Alejandro Reyes: Thirty French golf courses we reviewed (1/2)

What happened to Alejandro Reyes? Today’s Le Golf National 2018 Ryder Cup Supervisor is one of the most sought-after agricultural engineering consultants. He gave us an exclusive long interview to discuss his career while returning to the present and future challenges of land conservation.

In this first part, Alejandro briefly reviews his life-changing Le Golf National experience before discussing his current work at his TAS company.

In 2013, she responded to ffgolf’s invitation to become the supervisor of Le Golf National. Young, unknown and inexperienced, you won the piece! Looking back, how do you explain that?

Young but not inexperienced! I studied at Nicklaus Design, but it is true that others have more experience. I don’t know what to tell you, it’s tough…I probably best suit the profile of a dynamic person who was particularly passionate about the job, ready to give everything for Le Golf National. I managed to convey my enthusiasm.

There is one detail that will tip the scales in your favour…

Uh! The story of the French? yes. My first interview usually took place in English. Then, in the shortlist of five candidates, only one French speaker was left. Then I could think of learning French in record time… It was very risky because you can imagine my level! (Alejandro now speaks good French with a Pedro Delgado accent, very “Yawny Jersey”). The HR department made it clear to me that for ethical reasons, if we start like this, we should end it in French… I answered yes and then the jury looked at each other in a voice that said, Hot guy! It went very well, better than I could have imagined!

Were you hired right away?

Oh no, like any French executive, I had a trial period! It finished at the 2013 French Open. There too, and frankly, it went really well… thanks to a tight-knit and motivated team.

What was the most difficult task completed in six years at the National?

Identify real needs at the outset, with no room for error. Imagine if the patriot had undergone a job that would have been useless! The specs still state a fairly tight budget and things should be done well.

What is your role today in the National Olympics 2024?

I have the role of agricultural advisor to the teams and especially Lucas Perry, the current supervisor who was my assistant during the Ryder. Fantastic professional. Once I come back, I feel happy, I feel at home. I want to be supportive of the teams, to motivate them by giving them an assurance of security and serenity. For the 2024 Olympics, I don’t see any particular concerns, we have to work constantly and deliver our journey as high as possible for the athletes.

Imagine having to prepare a National 2018 with 2025 Environmental Restrictions (less water and zero phytosanitary products). Was the result the same?

At the risk of surprising you, we would have done almost everything the same. The sustainable concept of the ecological approach was chosen from the start: waste water recovery, water retention basin, irrigation system renewal… On the other hand, I was skeptical about making a change in weeds over greens. I also recommended it, but the European Tour, which had a say in the Ryder Cup, did not want to risk a change: 95% of the greens in the “Ryder Courses” were until then in the Bluegrass annually and this always went well.

And zero veto?

Of course, the lack of vegetation would have been a serious additional constraint on the quality of the greens, tees and fairways… The Ryder Cup had to be played with some weeds in the trails…

With zero veto, Ryder had played with some weeds on the fairways…

What offers did you receive after Rider?

Without wanting to give names, I was given a very nice offer from a respected course in the US, and in Asia too…just about everywhere after all! But you know, after working at that level at National, it’s hard to receive such motivating proposals.

In fact, you already have a clear idea of ​​your future…

Imagine I already knew this when I started at National… Early in 2013, I was planning to build my company with Sylvain Duval Who is none other than my teacher. The largest French consultant in the world. Sylvain was also contacted by ffgolf for the Ryder Cup but was not free. However, he suggested a name: Lee. So it was really clear in my head, unless the 2018 Ryder was a failure. In this case, I would have stayed.

Today you are a consultant within your company…

I am associated with Sylvain Duval within our company TAS (Turfgrass Agronomy & Services). Until then, he had always refused to join, but one day I told him: “Do you want to become number one in Europe in agronomy in golf?”. And now, we’re on our way to winning our bet! TAS is already present in 13 countries in Europe. We also have a strong presence in North Africa and the Middle East.

It is true that your staff seems very dense!

We are growing slowly but surely. We are fortunate to rely on 10 professionals spread over several countries. For us, the priority is to stay close to our customers and respond quickly to difficulties. In this sense, we bought an irrigation design office (French company Imagineur). Accurate and efficient cycle irrigation is a priority in our business.

What do you offer exactly?

We are a professional agricultural advice company for artificial turf sports surfaces, more specifically the maintenance, design, renovation and construction of golf courses. We also provide audit and advisory services to clubs that want to know the amount of investment to be made.

I’m proud to bring fame to the hostess’ work

The Reyes name makes it easy to get contracts! Did you know that you are undoubtedly the star of the green owners?

In the eyes of the general public, I am no one. But in our small world it is true that I have gained notoriety thanks to the work that has been done at National Golf. Since I started, I’ve worked a lot for the recognition of our profession, which has often been in the shadows. I have been active on social networks to explain, to show that we also work as a team. It’s one of the changes I’m most proud of.

So what budget do you need to “pay” Reyes?

Ahhh… Our company offers several types of interventions. Generally, for one year standard agricultural advice, we visit the site every three months, make a very detailed agricultural plan and provide regular assistance by videoconferencing. This contract is just under €12,000 per year (excluding travel expenses).

alejandro-reyes-tas © DR

What is your current client portfolio?

We currently have 80 contracts and our clients are international. We just signed a big project in Vietnam for example. France is our main market: about thirty French golf courses consult us.

Obviously, these are not only prestigious golf courses …

No, and I want it more because work is different and sometimes less restrictive! Some high end golf courses have extended management that does not facilitate decision making and some members think they know more than the advisor! It is clear that other golf courses do not have the means to realize their ambition: the wishes of the management committee are not realistic. So our role is no longer only agricultural, but also their guidance in the general policy of the club. We give them realism, which often allows agents to have more resources. Management often needs an outside eye that will provide them with the right argument for investment.

We bring more resources to field hosts

Do you play golf?

Yes, it is important that you play not as good as me (index 18.5). It is important to imagine the different shots and put yourself in all the situations of the game! I often have two or three balls in my pocket and throw them in to see how they react on the court.

But this ain’t golf, this is baseball!

Stop…you see what I mean…it is important to see the effect of the ball on the green, its holes that will affect mowing, the hardness of the sand in the bunkers to assess its maintenance, the difficulty…

In the second part of the interview, Alejandro Reyes will discuss tomorrow’s challenges in terms of maintenance, starting with the future trajectory of the 2023 Ryder Cup, for which he serves as a permanent advisor.

alejandroreyes © DR

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