Our Mission

BIGGA, Greenkeepers international BIGGA’s Greenkeeper International monthly magazine,  published the following article in May 2010.  It helps define FineGolf’s Mission :-

“It is only natural that club golfers are influenced by golf as depicted on the television, where the emphasis is on long driving, slow play and fast putting surfaces for professional players.

The Masters may be great television but the problems arise when club golfers want the ‘Augusta syndrome‘, or similar, at their home course.

Fine Golf is a campaign that seeks to raise the profile of the ‘traditional classic running-game’ in golf course design and upkeep, in comparison with ‘lush, target-golf’ and encourages club members to support their local greenkeepers in following sustainable principles of the kind advocated by Jim Arthur.

How we came to launch the website.

In 1965, Frank Pennink’s  Golfer’s Companion helped me choose which golf courses to play in the Dublin area while planning a week’s golf holiday.

Being a champion golfer and renowned golf course architect, Pennink knew what he was talking about. It subsequently took me forty more years to play all 128 of the finest courses across the British Isles and Ireland recommended in his book.

As an ordinary golfer, I was also lucky to come across Jim Arthur’s book Practical Greenkeeping which provided the key to what these courses had,  by the sea, on heathland, moorland and downland,  that made them the finest and most enjoyable. I realised it is their firm, dry, fine turf  that is the key.

I run an International Executive Search consultancy to earn my crust but in 2008 the market temporarily fell off a cliff. In the spare time I then had, I decided to launch www.finegolf.co.uk as an update to Pennink’s book and to promote Jim Arthur’s natural methods.

A defining aspect of FineGolf  is its ‘Joy to be Alive’ feeling.

The British Isles is lucky to have a heritage of the finest golf courses in the world, because our climate allows fine grasses to flourish on areas of poor and draining soil that were not wanted for agriculture.

There are about 2,800 golf courses in the UK and Ireland and some 200 of them can be defined as ‘fine’. These are identified by geographical area on www.finegolf.co.uk and I have played almost all of them.

It is simply not possible to rank courses scientifically and so we have developed the concept of a ‘joy to be alive’ FineGolf feeeling to indicate the level of delight they give.

The costly ‘lush, target’ game is under pressure.

‘Lush, target golf ‘ was initially promoted in the UK by the likes of the quadruple Open Champion Bobby Locke from South Africa, in the 1960s/70s (although he was pretty good at the scuttle stuff on firm ground, and was clever enough to adapt his own game to lush American conditions) he suggested that British professional golfers needed to learn how to shoot for the pin, not just the green, in order to beat the Americans. As a result, over-watered greens in GB&I became the fashion.

However, the real growth era for ‘lush, target golf ‘ was in the 1980s/90s during the golf course construction boom when the big, bulldozered, internationally designed courses appeared on ground chosen primarily for commercial reasons near large conurbations rather than for its grasses and natural drainage.

Many tour professionals prefer to play on ‘lush target’ courses with their predictability and lack of bounce, while commercial television loves the drama of ‘signature’ holes over water. But as Jim Arthur said “Since when did golf become a water sport?”

The characteristic features of these courses, with their ‘pudding’ greens in the colder months, are the excessive use of fertilisers and pesticides with consequent pollution, the overuse of water and their enormous maintenance budgets. They do not fit these times when the recreational game is under pressure (since 2004 there has been a 20% drop in Golf Club membership) when golfers would prefer to play on the likes of courses as listed on www.finegolf.co.uk if given the chance, as they are enjoyable all-year-round.

FineGolf is part of the re-emergence of a trend.

Today in 2010 there is a discernible trend back towards the Fine ‘running-game’ of Golf
Examples of this are:

1. Everywhere golf clubs are looking to reduce inputs and lower costs and develop sustainable practices.
2. The R&A has invested heavily in the website www.bestcourseforgolf.org

3. the USGA has created a new tool to measure turf firmness;

4. the traditional greenkeeping ‘Gingerbread’ movement arose;

5. new course developments, like Castle Stuart, The Renaissance and Menei (Trump), all elected to put down fine grasses, as does the new hotel-owned Spey Valley;
6. new regulations on clubhead grooves, promotes the fine game.

7. BIGGASTRI and the GTC are all committed to promoting sustainable methods.

Greenkeepers are a vital element in the trend back to the ‘running-game’ of FineGolf.

Greenkeepers have to satisfy their customers and we all know that among a membership Club of 500 there can be 500 expert “agronomists”! The ability of course managers to communicate coherently through the mediums of newsletters, a page on the Club website and in front of a meeting of members is crucial.

Fine Golf looks to give support and build the confidence of course managers in standing up and fighting for what they know is best long term, which is not necessarily the same as that promoted by television golf, due to those courses being prepared exclusively for that event with little expense spared and should be described as such to avoid misunderstandings.

www.finegolf.co.uk is entirely independent and supported by all progressive golf people and organisations that want to see traditional, classic golf values regain their historical importance.

What can you do?

Become a friend of Fine Golf, register  to receive our free newsletter to let you know when new reviews and articles are published and pass on the news to your friends.”

Reader Comments

On May 20th, 2010 Charles Jay Harris,Jr. said:

Dear lorne,
Keep your research and comments coming.
Jay Harris, jr

On June 24th, 2010 shirley said:

good article on fine grass courses being more sustainable and cheaper.

On September 13th, 2014 Ross Baker said:

Hi Lorne, got your website particulars from a mate in Aus, I read your article on “History of the Ball Controversy” Great Article. Browsed your website. Very Good, Keep up the Good Work. Ross Baker Traditional Golf Club Maker, Barnbougle Lost Farm Golf Links Bridport Tas Aus.
Dear Ross,
Thank you so much for your kind comment. I have heard a lot of good comment about Barnbougle. Your climate is cool enough to have the running game on fescues I believe. Lorne

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