Date: November 16, 2016
Author: Brett Robinson

Course superintendents fact sheet

Golf Course Superintendent

Name: Steve Marsden (pictured right).

Age: 49.

Family: Wife Paula, son Luke (16) and daughter Zoey (13).

Nationality: New Zealander.

Media Contact Information: Steve Marsden is available to speak to media during the 2016 Emirates Australian Open.

Golf Course/Turf Management Career

  • •  Years in the golf course maintenance industry: 30
  • •  Years as a course superintendent: 23
  • •  Period at Royal Sydney Golf Club (RSGC): Four years. Marsden started as RSGC superintendent in December 2012 replacing former superintendent John Odell who had left earlier in 2012 after 24 years at the helm. Marsden arrived at RSGC after four years as superintendent at Cape Kidnappers, NZ.

RSGC comprises an 18-hole Championship Course, 9 hole ‘Centennial’ golf course, 11 lawn tennis courts, 7 hardcourt tennis courts, 2 croquet lawns and two bowling greens.

Previous courses:

  • •  Cape Kidnappers, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.Golf course superintendent 2008-2012. An 18-hole Tom Doak designed golf course.
  • •  The Kinloch Club, Lake Taupo, New Zealand.Golf course superintendent 2002-2008. An 18-hole Jack Nicklaus signature course, responsible for the grow-in and maintenance.
  • •  Lakelands Golf Club, Gold Coast, Australia.Golf course superintendent 1995-2002. An 18-hole Jack Nicklaus signature course, responsible for the grow-in and maintenance.
  • •  The London Golf Club, Kent, England.Courses Manager 1992-1994. A 36 hole Jack Nicklaus facility, responsible for the grow-in and maintenance.

Association involvement: Current member of the Australian Golf Course Superintendents’ Association (AGCSA), NSW Golf Course Superintendents Association (NSWGCSA), New Zealand Golf Course Superintendents Association (NZGCSA) and Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA).

Turf management qualifications: Certificate in Greenkeeping 1989 – Charlestown College of TAFE; Advanced Diploma in Turf Management 2001 – Hortus Australia.


  • •  Lakelands Golf Club: During Marsden’s time as superintendent the club achieved status as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary with the environmental work carried out, the fourth golf course in Australia to achieve this. Queensland Golf Industry Environmental Award winner 2002
  • •  Cape Kidnappers, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. During Marsden’s time as superintendent the club achieved status as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary with the environmental work carried out, the first golf course in New Zealand to achieve this. Also won the following awards:
  •      – 2011 NZGCSA Environmental Award
  •      – 2011 GCSAA and Golf Digest Environmental Leaders in Golf International Award winner
  •      – 2012 AGCSA Claude Crockford Award winner


Previous tournament experience:

  • •  2013 Emirates Australian Open (RSGC)
  • •  The 2009 Kiwi Challenge (Cape Kidnappers) featuring Hunter Mahan, Sean O’Hair, Camilo Villegas and Anthony Kim.
  • •  The London Golf Club 1994 Skins Game featuring Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros and Tony Jacklin.


Royal Sydney GC Senior Staff and Tournament Personnel

Royal Sydney course management:

  • Assistant superintendents: Adam Marchant (13 years at RSGC) and Jake Gibbs (1 year at RSGC). Marchant involved with the 2008 and 2013 Emirates Australian Opens.
  • Links Foreman: Stephen Mallyon (1 year at RSGC) and Jon-Paul Wood (18 months at RSGC). Mallyon was involved with the 2012 Emirates Australian Open at The Lakes Golf Club as the assistant superintendent.
  • Workshop Manager/Turf Equipment Technician: Ian Widocks (12 years). Widocks has been involved with the 2006 MFS Australian Open, 2007 MFS Women’s Australian Open, the 2008 Australian Open, the 2010 Davis Cup and the 2013 Emirates Australian Open.
  • Irrigation Technician: Mark Young (37 years at RSGC). Young has been involved with the 1988 Panasonic Australian Open, 1994 Heineken Australian Open, 1999 Holden Australian Open, 2006 MFS Australian Open, 2007 MFS Women’s Australian Open, the 2008 Australian Open, the 2010 Davis Cup and the 2013 Emirates Australian Open.
  • Total RSGC crew (non-tournament time): 42 (includes Course, Northern Area Turfcare, Workshop and Landscape)
  • Total course staff for 2016 Emirates Australian Open:  Sixty-six (66).Twenty-four (24) volunteer staff will come in for the tournament.

Among the volunteers will be four course superintendents:

  • Dan Cook (Elanora Country Club, NSW):Dan has been superintendent at Elanora in Sydney since August 2007. Prior to this role he worked at Augusta National Golf Club for two years and rose to be part of the assistant team under superintendent Brad Owen. He was responsible for managing the back nine greens at ANGC during the 2007 Masters (won by Zach Johnson)
  • Mark Spraggs (Club Taree, NSW): Mark originally hails from New Zealand and is a second generation superintendent. His father John is course superintendent at Royal Wellington Golf Club, NZ.
  • Andrew Wright (Gisborne Golf Club, Vic)
  • Brad Ronan (Nambucca Heads Golf Club, NSW)

Other volunteers hail from:

  • Scotland: St Andrews Links Trust.
  • USA: Pinebrook County Club.
  • New Zealand: Cape Kidnappers (apprentice greenkeeper Ben McLean and greenkeeper Charles Dunlop).
  • NSW: Bonnie Doon Golf Club, The Lakes Golf Club, The Australian Golf Club, Avondale Golf Club, Toronto Country Club and Pacific Dunes.
  • Victoria: Victoria Golf Club, Moonah Links Resort and Capital Golf Club.
  • Queensland: Sanctuary Cove G&CC, Lavarack Golf Club (Townsville) and Hamilton Island Golf Club.


Course Information (RSGC Championship Course)

Course Specs:

  • •  Holes: 18.
  • •  Length/Par: 6344 metres, par 72.
  • •  Slope rating: 135.
  • •  Scratch rating: 74.
  • •  Annual rounds: 55,000-60,000.
  • •  Tournament course configuration: As per member play.


Turf varieties:

  • •  Greens: Penn G2 creeping bentgrass/Poa annua
  • •  Surrounds: Wintergreen couchgrass.
  • •  Tees: Santa Ana couchgrass.
  • •  Fairways: Wintergreen couchgrass.
  • •  Roughs: Mix of couchgrass varieties.

Total maintained area of fine turf: 43 hectares. 

Bunkers: 121

Greens age/construction type: Native sand push up greens, built in 2001/2002.

Average size of greens: Approximately 500m2 (1.2ha total)

Irrigation system: Rain Bird pump station, Rain Bird Cirrus control system and approximately 800 sprinklers.


Tournament Preparation

Projected tournament heights of cut (correct as of 10 November, 2016):

  • •  Greens: 2.5-2.7mm
  • •  Surrounds: 9mm
  • •  Tees: 7mm
  • •  Fairways: 9mm
  • •  Roughs: 55mm


Projected tournament course preparations:

  • Greens: Single cut each morning, some greens may be double cut; rolling (depending on Golf Australia requirements and weather). Seeking a green speed of around 11-12 feet.
  • Surrounds: Single cut each morning.
  • Tees: Single cut each morning.
  • Fairways: Single cut each morning.
  • Semi rough: Single cut each morning
  • Roughs: Left as is.
  • Bunkers: All bunkers hand-raked each morning and faces broomed.
  • Watering: Hand watering (greens) if required, only in the afternoon.


Turf management practices carried out in the lead-up to the tournament:

A slow-release fertiliser was applied to all fairways, surrounds, tees and rough in early September after a scarifying and topdressing of all fine cut couchgrass surfaces. Due to the prevailing cool spring conditions and the resulting slow response of the couchgrass (a warm-season grass variety), a second granular fertiliser application was made to the fairways, surrounds and isolated areas of rough in late October. An application of foliar fertiliser was also applied to fairways, surrounds and the step cut (semi-rough).

Greens were aerified with ½” hollow tines, core holes washed out, topdressed and soil amendments applied at the end of August. Ongoing foliar nutrition program to greens. Intercept (seedhead suppressant) program on greens to assist with controlling Poa annua seed. Primo (plant growth regulator) program on greens after greens recovered from renovations and leading into the tournament. Dusting of greens has been on a weekly basis since mid-October. A final dusting to greens will be the week prior to the event. Preventative fungicide program has been in place since greens renovations.


Machinery fleet:

  • •  Greens: 9 x Jacobsen TC22 walk-behind mowers;
  • •  Collars: 2 x Jacobsen TC22 walk-behind mower;
  • •  Fairways: 4 x Toro RM6700D units;
  • •  Surrounds: 2 x Toro RM3100D;
  • •  Tees: 1 x Toro 3400 Greensmaster triplex (three-wheel) mower;
  • •  Transport vehicles: 13 turf utilities;
  • •  Rollers: 3 x TruTurf electric greens rollers;
  • •  Additional equipment brought in for the tournament: 3 x Toro 3550D surrounds mowers; Toro Workman utility vehicles; 3 x Toro Reelmaster 5010H fairway mowers; 1 x Toro Workman GTX; 1 x Jacobsen Truckster


Other information

Gil Hanse has recently been appointed as the new course architect for Royal Sydney. Hanse is currently working through a new Master Plan for the golf courses and practice facilities. This Master Plan will also incorporate space for a new Turfcare Facility.