by Alistair Beggs, STRI Head of Agronomy
After 37 years of first-class service Stuart Ormondroyd has finally hung up his auger. He has been part of the furniture at STRI for my entire career and his retirement will be felt across the turf industry.
Stuart graduated from University of Sussex with a degree in Plant Biology. He joined the grounds management team at STRI’s Bingley headquarters in 1980, but quickly progressed to the agronomy team within two years.
One of Stuart’s first consultations was at Wembley Stadium, who were trying to prepare the pitch for the Charity Shield, as it was then known. The surface had seen better days, and was suffering the aftermath of a Rolling Stones concert during which all manner of human detritus had been deposited on the turf surface. Mass resignations from the Wembley groundstaff left Stuart in charge of preparing the UK’s premier football surface for one of the calendar’s biggest showpiece matches. I can’t remember what the pitch was like for the 1982 Charity Shield, but it is a reflection on Stuart’s ability that he managed to salvage a good outcome from a dire situation.
Stuart’s career moved away from football (although he continues to follow the fortunes of Bradford City FC), and towards golf. Stuart became official agronomist to The R&A in 1986 and took charge of support for the 1998 Open at Royal Birkdale. He was involved in every Open since then, having become STRI senior agronomist in 1994 and head of agronomy in 1997. Working for The R&A has been a real highlight of Stuart’s career and he considers himself very privileged to have worked so closely with golf’s greatest major and so many fantastic individuals along the way.
My abiding memory of Stuart is his seeing him in a semi-clothed, saturated state after a stint on the tools during the 2015 Open at St Andrews. The Friday morning of that Open will live long in everyone’s memory, for the deluges and delays that prevailed, but seeing Stuart afterwards in the STRI cabin in his smalls was a sight to behold. I don’t think any of us who were there have ever recovered from the experience!
Stuart retires having gained the respect of many in our industry and the admiration of all his colleagues at STRI over the years. We will miss him. We wish him well and hope he enjoys a long and happy retirement.