The R&A’s Greenkeeping Scholarship Programme continues to grow across the world to support the development of ambitious greenkeepers – with their work perhaps never more important.
Thanks to the success of The Open, The R&A can invest in such programmes to provide direct assistance to greenkeepers and support the future sustainability of the sport.
The Programme provides a financial contribution towards higher education and unique opportunities for successful candidates in greenkeeping/sports turf management courses at SRUC Elmwood in Scotland, Myerscough College in England and CAFRE in Northern Ireland.
Since its inception in 2004, the Greenkeeping Scholarship Programme has continued to stretch far and wide and now boasts 395 Scholars from 37 different countries – from Canada to New Zealand and South Africa to Iceland. The programme was also recently launched in Australia, with six scholarships awarded to students at Melbourne Polytechnic.
The global reach of the programme can be viewed via this map to highlight the various locations.
Most Scholars now study through distance learning whilst working as full-time greenkeepers or course managers to enhance both their learning experiences and career prospects.
Steve Isaac, Director – Sustainability at The R&A, said, “We are delighted with the sustained growth of the Greenkeeping Scholarship Programme, now numbering almost 400 Scholars.
“The R&A recognises the key role of greenkeepers in preparing courses for play and in taking care of the natural environment which forms such an important part in the enjoyment of a round of golf.”
In challenging times during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, greenkeepers are working harder than ever on a global scale to maintain courses either open or closed.
They are looking after all types of courses in different areas of the world and in different seasons. Within the respective guidelines of national government, many are doing this work alone or in reduced teams, working less hours and facing daily challenges in doing essential maintenance.
Wendy Cole, who manages the scholarship programme as part of Isaac’s sustainability team, has been communicating with many Scholars to assess what they are facing and provide support during an incredibly challenging period for all greenkeepers across the industry.
Isaac added, “It has been pleasing to make contact with many of The R&A Greenkeeping Scholars during the coronavirus crisis. While many are facing difficult situations across the world, their challenges are similar and we are offering support where we can to help them feel less alone and help them fulfil their key roles.
“Many national golf governing bodies and greenkeeper associations have guidelines in place for greenkeeping during this crisis and our Scholars are all working with great dedication and professionalism.
“Together, with their greenkeeping colleagues, they are working hard to achieve sustainable course development and management, protect the enjoyment of the game and safeguard the financial operations of golf facilities.”
In addition to direct financial assistance available to appointed Scholars, those selected can also access a number of exclusive networking and continuing professional development opportunities which further enhance industry exposure and employability.
For further information on The R&A Greenkeeping Scholarship Programme, please get in touch at GKScholars@randa.org or visit: https://www.randa.org/en/sustainability/services/greenkeeping-support