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October 2004

European Golf Machinery

on Tour with IMG

Adrian Yallop of EGM talks to GRN about the work behind the European Tour practice facilities

European Golf Machinery, based in Ipswich, Suffolk has been managing major practice grounds for International Management Group, better known as IMG since the early 1990’s. They now run the practice grounds for several of the big European Tour and Ladies Tour events each year, including the recent Heritage event at Woburn. For events not attended by EGM they provide the IMG with 3 sets of collecting machinery.

Adrian Yallop, of European Golf explains:

“IMG contacted us to look after the requirements of the players practice grounds in 1991 and we have supplied a team of staff and all the equipment for these events ever since. The tournaments only run from Thursday to Sunday, but we have to be on site from the Sunday prior to the event, so those players who arrive early can work on their game before the event. We have to stay on until the event is completely finished on Sunday, this can sometimes stretch on until Monday, if there has been a rain delay. IMG are excellent clients but the events are hard work, with the practice ground needing to be open anytime from 5.45am ‘til dusk. One can only admire the dedication and determination of players who work on their game, for as long as it takes, whatever the conditions, to be as sharp as possible for the event.

At each venue a complete supply of brand new balls is delivered and the EGM team have to collect, wash and distribute the balls to the players without getting in the way of those vital warm up sessions before a crucial round. At most of the tournaments these days, Titleist ProV1’s are supplied, but at some events, several manufacturers balls have been used, which then gives the ball collection team the headache of separating the various brands, so that contracted players can practice with exactly the ball they are using in the event. This may seem unnecessary, but with so much prize money at stake the players and manufacturers demand it.

Collecting golf balls from the range is a relatively easy process, particularly for European Golf with their vast experience, but the tournament practice grounds are almost always a fairway not in use because of the tournament and not permanent ranges. Golf balls get lost and have to be retrieved from adjoining fairways and undergrowth. In the early days golfers were glad just to be able to hit balls before play, without having to send their caddies out to retrieve them, which was always extremely dangerous, particularly at busy times. Now, professionals insist on plenty of space to hit from and the teeing area is always a quality grass tee. At the end of the week, the whole area will need reseeding and often looks completely devastated.

EGM’s Bob Crane, who is the operations co-ordinator, adds, ”We have seen some problems over the years: the grass teeing area is 20 to 30 metres deep and we move the teeline steadily towards the back as the week progresses. With the latest equipment and highest quality balls this 20 to 30 metres can mean that the bottom boundary fence is not able to contain all the driver shots. Also, when we use a range area such as the beautiful and huge first and eighteenth fairways at Sunningdale, including the wooded area between for the Womens British Open, it is quite difficult to keep the limited supply of balls in circulation. Some events are hampered by wind and spectators are not averse to taking the odd souvenir ball home! Our priority is to ensure that golfers always have a good supply of pristine balls to hit.”

It is quite a job transporting all the range equipment to each venue, so European Golf use one of their mini ball washers, which is lighter than the normal version and more compact. A new Kawasaki mule and EGM ball collector are used at all events, and an ATV with trailed ball collector is always on hand as a back up. The Dunhill Links is especially challenging, as a complete set of equipment and necessary personnel is required concurrently at e


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