Support the MBE for Paul Larsen

Added on July 19th, 2021 by Lorne Smith
Posted in Greenkeepers

FineGolf calls for Paul Larsen, Royal St George’s greenkeeper, to be awarded the MBE for services to golf.

The last and only greenkeeper to be awarded the MBE was John Philp, FineGolf’s “Hero of Carnoustie” and a member of FineGolf’s Advisory Panel, who led the team who turned round the agronomy of Carnoustie from weed to fine grasses to allow The Open Championship to return in 1999 after an absence of 24 years.

Paul Larsen applauds Collin Morikawa.

The magnificent set-up of the Royal St George’s course was the canvas upon which we have seen the emergence of the next great golfer.

Do we want the biggest hitters to win? No. The American Collin Morikawa couldn’t even get over the hill with his drive on the seventh.

Who were the chasing pack? Jordan Spieth and Louis Oosthuizen, the two most subtle of golfers plotting their way round rather than bombing their shots widely via the rough.

All Open Championship courses are prepared for the running-game but this year’s greenkeeper is special.

Ten years ago when he was appointed Course Manager the greens, aprons and run-offs were dominated by the weed grasses of rye, Yorkshire fog and annual meadow grass (Poa annua) and he has had to fight tooth and claw to implement a policy of installing fine fescues across the links to return to the traditional values of running-golf.

Why did he adopt this approach? Because it is these grasses that deliver the highest quality performance of any golf grass in terms of firmness, smoothness and the best speed for putting.

Paul withstood the most enormous pressure.

Following the 2018 heatwave and drought (the worst since 1976) that brought havoc to many courses. It would have been easy to turn back to fertiliser and water, nor did he over-seed his fairways with ryegrass (as some have mistakenly done). No, supported by his indomitable Chair of Green, he persevered, with a Jim Arthur persistence, to allow naturally the indigenous, perennial fine fescues, through Conservation Greenkeeping, to outcompete the weed grasses.

The greenkeeping profession needs increased recognition from golfers. They are the people who look after their greatest asset. They do not just rise early in the morning and cut grass.

Here is the outstanding greenkeeper of his generation. He has the personality and courageous discipline to project his technical and management skills and represent greenkeeping at its best.

It would be wonderful if he was invited to the Palace not only in recognition of his labours but as recognition that what he has done needs to be replicated across GB&I if golf is to flourish in today’s modern world.

FineGolf is going to write to Martin Slumbers, CEO of The R&A, martinslumbers@randa.org and Craig Tracey MP (Con), chair of the Parliamentary golfing group, craig.tracey.mp@parliament.uk and our local MP to request support for this worthy cause.

This is an opportunity for golfers who love the ‘running-game’ to celebrate not only the new Champion Golfer but also the greenkeeper who made it possible.

The other Parliamentary golfing group Vice-Chairs are : Baroness Nye of Lambeth (Lab), Laurence Robertson MP (Con), Lord Moynihan (Con), Gavin Newlands MP (SNP), Lord Robertson of Port Ellen (Lab), Lord Lennie (Lab), Wendy Chamberlain MP (Lib Dem),Karl McCartney MP (Con),Julian Knight MP (Con),Lord Goddard of Stockport (Lib Dem), Rt Hon Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP (DUP),Steve Brine (Con),Ian Paisley MP (DUP).

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