Date: July 08, 2013
Author: Abi Moustafa / Turfmate

Interview: Championships Director Trevor Herden

Courtesy: Come late November all eyes will be on the course at The Royal Sydney Golf Club in Rose Bay as the world s elite golfers tee it off for the Emirates Australian Open. Turfmate spoke to Golf Australia s Director of Championships, Trevor Herden, as preparations for this year&aposs Open continue. How did you get into the golfing industry? I started caddying when I left New Zealand in 1986 after living there for 10 years Did you always know you wanted to get into the Industry? No I didn t Actually, only due to my marriage breaking down I left New Zealand and I started caddying for a New Zealand golfer named Greg Turner, who was also a member of my club in New Zealand. What are some of the challenges you&aposve faced in your career? There have been a number of challenges across the whole of my career, but it would have to be between dealing with awkward players and dealing with policy boards in early days. 9 times out of 10, these boards were made up of players, which unfortunately never really seemed to work. You have your challenges with each tournament I guess, including bad weather and all sorts of things, but one thing is for sure, you never know what s around the corner when it comes to golf events. Having worked on the Australasian PGA Tour here for 13 years here, 3 in the US and 6 years with Australian Open there has never been any shortage of surprises! In the past you ve worked on the PGA Tour, overseeing courses all around the world. With less than 6 months out from the tournament, what preparation do you believe needs to go into a ground that is internationally recognised? In regards to The Royal Sydney Golf Course preparation, we ve had to contour and shape the fairways in places, some narrowing, and some widening. We ve also had to establish the primary roughs earlier going into winter. Sydney and Melbourne more so than anywhere else are proving a little awkward with their late spring growths, so we have to establish our rough heights going into dormancy as opposed to relying on major growth coming out of dormancy. This has certainly been the case in Sydney, the last three years in particular as spring has arrived 4 6 weeks later making things more difficult. What speed will the greens be, come tournament time? In a perfect world the speed of the greens will reach 11 12 feet and firm. An interesting thing about that speed is that at that time of the year, Sydney always delivers north-easterly winds. These can get quite strong, so we would have to back off somewhat if those heavy winds arrive. Adam Scott has announced he&aposs coming out to take part in the Emirates Australian Open, what do you think this means for the tournament? Yes Adam Scott s coming to play. It’s outstanding for the tournament to have even one major winner compete, especially the current US Masters champion playing in the championship. It’s really a great privilege to have him play How many people will be here (at The Royal Sydney Golf Club) come tournament time? It’s Australia s national championship, so I would think we would have upwards of 40,000 fans. What&aposs your biggest obstacle on the course? Weather is normally our biggest obstacle. I find that if you look after the basics well you will have fewer problems to attend to. The weather 9 times out of 10 is your biggest issue though. If wet, which players do you think will conquer the course and why? Well if it s wet, obviously the greens become a little bit softer, becoming much more receptive. If that happens, it basically throws a lot more players into the mix. The Royal Sydney course has recently been remodelled too, so it is significantly more difficult to attack flags because they re basically in pockets, instead of just on one big flat area like it used to be. What&aposs The Emirates Australian Open s biggest challenge when attracting viewers and attendees? And what can we do to attract more young entrants to the game? I think it s like anything, having role models like Adam Scott take part in the tournament you re going to attract younger people to the game. A large number will come out and watch Adam, hundreds of thousands will watch on Channel 7. It’s very important to have major winners competing in your event. Our high performance department figures around the country show that we re certainly developing more higher quality players, so all of the trends are going the right way at the moment, it s all very exciting for the game. Channel Seven will broadcast the Australian Open, how do you feel about that? It certainly shows how well respected the championship is, it s great that Channel Seven has decided to partner Golf Australia by broadcasting the championship around the world on all 4 days.” Any last words? “We would like to thank all of the sponsors, in particular Emirates. We would like to thank all of the players and the managers that support our great championship. We also appreciate the volunteers who come along to help and make the event a huge success. We must also thank the Royal Sydney Golf Club, all of their staff- we thank everybody involved because it s the biggest week in Australian golf.