Time in position
James joined Brookwater Golf & Country Club in February 2019 after returning to Australia following 8 years of work in Asia.
What do you love about your course?
Brookwater was designed by Greg Norman and is truly a special course that offers a challenge to golfers of all ability. The layout and particularly the different elevations featured throughout the course provides a ‘picture postcard’ golf experience, continually stimulating and exciting the most discerning golfer.
The golf course recently went through a major redevelopment with all greens resurfaced including several new greens. I was fortunate enough to get to put the final touches on the past superintendent’s hard work.
What do you love about being a superintendent?
I enjoy working outdoors ‘hands on’ creating pristine playing conditions for members and visitors, solving unforeseen challenges, extreme weather and adverse growing conditions. Not knowing what challenges will arise on any given day provides constant variety and opportunity for the team to excel and achieve excellent results and a culture of quality workmanship. Through-out my career I have enjoyed igniting passion inside of the agronomy team and earning the respect of different nationalities and cultures by leading by example.
What challenges do you face being a super?
My biggest challenge has been peoples acceptance of my rapid promotion to Superintendent with Troon Golf in Asia when I was just 23 years old. I’ve had to perhaps work that little bit harder to gain the respect and trust of all my team and stakeholders. Learning how to achieve excellence in Asia’s climate and aggressive growing conditions was a huge learning curve.
What was your first job?
Apprentice at Lakelands Golf Club, Gold Coast.
What was your best job?
Director of Agronomy in Brunei overseeing 3 golf courses and exposure to club house operations.
What was your most challenging job?
My last position was at the Jack Nicklaus 72 hole Forest City, Johor, Malaysia. The project consisted of the construction and ‘grow in’ to exacting specifications and standards of 3 courses build on reclaimed mangrove swamps with sand pumped from the sea. Promoting strong growth and quality of all playing surfaces was certainly the most challenging to date.
In addition to being paid money, how else has your career created value in your life?
Meeting so many colleagues who have become friends from around the world has provided a rich network to share and participate in solutions, ideas and experiences. An immense amount of satisfaction is achieved in growing a new golf course or working hard to restore an established course to its original design mentoring and developing strong teams in the process.
Who was the biggest influence in your career?
Darren Moore who is now the General Manager at Shadow Creek in China. Darren was my Superintendent whilst I completed my apprenticeship at Lakeland Golf Club.
Is your job what you thought it would be when you started?
Initially, I had little understanding of the complexities of the job but now have a great deal of respect for the industry and just how much is involved in being able to achieve quality and consistency. Some friends outside the industry use to make humorous comments that I should ‘go mow some grass’ now I can laugh at those comments.
Describe your team?
The team at Brookwater is new and mostly inexperienced, whilst this creates a challenge to train and develop the team with the standards and expectations required this is one aspect I really enjoy. My Assistant Ben Mclean is very passionate about the industry, I am enjoying having his energy and enthusiasm whilst we work hard to improve the Agronomy standards that Brookwater Golf & Country Club once had.
We have the full support of Troon Golf who originally developed and opened the golf course and now have once again been fully engaged to return it to its former glory.
Do you have any advice for someone interested in this field/job?
This industry has endless opportunities and possibilities for those who are hardworking with a thirst for knowledge and willing to learn from different properties and their work practices. Remember, “there are many ways to skin a cat”.
Working for a global company such as Troon would be a fantastic career path for any young green keeper. Not only is there endless possibilities working in over 26 countries with over 400 managed facilities but the leadership, training and commitment to excellence is second to none. Troon typically promote from within but due to unprecedented growth are always on the search for quality individuals.
How do you prepare yourself for emerging trends and changes in the industry?
I am fortunate to have met some very inspirational and knowledgeable suppliers, developers and Agronomists and, we stay in constant communication, discussing industry developments and initiatives at various properties whether that be new machinery, Agronomy methods and turf varieties.
Keep an open mind, but what is refreshing is being able to reference Troon Agronomy Standards which in truth is the most basic sound agronomic practices that insure a scientific approach through soil and water analysis and consistency in programming and cultural practices, nothing that wasn’t taught to us all at trade school!