A pair of course managers who have spent their entire careers working at the same golf clubs have achieved the highest accolade available to UK greenkeepers.
Richard Johnstone of Nairn Dunbar Golf Links in the Scottish Highlands and Paul Brett of The Springs Golf Club in Oxfordshire have become the 86th and 87th BIGGA members to achieve the prestigious Master Greenkeeper Certification.
Master Greenkeeper status is awarded to members of BIGGA who have reached the highest standards of greenkeeping and golf course management. Members must have been working for more than 10 years as a greenkeeper, including three years as a head greenkeeper, course manager or superintendent. They must undertake a three-stage examination process including an assessment of the operations at the golf facility they maintain.
Richard, 39, joined Nairn Dunbar in 2000 straight from school and became course manager in 2016. As BIGGA’s most active member utilising the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme, Richard has achieved more CPD milestones than any other BIGGA member. He has also undertaken a wide range of the opportunities that are made available to BIGGA members, including the BIGGA Delegation to the Golf Industry Show with Bernhard & Company, the John Deere TPC Sawgrass Volunteer Programme and the Future Turf Managers Initiative with Jacobsen.
Paul, 41, joined The Springs in 1997 and was appointed head greenkeeper in 2000, aged just 20. He has since overseen a transitional phase in the club’s history, including a three-year period when the club was put up for sale and he took on general manager duties and operated the on-site shop. In 2017 Darwin Escapes purchased the golf club and hotel and has since invested £20m into the redevelopment of the site, with Paul playing a key role in the redevelopment of the golf course, alongside former Ryder Cup captain Brian Huggett MBE and architect Tim Lobb. On 20 December 2021 Paul will take up a new role as course manager at The West Berkshire GC.
Richard said: “Learning never stops and I am always setting myself new challenges, one of which was to complete the Master Greenkeeper Certificate. It had always been an ambition of mine to become a Master Greenkeeper and I feel so proud to have achieved it at the first attempt. The whole process, from the review of golf course operations to the final examinations, was extremely rewarding for both myself and the team. I’m now looking forward to doing what I can to give back to the industry and help others reach their full potential.”
Paul said: “I had often thought of attempting the Master Greenkeeper process. However, due to being dyslexic and shy, I avoided it. While giving advice to both of my sons in preparation for university and the challenges they faced – being shy themselves – it made me take a look at myself and I decided it was time to practice what I preached. I have really enjoyed all stages of the process and I feel so proud to have my name on a list with so many great guys.”