The golf industry has taken a number of hits in the
last 10-20 years. Players who leave the game do so
for a number of reasons. Some complain that it's too
expensive and takes too much time. Newer golfers
get frustrated by the learning curve. More courses
have closed than opened in recent years for
economic reasons. If you were the negative type,
you might think that golf's days were numbered.
If you're a golf course owner, you have all of
those issues to contend with on the demand side,
and increasing pressure to conserve water, apply
less chemicals, and protect wildlife on the
operational side. Oh, and you had better tighten your
belt and continue to provide high quality conditions,
or golfers will pick up their cell phone and book a tee
time somewhere else. (Or on the private club side,
join another club that's likely offering an incentive of
One company, Greenway Golf, provides courses
with maintenance, restoration, and project
management solutions that allow them to offer
better conditions and playability, within the
constrains of the new golf economy. We had the
chance to sit down with their Chief Agronomist, Marc
Logan, to learn how they are doing it.
Marc - You're from Australia, a continent
know for its weather extremes to be sure. How did
learning the business there inform your views on golf
course maintenance around the world.
Marc Logan (ML): Well
firstly, Australia is the driest continent in the world.
It's been in a drought for 40 years. So obviously,
there a number of things that apply to the golf
course turf maintenance situation there. Having a
climatically suitable grass is much more desirable.
Also, what they teach in Australia is that the
playability of a golf course is the most important
thing, whereas here in the U.S. people tend to be
more focused on the color of the grass. Now,
especially in California with water reductions and
rationing, it's changed the way golf courses have
been managed. Having been trained in Australia has
given me the chance to help existing golf courses
adapt, and to steer new developments on where to
go to plan for the future. It's really important
because water is such a huge commodity from a cost
standpoint. We now have the ability to pinpoint and
accurately apply water to specific areas using
modern irrigation technology -- this helps us save
courses money while giving them the best conditions
AGC: Greenway Golf has a
wide variety of public and private golf course clients
around the world, in a variety of climates. Is there a
common reason they turn to Greenway?
ML: There is. I've been lucky
to have worked in Europe, Asia, South America,
South Africa, and the United States. The one thing
that's common is that everybody wants a great golf
course and wants to apply the various principles of
environmental stewardship like using climatically
suitable grasses. The cost of maintaining golf
courses is increasing so golf courses seek us out to
find the right grasses for their environment and the
other ways to reduce expense while still maintaining
the best playing surfaces and that's what we've
developed -- so golf courses seek us out.
AGC: Word travels fast when
you work on high-profile projects, and you've
certainly worked with some wonderful courses.
ML: We have. And no matter
if it's Valhalla, Monterey Peninsula Country Club,
Kingsbarns in Scotland, everybody wants the best
possible conditions in the most economical manner.
It doesn't matter which golf course it is -- they are
all striving for the same thing.
AGC: Greenway Golf
recently provided project management services for
the prestigious Sherwood Country Club, north of Los
Angeles. What was that project like, given the high
profile nature of the facility, which has hosted a PGA
ML: Well, that was
interesting. The golf course is 25 years old. It was
built by Jack Nicklaus. But the infrastructure was
dilapidated. It was unbelievable actually. Once we
started work and looked at what was underneath the
ground it was sad how bad it was. Myself and the
golf course superintendent worked with Jack on the
[renovation] project. We completely changed the
infrastructure and wound up installing one of the
most sophisticated irrigation systems in the world.
Sand capped all the fairways, installed modern
drainage. 120,000 linear feet of internal drainage
pipes. Before it had no internal drains, didn't hold
moisture. So now it's set to facilitate high quality
turf conditions for the next 25 years.
AGC: With Greenway, you've
had the chance to work with famous course
architects -- in addition to Jack Nicklaus you've also
worked with Rees Jones, Tom Fazio, and several
others. What has it been like working with them, and
have you seen a change in their attitude towards golf
maintenance and design given the current nature of
the golf economy?
I think every architect now is looking for the
most playable golf course and how that can be done
the more efficiently for the next 15-20 years. And
you see a difference between the architects. I've
worked with some of the best architects in the
country. I find that the player/architects like Jack
Nicklaus are still pretty focused on the shot values of
the course whereas architects like Rees Jones and
Tom Fazio are looking at the old school maintenance
perspective more than the player/architect.
AGC: Greenway Golf
currently manages one of the busiest public course
facilities in California for the City of Alameda, east of
San Francisco. You're in the process of a major
renovation of their South Course with Rees Jones,
and word is out that it's going to be spectacular. Tell
us about that.
ML: This is going to be a
fantastic project. It will be the first [Australian]
Sandbelt style golf course in Northern California.
We're working with Rees Jones there. From an
environmental standpoint, we are doing some
unique things like water harvesting, using Bent
grasses that are native to Northern California, and
drought-tolerant Bermuda grass fairways. It will be
really enjoyable to play. The average player who
maybe hits the ball 240-yards will have more fun,
getting more run from tee to green, having openings
to play run-up shots to greens, and options to play
the ground game. It's going to be really special.
Growing up in Australia I remember the advice was
to focus on where the ball finishes, not where it
AG: Thanks for your time
Marc. I can't wait for opening day at Alameda to
experience the course for the first time.
ML: We'll see you there.