STRI issues final call to golf clubs to enter environment awards as its CEO retires

Rosemary Ayim
By Rosemary Ayim August 7, 2015 15:51

STRI, the world’s leading sports turf consultancy, has issued a final call to golf clubs for entries to the 2016 STRI Golf Environment Awards (GEA).

And it is doing this on the same day that its chief executive has announced he is to retire.

02-04 STRI GEA Winners_Portugal

The 2014 winners in Portugal

The prestigious awards, which reward both individuals and golf courses for their commitment to environmentally sustainable projects, are free to enter and open to clubs of all sizes and from all regions across the UK.

The awards recognise the individual golf courses and course professionals who are managing all types of environmental projects; these include projects focusing on waste, recycling, habitat improvements, wildlife protection, water management and effective turfgrass management.

“If you have established and are managing any similar project on your golf course then you should nominate your club for an award now,” said a spokesman.

There are three winning categories to enter; Environmental Golf Course of the Year; Conservation Greenkeeper Award and Outstanding Environmental Project of the Year. Originally launched in 1997, the awards continue to be supported by Justin Rose, the US Open Championship 2013 winner, winning Ryder Cup team member and official ambassador of the Golf Environment Awards.

The coveted awards are also supported by a group of sponsors committed to supporting and promoting proven sustainable projects within golf clubs. These include Greenkeeping magazine, along with Wiedenmann, Tillers Turf, Ransomes Jacobsen, Farmura, Syngenta, Golf Monthly, Operation Pollinator and BIGGA.

02-04 Royal St Davids

Royal St Davids

There will be 24 golf clubs shortlisted for the awards, each of which will receive a visit from an STRI consultant, who will assess your project/s and provide advice and support for further projects and future environmental focus for your club and course.

Bob Taylor, STRI’s senior consultant, environment and ecology, said: “This is a great opportunity for golf clubs to show the rest of the UK what they have achieved in setting up projects, no matter how big or small they are. We’ve already received some great entries for the 2016 awards so this is the last chance for courses and clubs to get their entries in. I would encourage everyone to get involved and help raise the awareness of the good work golf is doing for the environment.”

The current award winners for 2015 are:

  • Environmental Golf Course of the Year – Royal St David’s Golf Club, Harlech in North Wales
  • Conservation Greenkeeper of the Year – John Kelly, Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Southport in Lancashire
  • Outstanding Environmental Project of the Year – Hockley Golf Club, Twyford in Hampshire

The winners each year receive a trip to Europe with the chance to visit some of the world’s leading golf facilities and sites of specific ecological interest. The previous winners enjoyed a trip to Portugal in March as part of their prize and attended the GEA Champagne reception at Wentworth in May, along with the finalists, sponsors and STRI staff.

The announcement comes as STRI’s chief executive, Dr Gordon McKillop, has announced his intention to retire at Easter in 2016. Gordon has held the position since July 2000 and joined STRI from, what was then, the Central Science Laboratory (CSL), a DEFRA agency.

02-04 Gordon McKillop2

Gordon McKillop

During the 1990s, whilst still at CSL, Gordon worked closely with STRI on a number of projects and so, when the vacancy for a new chief executive was announced, he decided to apply. He is very keen on sport and to combine science with sport in a business context appeared to be the dream job, which it has turned out to be. He considers himself to have been incredibly lucky to have been able to manage a business such as STRI, to have been behind the scenes of many sporting events at local, national and international levels and to have worked as part of a dedicated, knowledgeable and incredibly enthusiastic team.

“When I started, I told the interview panel that I had three aims for the business: to develop more scientifically and technically based services, to make the business more commercially orientated and to raise the STRI brand to an international level. I am pleased to look back and know I have taken the business some way down each of these three roads.”

Gordon considers the highlights from his term in office include growing the core UK business throughout the recession, especially the consultancy and research services associated with golf. Winning contracts with UEFA, FIFA and the London Olympics were major first time achievements. A further highlight would be STRI’s research team now utilising their expertise to develop innovative services and products, which are helping STRI to diversify in an increasingly competitive market. STRI becoming successfully established in Australia would be another marked achievement. This has enabled STRI to undertake research on warm season grasses and to develop its services in Australasia, helping considerably to expand STRI’s knowledge and expertise internationally. Finally, STRI winning a number of local and national awards for its achievements and receiving those awards with and on behalf of his colleagues have been very proud moments for him.

“On a more personal level,” Gordon adds, “it would be making many friendships and good business relationships throughout the industry in many parts of the world. I have always believed that good business is best achieved through good relationships, trust and integrity and would like to think that I have put this philosophy into practice. Finally, I was delighted to be awarded an Honorary Degree by Myerscough College, which I consider to be a particular highlight for me.”

02-04 Gordon outside STRI Head Office_UK (853x1280)

Gordon will be succeeded by Mark Godfrey, who has been with STRI for 10 years and is currently STRI’s Financial Director and Managing Director of STRI in Australia; he will return from Australia in December 2015. This internal succession, along with similar succession plans for Australia, will ensure there will be smooth handovers throughout the next nine months. Mark Godfrey and the other STRI Directors will continue developing and delivering the current business strategy to ensure the on-going success of STRI into the future.

Entries to the 2016 STRI Golf Environment Awards should be submitted by Friday 14 August. Entry is free and details can be found on the website


Rosemary Ayim
By Rosemary Ayim August 7, 2015 15:51
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