In 2009 the first Golf Study Tour (The McKenzie Tour) was undertaken by the American Society of Golf Course Architects, the European Institute of Golf Course Architects and the Society of Australian Golf Course Architects.
It was held in Australia, with 86 Golf Architects from around the world visiting Sydney and Melbourne. The Architects decided to continue the Study Tour each three years and in 2012 it was in USA then 2015 in the UK.
This year in November the Study Tour was again held in Adelaide over five days and incorporating visits to Kooyonga GC, Adelaide Oval, Grange GC, Seppeltsfield Winery (conference venue), Glenelg GC and Royal Adelaide GC where the final dinner was also held. The tour was named “Cargie Rymill’s Four Reds Golf Architecture Tour” in honour of Herbert Rymill (nicknamed Cargie / the local Golf Architect who influenced much of the original design in Adelaide), the four Golf Courses all which are built on red sand areas with red sand bunkers and finally the Study Tour sponsor Toro (famous for its red machinery).
Accommodation for the tour was at Glenelg Beach which was central to all amenities and golf courses, it also allowed for a casual atmosphere with some stunning sun rises. Overlooking the beach was the Sunday night welcoming function where Architects met new friends and renewed old acquaintances.
On Monday the tour played golf at Kooyonga GC (est. 1923) early morning, the golf course has an abundance of natural timber defining the narrow undulating fairways culminating in well protected greens. In the afternoon / evening the tour visited Adelaide Oval, the home of South Australian Cricket and football where Toro arranged a feast at the “Hill of Grace” restaurant overlooking the ground.
Tuesday saw the tour have another early start heading to The Grange Golf Club (est. 1910) where a more open but equally challenging golf course was laid out over the natural sands. In the afternoon the tour witnessed the Inaugural “World Sand Golf Design Competition” which involved teams of six drawn from each Association creating a golf themed sand sculpture in a 4m x 2m space on the beach in front of the Hotel. Using only materials naturally found on the beach the two hour challenge was hotly contested with all three teams developing a single hole concept, both the SAGCA team and EIGCA with a Par 3 and the ASGCA team opting for a short Par 4. John Gransbury (Director of HydroPlan who were sponsors for the event), Richard Walne (Toro) and Tony Webeck (Australian Golf Digest) were judging the event and after explanations from each team Captain on their concepts the American Society of Golf Course Architect team were crowned champions.
On Wednesday the tour went to Seppeltsfield Winery in the Barossa Valley just north of Adelaide for the major conference on “The Future of Golf” which saw presentations from Golf Architects from the three different Associations as well as a presentation on Cargie Rymill by Australian Golf Architect and historian Neil Crafter.
The ASGCA had presentations by Jeff Blume (President), Andy Staples and Forrest Richardson all of whom had significant statistical insights into issues surrounding the future of golf from the American perspective. The EIGCA had presentations by Christoph Staedler (Vice President), Achim Reinmuth and Matt Schiffler, their presentations highlighted how issues were being dealt with throughout Europe. SAGCA presentations were carried out by Scott Champion, Paul Reeves and Brett Mogg and summarised concerns from all Industry participants whilst looking far into the future to indicate what current “futurists” had predicted.
Late afternoon involved a wine tasting and inspection of the old winery as well as a lot of conversations relating to the topic of the day.
Thursday had the tour at Glenelg Golf Course (est. 1927) which with its smaller area, links style and revetted bunkers was quite a challenge. It should be noted that at all golf courses during the tour the Golf Superintendent from each golf course gave an interesting insight into the golf course, how they were developed and any specific issues they were facing so that Architects may review same when going around the courses.
The last day, Friday saw the tour at Royal Adelaide GC (est. 1906) at which Dr Alister Mackenzie visited in 1926 with accompanying modifications made. Very much a links course it has hosted nine Australian Open tournaments and is a true test of golf, especially that day as the wind was at its strongest of the week. The tour during the week was blessed with blue skies, moderate to warm temperatures and great fellowship so beautiful conditions.
A farewell dinner at the Golf Club was held following golf where Richard Walne and fellow Toro representatives from Australian, USA and Europe presented all Golf Architects with a commemorative antique hickory shafted golf club. The SAGCA team of Aussies finally won back the Mackenzie trophy (best golf of the week) which had spent all of the past 9 years overseas.
To have the opportunity of discussing life, international issues and above all sustainable golf with fellow Golf Architects from around the world over five days is priceless and we all eagerly await the next gathering in three years time.