In October 2019, EnvoyGolf's first international greens staff arrived in Sydney, starting their adventure and bringing to life the concept of EnvoyGolf. After that first placement, EnvoyGolf brought in 16 more greens staff from Sweden and Norway to work at 11 clubs across three states. Placements were made into Avondale, Cape Wickham Links, Ellerston, Killara, Mona Vale, New South Wales, Royal Queensland, Strathfield, Terrey Hills, The Australian, and Twin Creeks Golf Clubs.
This could only have come about with the cooperation and strong support of the Swedish Greenkeepers Association and their CEO Goran Tyrsing. We were able to collaborate in finding job opportunities for their younger members over winter, when they would otherwise be unemployed. His efforts, alongside the buy-in and support of the golf clubs’ Superintendents here, together made our vision a reality. These Superintendents took a leap of faith in appointing young men and women from the other side of the world, as did those same young men and women who came from the other side of the world to prove their judgement right!
As our photo gallery and testimonials evidence, our first season was a great success. With this pilot programme, EnvoyGolf helped solve the need for additional crew members on Australian golf courses over the summer growing season. At the same time, we successfully provided jobs and a memorable international experience for young Scandinavian greenkeepers while their courses back home were closed for winter. Through that first season in the summer of 2019/2020, we learned a great deal about where and how to improve the experience for both golf clubs and greens staff.
The plan for the 2020-2021 season was to ramp up the numbers considerably, hoping that Covid-19 related constraints on international travel will have relaxed sufficiently to allow us to operate. Many clubs, including the ones involved this year, had already expressed their interest in participating in our second season, and our first year's participants are enthusiastic proponents of the experience to colleagues back home.
Unfortunately, as the Covid-19 virus rampaged around the world enforcing strict border closures, our plans were halted.
As the sore need for summer casual staff was still impacting golf clubs in Australia this 2021 summer, EnvoyGolf refocused efforts domestically. We managed to assist in placing a number of locally-based staff into several clubs across Australia, including some new to working with us. Many of these people have been new to working on a golf course, with some now looking to move into the industry full-time, with Superintendents who are similarly keen to employ them beyond the summer growing season.
Moving forward we are planning for the 2021/2022 Australian summer season and bringing in greenkeepers October/November this year, hoping that international travel is up and operational by then. We are also working with our Scandinavian counterparts to look at placing greenkeepers out of Australia and New Zealand into Scandinavia for their summer season starting in May/June this year. As they share the same staffing problem as our golf clubs here in terms of heavier summer workloads, we look forward to alleviating this issue, and simultaneously providing invaluable work experience to our domestic greens staff with unique overseas opportunities.
While we understand that these international travel restrictions are unpredictable, and may not be lifted soon enough for these plans to be enacted, we intend to be ready and will work towards the best possible scenario regardless. Therefore, EnvoyGolf will be sourcing roles in Finland and Sweden for candidates in Australia and New Zealand, and supporting golf clubs in Australia and New Zealand, and internationally, as best we can.