Gulf News met the newly appointed golf course manager 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 raised in South Africa and immediately fell in love with the sport. First, cricket was my favorite as a fast bowler, but then because of too much stress on my lower back I got more into golf. I have reached a handicap of +2 at my best. Then I joined the African Turf Academy for a little over three years in Pretoria, South Africa. This educational program included the practice of golf as well as an agronomic element, which I really appreciated. I got the âStudent of the Yearâ award which gave me the opportunity to visit Elmwood College in St Andrews, Scotland, for four months, partner of the African Turf Academy. During this assignment I worked at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in St Andrews and Kingsbarns. It was a great experience to see tournament course preparation and golf course management operating at the highest level.
What was the next step in your career?
I then held the position of Assistant Superintendent at the Silver Lakes Golf and Wildlife Estate in Pretoria where I stayed for three years. We hosted the South African Amateur Championship and while I was there we won the award for the best golf course in the region in 2013-14. I then moved to Kuwait, following my love for all sports and my passion for growing weed, and I built, maintained 23 football pitches and consulted on the Sahara Kuwait Golf Resort. I then moved to Bahrain and again focused on turf and football field projects.
When did you come to the United Arab Emirates?
I came to Dubai in 2019 to work for the Desert Group and work on grass projects at Emirates Hills and Atlantis, The Palm. I was then involved in the Yas Acres Golf Course in Abu Dhabi and then in its growth and maintenance, which we understand will open soon. At ADNOC’s 9-hole illuminated Al Ruwais Golf Course in Abu Dhabi, I participated in the construction and expansion which was designed by English golf course designer Jon Hunt. This again, I understand, should open very soon.
You are now the Golf Course Superintendent at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. Congratulations on this nomination and tell us about your role here?
I’ve only been here for about a week, but I was so impressed with the size of the estate as well as its ambitions. We are all delighted to host the 2021 Asia-Pacific Women’s Amateur Championship in early November. I have a number of important projects I’m planning, including improving the 9-hole garden course, which presents current challenges with the high water table levels. There is also the Abu Dhabi Golf Academy as part of our Abu Dhabi Golf Club training facility which is already under construction. I will also be involved in the cooperation with the Westin hotel, the landscaping and the grass elements around the hotel, all under the same ownership. There are also talks about expanding the golf offering at Abu Dhabi Golf Club including an illuminated Par 3 course, we’ll see where that takes us.
What is your style of agronomy?
My agronomic style is to be respectful of nature, to be organic and to follow geo-sustainable practices. I am not a fan of using chemicals, unless it is to eliminate a disease or an insect infestation. I still consider myself a sportsman and a golfer and I also intend to play the golf courses here at Abu Dhabi Golf Club to fully appreciate the playability of the grass, lies and firmness or whatever on and fairways and roughs and the texture of the sand in the bunkers from a golfer’s point of view. The club has already joined the GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf program which will be aligned with both agronomy and the functioning of the Golf Club, which I fully support. My final comment is that I will always try to provide the best conditioned golf course 12 months a year for our members and all golfers considering the critical need for ongoing renovations and maintenance as well as the harsh summer climate of the Emirates. United Arabs.