Winning the Toro – St Andrew’s Links Assistant Superintendents internship was a very rewarding experience for Jacob Burridge from Victoria Golf Club in Cheltenham (Vic) and Adam Fry, from Kooyonga Golf Club in Lockleys (SA).
The two Assistant Superintendents travelled to Scotland in late July and spent two weeks working at all seven St. Andrew’s Links courses.
“We had recently finished a major redevelopment at Victoria Golf Club, so winning this internship felt like recognition for my hard work during that redevelopment period. The whole internship experience was amazing and eye opening”, said Jacob Burridge.
Adam Fry also felt very fortunate to be chosen from Assistant Superintendents throughout Australia: “To have the opportunity to work at “The Home of Golf”, one of the oldest golf courses in the world was incredibly exciting.”
Both Assistants worked on all of the St. Andrew’s Links courses. This included the New, Jubilee, Eden, Strathtyrum, Balgove, and Castle courses, with the majority of their time spent on the renowned Old Course. They were able to shadow the Course Managers and gain an understanding of what it takes to manage the courses to a high standard and learned about some of the challenges the Managers face.
They were also involved in course maintenance tasks including course setup and changing holes, hand-mowing greens, rolling greens, mowing surrounds, mowing fairways, bunker maintenance and machinery maintenance.
Adam Fry commented that when he first arrived, he felt overwhelmed by the scale of the operation and the size of the property at St. Andrews’s Links. “It didn’t matter which of the seven courses you were working on, they were routinely presented to a high standard. The vistas throughout the courses were remarkable and made it even more enjoyable to come to work each day. Whether we were overlooking the town of St. Andrews, the coast or views off cliff tops, there was never a dull moment”, he said.
Fry continues: “Working on the Old Course presented its own challenges. Morning jobs were always carried out in a high paced environment to prepare the course for play working from the “home end”. Once morning jobs were completed it was always difficult to return to the course and carry out other maintenance tasks safely, due to the high demand for tee times. With the Old Course closed for golf on Sundays but open for the public to roam the property it gave course staff the opportunity to complete maintenance tasks that they wouldn’t usually get time to do during the week”.
Both Burridge and Fry agree that the trip had so many highlights that it is impossible to name just one.
“Working on the Old Course was right up there! It is such an iconic place and the feeling is even more special when you are a part of the course preparations”, Burridge said. Fry agreed “To work across the St. Andrew’s Links courses was an incredible experience. Photos don’t do the Old Course justice, to be able to walk the course and absorb all its history and glory was overwhelming”.
What stood out to both Jacob and Adam was the high attention to detail given to the presentation of all of the St Andrew’s Links courses. The duo also noted the pride that St. Andrew’s take in the management of vegetation and the native flora and fauna throughout the property. The approach to pesticide and fertiliser use across all of their turf surfaces is minimal with an emphasis on utilising cultural practices to promote plant health.
They both had the opportunity to play a round of golf on the Jubilee course at St. Andrew’s and at Kingarrock, the only remaining Hickory golf course in the UK. The St. Andrew’s staff organised visits for the duo to other golf courses throughout Scotland which were equally impressive. These included, Carnoustie Golf Links, Dumbarnie Links, The Golf House Club, Crail Golfing Society, Kingarrock and The Duke’s Golf Club.
These experiences helped them further understand what links golf is all about and appreciate the work of architects like Old Tom Morris and the incredible golf courses they designed.
Both Assistants would like to thank Toro Australia and St. Andrew’s Links for making the internship possible, as well as their respective Course Superintendents; Steven Newell – Victoria Golf Club and Richard James, Kooyonga Golf Club, for their nominations and support.
Burridge: “The knowledge and skills passed on to us by St Andrew’s Links staff will certainly help me in the future in the turf industry. All management staff were very open and willing to share their ideas and philosophies in managing turf. Both Adam and I are very appreciative of their hospitality, and the experiences they provided us with”.
Fry concluded: “I feel very privileged to have taken part in this program, it’s a great initiative of enormous value for people in our position who want to progress in the industry. I would highly encourage others in our position to apply for any future internships”.
No doubt they will both be looking back fondly on their experiences when St. Andrew’s holds the 150th Open in 2021.