Greenkeeping (CIG) programme.
Launched last year in partnership with the New Zealand Sports Turf Institute (NZSTI) and with backing from The R&A, the programme is picking up momentum.
Teeing-off proceedings for 2019 was the CIG Malaysia Progression Course which took place at Kuala Lumpur’s Kota Permai Golf & Country Club last week.
A CIG Thailand Introductory Course will be held at Bangkok’s Summit Windmill Golf Course from May 13-17 and Johor Bahru’s Horizon Hills Golf & Country Club will be the venue for a second CIG Malaysia Introductory Course from July 29 to August 2.
Among those in attendance at Kota Permai were Jack Cheong and Mohd Nizam Othman, CGCS, long-standing course superintendents at Royal Selangor Golf Club and TPC Kuala Lumpur respectively. They have been acting as mentors for members of the greenkeeping staff at their clubs.
Cheong, a former President of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of Malaysia, said: “The Certificate in Greenkeeping provides much-needed continuing education for the golf course industry.
“The AGIF has been instrumental in organising this programme with the support of the industry. It’s a good combination of classroom and practical follow up work on the golf course.
“It’s been especially great to see the interaction between my assistants and students from other golf courses as well as the participation and questions I get when they are back from the course.
“The interim assignments are designed to include me to assist and sign off their tasks which has promoted good interaction and communication between us. I highly encourage other golf courses to get involved with this programme. It will definitely improve the most important component in any golf course, which is the staff.”
Nizam added: “Achieving a Certificate in Greenkeeping is now an important goal to be set for superintendents in Asia who wish to pursue their career development. Going through the steps of the process offers a very informative review of all aspects of agronomy and the environment. These are vital for those seeking to become future superintendents and great leaders.
“The growth and development created by the certification process is certain to contribute to improving turf grass maintenance standards and to nurturing the next generation of superintendents in our region.”
The AGIF has used NZSTI’s expertise to develop a programme that is aimed at improving the professional knowledge of greenkeeping staff and providing an educational framework for the golf greenkeeping industry in the region.
The programme focuses on the core knowledge and skills required to operate safely and efficiently as a greenkeeper on a golf course, and in a way that protects the turf, prevents damage to the reputation of the course and improves productivity.
The CIG is a 12-month programme with five modules.
Richard Walne, President of the AGIF, said he was delighted with how the Certificate in Greenkeeping programme is taking shape and described the work books that have been specially created as ‘excellent’.
Walne, who was present at Kota Permai, said: “The second phase of the first intake of the CIG at Kota Permai went really well. All the students were enthusiastic and clearly keen to learn. Based on the feedback from speakers, attendees and their mentors, I’m in no doubt that we’re heading in the right direction.”
Last week’s gathering at Kota Permai was the second leg of the inaugural introductory CIG programme in Asia, which was held at TPC Kuala Lumpur last November. There, attendees covered Module 1 (Supervising Greenkeeping Staff) and Module 2 (Golf Course Ecology and Turf Science).
Sticking to the structure of the programme, following five months of practical workplace education at their respective clubs, the 20 candidates returned for a five-day classroom session during which they covered Modules 3 through 5 of the CIG education which address Sports Turf Surface Management, Sports Turf Rootzone and Soil Water Management and Pest, Weed, Disease and Disorder Identification and Control.
Walne, who is also Toro’s Australia and Asia Pacific Managing Director, said: “The mentoring programme has worked very well. We’ve received numerous comments from superintendents that the CIG has created much discussion and teamwork at their respective clubs. That’s a positive trend.
“From the outset, the objective of the CIG was to be able to offer an accessible, affordable and internationally recognised certification for superintendents. Thanks to the support of The R&A, we are succeeding in those objectives.
Next month will mark the launching of the programme in Thailand.
“The Certificate provides a much-needed education path for turfgrass professionals in Asia, which already exists in North America, the United Kingdom, and Europe, and Australia, and New Zealand.”
As was the case in Malaysia last year, the CIG Thailand Introductory Course will focus on Modules 1 and 2. All sessions will be conducted in Thai and all materials translated into Thai.
Attention will then turn to a second CIG intake in Malaysia although attendees will also include superintendents from Singapore and the nearby Indonesian islands of Batam and Bintan. Eric Lynge, the AGIF’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “For the convenience of all participants, it was decided to stage this event within Johor, making it easily accessible.”
Education Partners in the programme are Jacobsen, Jebsen & Jessen, John Deere, Syngenta and Toro, all Executive Members of the AGIF.
The AGIF is a not-for-profit organisation boasting more than 100 member companies from all areas of the golfing industry.