PGA professional Philip Sparks beat off stiff competition to win the first Toro Student Golf Course Architect Award while runners-up Jeff Young and Jamie Sharp each received the associated Barenbrug Award. The annual competition is open to students studying for a two-year post-graduate diploma course in golf course architecture at Merrist Wood College.
The new award scheme was organised by the British Institute of Golf Course Architects (BIGCA), which in July merged with others to become part of the new European Institute of Golf Course Architects. The award was launched last year in recognition of the important role played by golf course architects in the creation and maintenance of quality courses around the world. With six other finalists, Philip presented a verbal dissertation to judges on his diploma course thesis, as well as his design ideas, detailed drawings and costings for the site of a new golf course near Bournemouth.
The expert judging panel comprised Howard Swan, of BIGCA; Bruce Jamieson and Jeff Anguige, representing Toro turf equipment; Peter Roberts, of Toro irrigation distributor Hydroscape; Paul Johnson, Barenbrug UK; and golf course architects David Williams and Ken Moodie.
The prize was an all-expenses-paid trip to The Toro Company’s world-wide headquarters in Minneapolis, USA, and the Toro Irrigation Division in Riverside, California. During the trip Philip was presented with a trophy by Toro’s Don Masini, managing director for sales in the Americas, Europe and Africa, and Phil Burkhart, international managing director. Philip said: “It’s a great honour to be the first winner of this prestigious award and to be part of promoting the importance of golf course architecture world-wide. My trip to the States was a fantastic experience for me. It gave me a valuable insight into the sheer breadth of the Toro operation, and their hospitality and generosity were exceptional.”
The Barenbrug Award, won by Jeff Young and Jamie Sharp, goes to the student architects demonstrating the best knowledge of golf course grasses, the variety of species and their application for different playing areas. The prize is a tour of the links courses of the east coast of Scotland, which includes a visit to St Andrews with the head of research at Barenbrug’s Dutch Wolfheze breeding station.
Managing director of Barenbrug UK, Paul Johnson, said: “Both winners showed a real understanding of grasses within their golf course design presentations. It was clear they had done a great deal of research. Barenbrug is very pleased to be associated with the education of student architects at this level, and to work with Toro to encourage them in the early stages of their career.”