Gulf News caught up with the recently appointed new Golf Course Superintendent at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, 32-year-old Richard-Dean Geyer, known as Dean.
How did it all start for you Dean?
I was born and brought up in South Africa and immediately fell in love with sport. Firstly, cricket was my favourite as a fast bowler, but then through too much stress on my lower back, I became more interested in golf. I got to a +2 handicap at my best. Then I joined the African Turf Academy for just over three years in Pretoria, South Africa. This education programme involved playing golf as well as an agronomy element, which I really enjoyed. I achieved the ‘Student of the Year’ Award which gave me the opportunity to visit Elmwood College in St Andrews, Scotland, for four months, a partner of the African Turf Academy. Whilst on this assignment I worked at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at both St Andrews and Kingsbarns. This was great experience seeing tournament course preparation and golf course management in operation at the highest level.
Where was the next step in your career?
I then took up the position of Assistant Superintendent at Silver Lakes Golf and Wildlife Estate in Pretoria where I stayed for three years. We hosted the South African Amateur Championship and during my time there we won the best golf course award for the region in 2013-2014. I then moved to Kuwait, following my love of all sports and having a passion for growing grass, and built, as well as maintained 23 football pitches and consulted on the Sahara Kuwait Golf Resort. I then moved to Bahrain and focused again on grass and football pitch projects.
When did you come to the UAE?
I arrived in Dubai in 2019 working for the Desert Group and working on grass projects at both Emirates Hills and Atlantis, The Palm. I was then involved in the Yas Acres, Abu Dhabi golf course and eventually its grow-in and maintenance, which we understand will open soon. At the 9-hole floodlit golf course at Al Ruwais, Abu Dhabi under the ownership of ADNOC, I was involved in the construction and grow-in which has been designed by English golf course designer Jon Hunt. This again, I understand, is slated to open very soon.
You are now Golf Course Superintendent at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. Congratulations on this appointment and tell us about your role here?
I have only been here a week or so, but I have been so impressed with the size of the estate as well as its ambitions. We are all excited to be hosting the 2021 Women’s Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in early November. I have a number of significant projects I am planning which includes the enhancement of the 9-hole Garden Course which has current challenges with the high-water table levels. There is also the Abu Dhabi Golf Academy as part of our Abu Dhabi Golf Club Practice Facilities which is already under construction. I am also going to be involved in cooperation with The Westin Hotel, landscaping and grass features around the Hotel, all under the same ownership. There are also discussions of expanding the golf offering at Abu Dhabi Golf Club including a floodlit Par 3 course, we will see where that takes us.
What is your style of agronomy?
My agronomy style is to be nature friendly, be organic and follow geo-sustainable practices. I am not a fan of the use of chemicals, unless it is to eliminate disease or insect infestation. I still consider myself a sportsman and golfer and I also plan to play the golf courses here at Abu Dhabi Golf Club to fully appreciate the playability of the grass, lies and firmness or otherwise on and of the fairways and roughs and the texture of the sand in the bunkers from the golfer’s perspective. The club has already signed up to the GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf programme which will be aligned with both agronomy as well as the Golf Club operations, which I fully support. My final comment is, I will always try and deliver the best conditioned golf course 12 months a year for our Members and all our golfers, mindful of the essential need for renovations and ongoing maintenance as well as the harsh summer climate of the UAE.