Huw Morgan, course manager of Wildernesse Golf Club, in Sevenoaks, has become the 2001 champion greenkeeper, after winning the prestigious Toro Award for Excellence in Greenkeeping.
He joins an elite group of four other top British and Irish greenkeepers who have carried off the coveted title since the awards, sponsored by Toro and run by BIGGA, were introduced in 1997.
Huw’s prize is an all-expenses-paid trip to February’s Golf Course Superintendents Association of America Conference and Show in Orlando, Florida, and visits to the Minneapolis headquarters of the award sponsors Toro and its irrigation division in California. He also wins a Toro Workman 2100 utility vehicle for his club and £250 for his greenkeeping team.
“I was sure one of the other finalists was going to win. When the words ‘Huw Morgan’ came out of the announcer’s mouth I virtually passed out. Surprised was not the word; I just could not believe it,” said Huw. “Although I’ve won this award I wouldn’t class myself as being at the top of the profession but it can be a massive step up for me in my career as long as I go with the flow and keep on doing what I’ve been doing for the last couple of years.”
Graham Dale, managing director of Lely UK, Toro’s distributor for turf machinery, said: “Each year the quality available for the judges to pick from becomes higher and higher, a real sign that the industry is in good health and that the golf courses of Great Britain and Ireland are in safe hands. Huw will make a fine ambassador for the greenkeeping industry for the next 12 months.”
Since moving to Wildernesse in 1993, Huw has assembled what he describes as a “fantastic team” who will benefit with the cheque for £250 as part of his prize. This recognises that success in the Toro competition is not down totally to the individual.
Huw won the award after first winning through the combined England and Wales final last summer, before facing a distinguished interview panel at the national final. Here the 35-year-old Welshman emerged from a strong group of finalists which included Alan Purdie, head greenkeeper of Crail Golfing Society, who won the Scottish final; David Murdoch MG, course manager of Liphook Golf Club, Huw’s fellow finalist from England and Wales; and Alan Strachan, head greenkeeper of Royal County Down GC, the Irish champion.