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Sprig marks and hard driving at Claudelands

The importance of change and the challenges faced by turf-based sports were discussed at the New Zealand Turf Association Conference and Trade Show on 17-18 June at Claudelands Conference and Exhibition Centre.

The biennial conference about everything turf, grounds and grass had specialist meetings for managers of surfaces for golf, cricket, bowls, public reserves and sports fields.

Australasia’s leading club membership specialist Belinda Moore, the key note speaker, challenged conference attendees about the decline of club membership and its impact on sports nationwide, especially over the next 20 years.

Moore said that sporting organisations needed to abandon antiquated models of recruiting, retaining and engaging members, and embrace flexibility and change now if they wanted to survive.

Adelaide Oval curator Damian Hough also spoke, talking of the changes he has overseen since taking over from the legendary Les Burdett in 2010.

The famous oval is currently undergoing a half billion dollar redevelopment and Hough is preparing the oval’s first drop-in wickets for the grounds. The entire project is due for completion by this summer’s December Ashes test match.

Hough is also working towards the 2015 Cricket World Cup, which will be co-hosted between Australia and New Zealand. A potential viewing audience of a billion people means that pitch performance will be a closely scrutinised aspect of the tournament.

Adapting to new challenges was also a theme for speakers Martin Sheppard, a surfaces expert, and the International Rugby Board’s technical specialist Leanne Walsh. Sheppard and Walsh explored the “one turf” concept, which allows many sports to be played on the same long grass surface.

With four separate conference streams for delegates representing bowls, cricket, golf and sports fields and an exhibition to boot, the Claudelands venue coped admirably with the New Zealand Turf Association’s conference.

“Claudelands is a sophisticated and versatile venue,” said conference Project Manager, Melanie Walker. "It is popular with both delegates and conference staff," Walker added.

Hamilton City’s Event Facilities Director of Business Development, Murray Jeffrey says it was great to welcome the New Zealand Turf Association conference back to Claudelands.

“The New Zealand economy has been founded on our ability to grow grass and the Waikato region lies at the centre of that knowledge and experience,” says Jeffrey. "Hamilton has some of the best turf surfaces in the country," Jeffrey adds.

“The turf conference brings more than 400 delegates from across New Zealand into our city to enjoy our facilities, learn about the latest developments of professional turf culture and take home a great message about what they learnt in Hamilton,” he says.