Q&A with Simon Doyle, the head of agronomy at Troon Europe

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick October 24, 2011 16:41

GCM: How did you end up as an agronomist?

Simon Doyle: I was in Ireland when an opportunity came up to go out to Japan as an assistant agronomist for a US-based consultancy firm. Things progressed from there before joining Troon Golf six years ago to head up agronomy for the Japan division and as of this year the European division.

GCM: Was this something you have always had an interested in?

SD: Although I worked on a golf course from a young age and even had my own maintenance operation at 16, I didn’t always see it as my future path, but that changed once when my parents developed a golf course at home in Ireland; Glen of the Downs Golf Club. Once I became involved with that development I knew a career in agronomy was for me.

GCM: Where are you currently based?

SD: I’m currently based in Portugal a little less than half my time, other than that you’ll find me somewhere else in Europe at one of our projects in the UK, Spain, France, Italy, Greece or Croatia.

GCM: What challenges do you face with the varying locations, soil type and climate?

SD: This is one aspect of the job that does make it very interesting and keeps me very much involved. What I will say is that the fundamentals for maintaining high quality golf course conditions are the same no matter where you go in the world.

In every region we talk about the importance of balanced fertility programs, solid cultural practices and last, but certainly not least, good irrigation practices. The specific challenges in each region can differ however, for example in Japan the hot humid conditions following rainy season make managing bentgrass greens in the summer a very challenging time.

Europe has a variety of climates and conditions itself but certainly one of the most challenging aspects is dealing with the water quality and quantity.

GCM: How do the European courses compare with the rest of the world in terms of condition and maintenance requirements?

SD: Conditions work hand in hand with guest expectations and of course resources available. In the US expectations are high as is competition between golf courses; high levels of competition means conditions must be right to survive.

Asia is a little different again with high expectations on conditions but even greater expectations for service – almost waited on hand and foot! Europe has a variety of levels given the mix of developed and emerging markets and also customer demand varies greatly.

Ireland is one country that has come on leaps and bound with respect to conditions, primarily driven by ambitious superintendents who continually look to raise the bar and with an economy that has grown into consumers who demand more.

It’s imperative to understand each market condition and what the guests expect. Striving to exceed these expectations on a daily basis and continuing to raise the bar is the difference between success and failure in today’s competitive markets.

GCM: What key indicators of course condition do you look for in any new course development?

SD: First of all it would have to be water availability, quality and means of distribution alongside appropriate choice of grass types. The construction methods and practices themselves are of fundamental importance. It’s all about proven, reliable construction techniques to ensure good infrastructure for the long term. Poorly built golf courses might do okay for the first couple of years but will then go down hill quickly and are something that can result in costly capital outlays and additional spending to fix or maintain for the future.

GCM: How do you work with owners to achieve the optimum golf course condition whilst catering to their desires?

SD: I think these both work hand in hand. Our goals are typically mutual; ownership wants a successful, reputable golf course with healthy returns, just as we do. We have a long-term interest in the golf course and so typically in the best interest of the ownership. Without a doubt good communication is key, it’s imperative we all understand each other and what the effects of our direction and decisions will be. You can not overestimate the importance of good communication.

GCM: What courses that you have worked on really stick in your mind?

SD: I would have to say Monte Rei in Portugal, it’s a Jack Nicklaus signature course on a great piece of land. The owners have had great vision in creating something very special. Francisco Blazquez, the superintendent there, has been responsible for bringing the high quality playing conditions that are being realised there today.

GCM: How do you co-ordinate your activities across Europe? Is it easy to keep an eye on developments at each course?

SD: I’m in regular contact with the owners and superintendents so in keeping up to speed on the status of each course I can plan around upcoming projects, be it tournament preparation, irrigation installation or a renovation project – occasionally there are challenges that need immediate attention so it can be a matter of just getting on a plane the next day.

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick October 24, 2011 16:41
Write a comment

No Comments

No Comments Yet!

Let me tell You a sad story ! There are no comments yet, but You can be first one to comment this article.

Write a comment
View comments

Write a comment


Join Our Mailing List

Read the latest issues

Advertise With Us

For editorial enquiries in the magazine or online, contact:


For advertising enquiries in the magazine or online, contact: