David Golding has been described as the unsung hero of greenkeeper education, but after being presented with the Outstanding Contribution Award sponsored by Baroness at the BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition (BTME), that’s no longer the case.
Hosted by the British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) on the opening evening of BTME, the BIGGA Welcome Celebration sponsored by Origin Amenity Solutions also saw wins for Abridge Golf Club in Essex and Strathaven Golf Club in South Lanarkshire.
In a career spanning more than 50 years, David drove educational opportunities for greenkeepers to new heights. Possessing a passion for education and desire to improve development opportunities for his peers in greenkeeping, David’s encyclopaedic knowledge of the industry helped lay foundations that continue to bear fruit to this day as proven with the recent establishment of the Level 5 greenkeeping apprenticeship and the continued development of the Level 2 and 3 qualifications.
David began his career as an apprentice greenkeeper at Buxton & High Peak Golf Club in his home town. He spent two years as an assistant greenkeeper at Camberley Heath Golf Club in Surrey before returning north, firstly to Dore & Totley Golf Club in Sheffield. Aged just 21, he then got his first head greenkeeper role, working with Trafford Borough Council in a position that over the following 16 years would see him take responsibility for two busy municipal golf courses.
Upon the formation of BIGGA in 1987, David was appointed the association’s first Northern regional administrator. In 1989 he became BIGGA’s first education officer and then in 1993 he became education director of the Greenkeepers Training Committee, a position he would hold until his retirement.
The BIGGA Welcome Celebration is held on the opening night of BTME, the hugely-influential trade show and education programme for golf greenkeepers, and sees members of BIGGA honoured for their achievements throughout the previous year.
At the BIGGA Welcome Celebration, the winner of the Championship Greenkeeping Performance Award sponsored by Bernhard and Company was revealed to be Abridge Golf Club.
Abridge is a private members’ club in Essex, where Course Manager Geoff Smith and his team were tasked with preparing the course for its first ever EuroPro Tour event in June and July 2022. In hosting the EuroPro Tour’s PDC Championship, the greenkeeping team overcame challenges including one of the driest summers on record, the ‘grow-in’ of a massive, newly-constructed irrigation lake and working around general play during the continuing golf boom. PGA officials remarked they had never seen such dedication to producing a course for a championship and in his closing address, the CEO of EuroPro stated that Abridge was one of the best venues they had ever been to.
The other finalists in this category were Minchinhampton Golf Club and St Annes Old Links Golf Club.
Also revealed on the evening, the Greenkeeping Project Award sponsored by Sports Turf Data Solutions was presented to the team at Strathaven Golf Club.
In 2019, Strathaven was forced to stop playing its 7th hole, to avoid golf balls entering a neighbouring property. Head Greenkeeper Stephen Hunter suggested redesigning the hole to become a par-3 that aimed away from the boundary of the site. In order to maintain the par of the course, Stephen also suggested extending the 9th hole to become a par-4. His vision was accepted by the management committee and the club began a two-year project. The six-strong home greenkeeping team carried out the design and construction themselves, with the project being completed in April 2022.
The other finalists in this category were Astbury Golf Club and Prestwick Golf Club.
You can view an in-depth look at the winning entries and all the other finalists on the BIGGA website.
BIGGA CEO Jim Croxton said: “My congratulations go to the greenkeeping teams at Abridge and Strathaven for their wonderful achievements throughout 2022. Their accomplishments are testament to the ability of BIGGA members to exceed everyday expectations, with no small dose of imagination, creativity and hard work.
“Congratulations also to David Golding, a former colleague who I have long admired and who I was delighted we were able to recognise in this way. David was a crusader for the recognition of greenkeeper education standards and he was undoubtedly one of the most influential people in the history of the greenkeeping industry, in terms of bringing the professionalism of greenkeeper training forwards. At heart he was always a greenkeeper who believed that education was key to improving the profession for his fellow practitioners.”
Fiona Lyttle, Learning and Development Executive – The GTC, worked alongside David from 2000 until his retirement and said: “Working with David, you picked up his passion and dedication to make sure greenkeepers had the right training and education to enable them to further their careers and aim for the top. His work has been the bedrock of all that we do now and for him to be honoured in this way is fantastic and long overdue.”
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