A selection of the best young greenkeepers in the country descended upon BIGGA HQ at Aldwark Manor in York as the 28th Toro Student Greenkeeper of the Year awards took place.
For the first time ever, the Toro Young Student Greenkeeper of the Year award, open to students up to the age of 20, complimented the Toro Student Greenkeeper of the Year award.
The Toro Student Greenkeeper of the Year Awards is a nationwide contest hosted by greenkeepers’ association BIGGA, turfcare machinery manufacturers Toro, and machinery distributor Reesink Turfcare.
This year’s winner of the Toro Student Greenkeeper award was Jimmy Heritage, 24, of Maylands Golf Club in Romford, Essex.
Jimmy impressed the judging panel, comprised of representatives from BIGGA, Toro and Reesink Turfcare, due to his passion and drive for the greenkeeping industry.
Jimmy said: “I was not expecting to win. When you come to the finals you are surrounded by people who are experts in their field and you certainly don’t consider yourself the best of the bunch. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but I am sure it will eventually.”
As part of his prize, Jimmy wins a seven-week scholarship at the University of Massachusetts in the USA, as well as a trip to the GCSAA’s Golf Industry Show in Orlando and a trip to Toro’s headquarters in Minneapolis.
Twenty-year-old Dan Waring, of Ashbourne Golf Club near Derby, was crowned the winner of the first-ever Toro Young Student Greenkeeper of the Year Award. Dan impressed the judging panel with his humility, drawn from a singular desire to improve the golf course where he has been a member his entire life.
Dan said: “I can’t believe I won, it was that close. It’s still a bit of a shock and I don’t think I have had chance to process it yet. That will probably happen next week, when I am mowing the greens, back at work.”
As part of his prize, Dan wins an all-expenses paid trip to BTME in Harrogate, as well as a two-week work placement at the prestigious Vidauban Golf Club in France.
BIGGA Head of Member Learning Stuart Green said: “Congratulations to Jimmy and Dan, who has become the first ever Toro Young Student Greenkeeper of the Year. The introduction of the new Young award has been a revelation. We have seen some amazing candidates come through and I was blown away by their breadth of knowledge and passion for their roles.
The runner-up in the Toro Student Greenkeeper of the Year Award was David Perdisatt, of Naas Golf Club in County Kildare, Ireland.
The runner-up in the Toro Young Student Greenkeeper of the Year Award was Vincent DeMarzo, of Wildernesse Golf Club in Kent.
BIGGA Chief Executive Officer Jim Croxton said: “Every year the standard keeps getting better and better, and I don’t envy the task of the judges, who had to choose between our fantastic finalists. I am so excited by the amount of talent on show in both awards as it gives me great confidence that the future of golf is in good hands. I am really grateful to our friends at Toro and Reesink for once again supporting these awards.”
David Cole, managing director of Reesink Turfcare and award judge, said: “We are, as ever, proud of our partnership with BIGGA and the legacy of this award, now in its 28th year. But this has been a particularly proud year, with the introduction of the Young award, which ensures we provide a strong platform to recognise talent on all levels within the industry. The evidence of this was reflected in the shortlisted candidates and demonstrates the future of the industry is in safe hands. Both categories were equally as tight because the standards were so high and they were difficult decisions to make. Well done to all in what was a fantastic competition.”
The finals of the awards took place over two days at BIGGA HQ and were judged by a panel comprising representatives from BIGGA, Toro and Reesink Turfcare.
For the Toro Student Greenkeeper finalists, the days included a professional group discussion, exam, essay and a final interview, before the winner was chosen.
The Toro Young Student Greenkeeper finalists were required to complete a hole walk at Aldwark Manor Hotel & Golf Resort. This involved the judges asking questions about their knowledge of course preparation, identifying grasses, pests, weeds and trees and demonstrating an understanding of the key fundamentals in turf management.