The Bernhard BIGGA delegation to GIS this year will include the 100th British delegate to make the trip to the U.S. in February to visit the largest golf industry show in the world.
This unique opportunity, open to all BIGGA members, was set up in 2001 by Bernhard & Company of Rugby. The BIGGA delegation was the idea of Stephen Bernhard, the Company Chairman, who wanted to put something back into the industry and continue to forge stronger links between BIGGA and the GCSAA.
“I’ve always been keen to invest in the career development of British greenkeepers and to foster education and exchange activities in this market.”
Bernhard have been key players in the world of golf and agronomy for over 50 years and now sell grinders to some of the most prestigious and well-maintained courses around the world.
Peter Wood, Chief Operating Officer of Bernhard & Company, said: “We are always very excited to accompany the ten delegates on this trip. It confirms just how important this type of sponsorship is – and how valuable the experience is to each and every one of the party. As an industry, I think that we all benefit.”
Talking to past delegates it is not hard to understand why.
Rob Sandilands, Head Greenkeeper/Course Manager, Grange over Sands Golf Club in Cumbria, was on the 2011 trip last year to Orlando. He said the experience was exceptional in his career development and in his understanding of the whole industry.
“It is rare to get the opportunity to spend such an extended period of time with so many other people in the industry. I picked up so many useful down to-earth tips and pointers from chatting to people; it was fascinating to hear and see how things are done in the USA and to compare notes. I met so many people with new ideas and we shared experiences, and I also made a lot of new friends and contacts.
“The trip was a very important part of my career and I think it helped my confidence and certainly my overall knowledge of the industry worldwide. I am enormously grateful to Bernhard & Company for giving me this opportunity.
“The ten guys this year stand to gain so much experience. I don’t think I fully appreciated just how much I earned from it until I got back to theUK. I wish them all the best and hope that they find the trip as life changing and fascinating as I did.”
Les Howkins, Course Manager at Richmond Golf Club, who travelled with the Bernhard delegation to San Diego in 2004 says he still feels the benefits of the trip eight years on. “I still think about the seminars, particularly the lecture on ‘Managing Plant Stress, Heat and Cold Tolerance’. I didn’t know it then but is was two or three years ahead of its time.
“The most important things for me that came from the trip were getting to meet so many new guys, many of which I still keep in touch with and the exchange and information through the seminars and lectures, and just talking about the way people look at the industry, their machinery, chemical use and sustainability. The trip was so much better than I had ever imagined.
“My advice to this year’s delegates is this: ‘If you have a question, ask it. You get one chance, surrounded by all those experts and experienced people from USA, Canada, Australia, all over, so take the opportunity while it is there.”
Andrew Mellon, BIGGA Chairman, is proud of the industry, its attitude to helping one another and the people who apply for the Delegation. He said: “All the applicants are worthy, all of them are ambitious men ad the selection process is hard. We have a lot of applicants and the competition is tough. I’m glad that I am not on the selection panel.
“Bernhard’s team put together a great package and it gives the delegates a much wider view of the industry as a whole – and certainly broadens their horizons. Many of the delegates work in fairly small teams most of the time, and so this opportunity to be amongst Greenkeepers, Superintendents and Course Managers from all over the world is an eye-opener to everyone from the most experienced to the apprentices.”
Golf Industry Show www.golfindustryshow.com
Bernhard & Company Ltd www.bernhard.co.uk