BIGGA presented three prizes during the BTME Welcome Celebration last Tuesday for Outstanding Contribution, Championship Greenkeeping Performance and Greenkeeping Project of the year.
Outstanding Contribution of the Year sponsored by Jacobsen
A greenkeeper at Chipstead Golf Club in Surrey received a standing ovation at the BIGGA Awards in recognition of his selfless efforts in helping the homeless.
Jack Percival with Textron's Andre Andrade and BIGGA Chairman Scott Reeves
Chipstead deputy course manager Jack Percival, 24 won Outstanding Contribution of the Year after he hosted an event in Croydon on 23 December that provided food and warmth for the homeless during Christmas.
The 24-year-old, who was himself homeless for six months when he was 17, put out an appeal on social media for donations, with a huge number from within the golf industry and the wider world responding.
The work was a huge success, but is just one example of Jack’s incredible efforts to support the homeless and those less fortunate. Each Christmas he had previously made up sandwiches and soup and traveled via bus to Croydon to give out food to the homeless.
He also volunteers weekly with Croydon Nightwatch, which is where a member of staff encouraged him to seek support for the aid he provides at Christmas. Since then, Jack received vanloads of sleeping bags, hygiene essentials and warm clothes, in addition to donations of food, raising national awareness of his campaign.
Jack said, “This is unbelievable, I didn’t think I could cry in front of hundreds of people, it was just brilliant.
"I didn’t do this for an award, I was homeless myself when I was 17 and I did six months on the street. I turned my life around, met my partner, and this is just the start for me. We did a big feed at Christmas and there was one guy who cried because he got a haircut. I saw a guy dance because he got new shoes and you can’t put a price on that.”
BIGGA Chief Executive Officer Jim Croxton said, “When I heard Jack’s story I was absolutely blown away. Having heard what he went through during those six months when he lived on the street and then seeing how he has worked tirelessly in the years since to not only turn his life around but also provide opportunities for others less fortunate, is quite inspirational.
“I’m delighted that we have been able to recognise Jack’s achievements in this small way. He is an incredible young man and I’m proud to call him a member of the association.
“Congratulations also to Amanda Dorans and Carl Flavell, whose incredible stories made them extremely worthy finalists for this award.”
Championship Greenkeeping Performance of the Year sponsored by Rigby Taylor
The greenkeeping team at Harleyford Golf Club in Buckinghamshire were recognised for its incredible performance in preparing the course for The Matchroom Sport Championship.
Harleyford greenkeeping team with Stephen Alderton, marketing manager at Top Green and Chris Clarke, executive chairman of Rigby Taylor
The award came just five years after the club was declared bankrupt. Course manager Craig Earnshaw and members of the Harleyford team accepted the award.
Harleyford has a team of six greenkeepers whose office is 1.5 miles from the golf course – meaning a 15-minute drive from the maintenance facility to the first tee.
The team was not only been commended for its incredible work in preparing the course to a standard worthy of hosting a professional tournament, but the staging of the event didn’t go without incident.
When stormy conditions and heavy rain on the eve of the tournament completely washed out the club’s bunkers, the team worked through the night to replace the sand, with even Craig’s fiancée, Tracy Forth, being enlisted to cut rough and blow fairways.
The tireless efforts of the team paid off and Harleyford has been chosen to again host the PGA EuroPro Tour’s Matchroom Sport Championship once again in 2019.
Craig said: “This is mad, I can’t believe it to be honest. When you look at who I was up against, I am really just a little short for words. I didn’t think we would win. The guys on my team were amazing and they’re a real credit to the golf club.”
Jim Croxton said, "For the club to bounce back from bankruptcy to the hosting of the PGA EuroPro Tour is quite remarkable and to then overcome the stormy conditions that plagued the build-up to the tournament is exceptional. Congratulations to everyone at the club and good luck for 2019!
“Congratulations also to the Gullane Golf Club and Carolina Golf Club teams, who were both worthy finalists after hosting exceptional tournaments during 2018.”
Greenkeeping Project of the Year sponsored by Baroness
BIGGA member Stuart Imeson, general manager and head greenkeeper at Dunstanburgh Castle in Northumbria, rounded off a banner year that saw him become a father for the first time and then be placed in charge of the entire operations at his golf club, by winning the Greenkeeping Project of the Year award.
Stuart Imeson with Adam Butler of Baroness
In addition to taking on parenting duties and embracing his changing role at the golf club, Stuart has continued to provide excellent educational opportunities for fellow BIGGA members through his incredibly-successful Bunker Camp, which was a sell-out in 2018 as greenkeepers from across Europe came together to take part.
Bunker Camp has been running for five years and was initially envisioned as a way for Stuart’s young team - he was only 23 at the time - to interact and network with other like-minded greenkeepers. The camp sees volunteers head to Dunstanburgh Castle to participate in the construction of revetted bunkers over a two-week period, with educational seminars and workshops taking place alongside the practical greenkeeping. More than 250 people have now been involved since the start of the bunker camp and education days.
Stuart said, “To be honest I’m a little bit star struck by the whole thing. If you just look at the standard of people that were up for awards, it’s an amazing achievement. If you look at my three lads, it’s absolutely out of this world to even think we could win something like this.”
Jim Croxton said, “Stuart is a fantastic example of the modern greenkeeper who is both highly-trained and keen to communicate about the work he undertakes to further improve standards across the industry. He has a genuine passion for greenkeeping and to develop the course at Dunstanburgh Castle, but the beauty of the Bunker Camp project has been that it has helped hundreds of golf courses across the region to improve their own standards, which is highly commendable.
“Congratulations also to the teams at Skipton Golf Club and Prince’s Golf Club, who both overcame massive challenges to complete incredible projects at their clubs during 2018. All are a credit to BIGGA and the greenkeeping industry as a whole.”