QUANG NAM, Vietnam (8 Dec. 2010) – Golfers generally associate the concept of quantum advances in technology with equipment like oversized drivers made from space-age materials, sophisticated golf simulators, launch monitors, and so forth. Just as fluid and dynamic, however – and arguably more crucial to the experience of playing golf – are ongoing advances in agronomy. And like the teaching professional who can help take your swing to another level, a savvy course superintendent is integral to the enjoyment of the game. Hence, the recently formed Superintendents Association in Vietnam (SAV).
“Establishing best practices for greenskeeping and turf management in a relatively new golf environment is a formidable task,” notes Lucas Skelton, superintendent at Montgomerie Links Vietnam in Danang, named the country’s best course this fall by a vote of Asian Golf Monthly readers. “Sharing information provides an immense advantage, both to expat superintendents grappling with issues specific to the region and to their Vietnamese counterparts, for whom standardized education in golf course agronomy is previously unfamiliar territory.”
Initiated by Skelton and Australian compatriot Rob Weiks, the superintendent at Chi Linh Star, near Hanoi, SAV immediately drew enthusiastic support not only from superintendents far and wide, but also from turf suppliers, irrigation equipment manufacturers, and others with a stake in Vietnam’s burgeoning golf industry.
A number of these entities – including Toro, RainBird, Jebsen and Jebsen, Witgang and Sports Turf Solutions – provide sponsorship for the association, as do the golf clubs hosting SAV’s periodic two-day seminars, the first of which took place at Montgomerie Links, in the country’s Central Coast region. Subsequent installments will be rotated among host clubs in the north and south, as well, in recognition of Vietnam’s vast topographical and climatic diversity.
Seminar topics include improvements in turfgrass varieties available, safe application of fertilizers and pesticides, new products and equipment maintenance. Qualified superintendents will share teaching responsibilities with on-site demonstrations geared to the real-life, on-the-ground situations confronting superintendents on a daily basis.
SAV has also formed a partnership with Chisholm TAFE Institute, in Melbourne, to offer online training to Vietnamese golf course managers and superintendents. The curriculum will culminate in full certification – Level 11 Turf Management, as it’s known in the trade – that will exponentially boost course-management capabilities among native Vietnamese superintendents.
“Starting with a virtually clean slate in Vietnam, agronomically speaking, has its intimidating elements,” says Skelton, “but we’re also unencumbered by entrenched, regressive practices, which is great. SAV will offer technical assistance, but also moral support. In that respect, it’s the perfect example of – sorry, I can’t resist – a grassroots effort.”
SAV’s next meeting will take place in January 2011, at a location to be announced.