Jim’s inheritance

2015 is ten years on from when Jim Arthur, Europe’s leading golf agronomist, died.

It is worth all golfers remembering the debt we owe him.


Above all else, (and he advised over 500 golf clubs) he protected as The R&A’s agronomist The Open Championship venues with ‘running-golf’ grasses when so many other courses in the 1980/90s were succumbing to ‘target-golf’ weed grasses.

jim arthur golf agronomist

Jim Arthur

Jim Arthur was never afraid to air his strong views and led the principled battle against the over-use of expensive fertiliser, pesticides and over-watering which encourages the weed annual meadow grass (Poa annua). He fought against shaving greens down for speed, preferring to emphasise aeration and top dressing with originally a 70-30 sand seaweed mix which went on to become a fensoil mix.

In his later years he had to fight more and more against the fashion for faster and faster greens. He knew if speed was achieved by lowering height of cut this would kill the fine grasses, which when established give trueness and speed all-year-round for the long-term.

richard arthur son of jim arthur

Richard Arthur

When I asked his son Richard for an anecdote he told me: “I asked dad why he wasn’t worried about being sued and never carried insurance or indemnity. I got a classic Jim Arthur reply, ‘Well son, if you are always right and never wrong, no one can ever sue you and I’m sick and tired of always being right.’”

This attitude was not always popular among some of the status-seeking egotists of golf club officialdom who were not keen for their well-meaning work to be criticised!

Practical Greenkeeping by Jim Arthur

Practical Greenkeeping

Nevertheless The R&A persuaded him to put his thoughts on to paper and so they were able to publish in the late 1990s Practical Greenkeeping which has subsequently become the bible of greenkeeping.

Today his work is an essential part of the retro-trend that we have seen gather pace since the turn of the millennium, towards ‘running-golf’ and away from ‘target-golf’.

Golfers who want to understand the simple dichotomy between the annual weed Poa annua and fine perennial grasses and all Green Committee members should be encouraged to read this most enjoyable, humorous, important book.

gordon irvine golf course consultant

Gordon Irvine

Jim showed it is possible to rebalance a golf course’s agronomy towards fine grasses and improve performance, without disruption to members’ play as Gordon Irvine, (a member of FineGolf’s Advisory Panel and who some call Jim Arthur’s heir) has re-proved in recent years at some of the finest courses in GB&I and Europe.

Reader Comments

On June 26th, 2015 Neil Sjoberg said:

Jim Arthur’s common-sense approach to golf certainly helped us establish Epping Golf Course using ‘Practical Greenkeeping‘ as our guide. Practical Greenkeeping was a gift to me from West Essex for thanks of years of the quiz nights I ran there for them.
However Jim was wrong about one thing: “Rye grass has no place on a golf course” The wonderful new dwarf rye grass cultivars have transformed greenkeeping on clay soil where life is extra hard to support fine grasses.
Dear Neil,
New ryegrass cultivars, though maybe not appropriate for the finest ‘running-golf’ courses, I am told by Johnsons and Barenbrug they can help particularly in well trafficed areas. The older coarser ryegrasses, though good for football pitches, are best ‘rescued’ out of golf courses. Lorne

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