‘The role of the golf club manager is so diverse’

Paul Woodham, Head of Agronomy at STRI Group, explains why the world-leading turf consultancy organisation has partnered with the GCMA STRI Group has joined the GCMA Business Partner Network as a Strategic Partner. We sat down with Paul Woodham, the group’s Head of Agronomy, to talk about the organisation, the future of the industry, and how members can benefit from their world-leading sports turf expertise… Could you explain the role of STRI Group and what the organisation does? STRI’s roots date as far back as 1929, providing research and consultancy expertise for golf. We’ve evolved significantly since then, and broadened globally, now operating as STRI Group, working in different sports and in the management of natural environments. STRI is well-renowned by people in golf for agronomic and ecological consultancy, research, and soil laboratory work, but we offer many more services today. STRI designs golf courses and sports pitches, and provides environmental management, including water management such as sustainable drainage and water security solutions for irrigation. We also plan course developments from conceptto design, build and then into consultancy, grow-in, and ongoing management. And that’s much wider than just golf… Yes, from natural turf and synthetic pitch design and monitoring in football, at grassroots level right up to World Cups and UEFA Championships across the world. It’s the same with golf, working at grassroots level with local authorities and proprietary and private courses of all standards, up to and including to championship venues. We’ve also carried out work in the equestrian field – building eventing arenas and racetracks, and conducting their maintenance in extreme climates such as the Middle East. We are most widely known outside of the UK for our work in stadia design, where we have been involved in some of the world’s most iconic venues. These projects led to the development of our warm season grass research centres in Australia and Qatar, expanding our learning and development opportunities in all areas of sportsturf management, and how to adapt to different climates and the threat of climate change. A growing area for STRI and our sister company The Environmental Protection Group (EPG), is embedding sustainability and biodiversity into urban environments with projects such as blue - green roof systems, including rain gardens, sustainable drainage systems and urban greening. We’re fortunate that we work in so many different fields. Why have you formed a Strategic Partnership with the GCMA? We understand that the role of club manager is very diverse. There are so many disciplines they are working with, from economic and environmental sustainability, to managing committees and owners best interests, implementing business decisions and investments. Whether they are proprietary or private members’ clubs, club managers are often the ‘go to’ people and manage not only the members’ expectations but also those of staff. The development of course managers over the last couple of decades has been excellent, with many accessing education and training. Our positioning with the GCMA is to promote education and thought leadership – to provide support...
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