Travel is part and parcel of my life and I have become proficient at squeezing a weeks’ worth of clothes into cabin baggage. My trips are short but frequent and my first trip of 2020 saw me head over to Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in Saudi Arabia for a couple of days ahead of the Saudi International. Royal Greens opened about 2 and a half years ago and is the first Championship course in the Kingdom.
Preparing to host the 2nd Saudi International, a European Tour Event, is a pretty intense experience; there are challenges both on and off the course and meeting European Tour expectations is essential. The ever looming notion that the worlds eyes will soon be firmly on your golf course is quite exhilarating and nerve racking in equal measure. And for the associates on the ground the stakes are high. So my extra pair of hands is always welcome.
This notion led to me being on the golf course at 5.00 am with our operations associates as they prepped the driving range for the incoming of some of the world’s greatest golfers. No pressure then! The meticulous attention to detail that these guys have is incredible. By the time we (they) left, the range was ready for action.
But one of my favourite experiences of the trip was sitting in on our Agronomy pre-shift meeting for the first round of the Tournament. Paddy, our Irish Superintendent, was addressing a room of 35 associates from predominately south Asian countries, who speak several different languages and have limited English proficiency. Between Paddy’s thick Irish accent and his energy and enthusiasm (he was quite literally jumping round the room and this was another VERY early morning so his energy is entirely commendable), I was absolutely struggling to understand. As I watched on, his team engrossed in the display happening before their eyes, I was sure that none of them were understanding his direction and expectation. How wrong I was.
They queried his directions, provided suggestions back, held in depth dialogue together and did so in a language (s) and auditory style that can only be specific to Royal Green’s Golf & Country Club. This agronomy team is a melting pot of nationalities that are unified on exceeding their Members, Guests and specifically the European Tour’s agronomic expectations this particular week. I can assure you, they did so. The course was in impeccable condition and showed a great representation of the commitment that The Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi have in growing the great game of golf in the Kingdom.
One thing I love about my job is that my colleagues inspire me and motivate me every day; I left that agronomy meeting with a fresh enthusiasm, thanks to Paddy. I’ll leave the jumping and energetic briefings at unearthly hours of the morning to him though.