From Premier League groundsman to American greenkeeper

Published
Wednesday 15 Jul 2015

A former Myerscough College sportsturf student has swapped the football pitches of the Premier League for the golf fairways of America, thanks to the college’s strong overseas links.

Luke Dodge

Luke Dodge’s association with Myerscough dates back to 2006, where he completed an advanced apprenticeship with the college as part of his role on the ground staff at Blackburn Rovers FC, before moving on to become Skilled Groundsman at Premier League Manchester City. While Luke was at the Etihad Stadium, the club became league champions in 2011 and the following year he was awarded the highly prestigious title of Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) ‘Young Groundsman of the Year 2012.’ He won this while continuing his studies with Myerscough College – enrolling on, and going on to complete, a Foundation Degree course in Sportsturf.

Following a spell in management in Baku, Azerbaijan, Luke opted for a slight change of direction and, thanks to Myerscough College’s strong links with Ohio State University, headed to the States to pursue a career in greenkeeping.

Luke says: ‘My time in America came about from me exploring the option of furthering and also changing the direction of my career path slightly. I contacted Mike O’Keefe, a Myerscough College Fellow, who runs The Ohio State international intern programme. He set me up to go out to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to a golf course called Fox Chapel.

‘’I worked hard for the next five months, during which time we held a Senior Champions tour event, working long hours in often poor weather. I then moved on to TPC Scottsdale in Arizona, where I joined forces with another Ohio State programme intern from Spain.

‘’Again, myself and the team worked tirelessly for three months to get the golf course in to top tournament condition and ready for some of the biggest names in golf. It was great to see the end results of all the hard work that everyone had been putting in on television, and for people to call the praises for all that we had achieved.

‘’As part of the college’s relationship with Ohio State, I have been fortunate to go and work another tournament during my time here in America by going to the Valero Open at TPC San Antonio. I am thankful for all the work and time Mike put in to get me my placement in America. I am now fortunate to call this country my home as I have moved here full time and currently hold the position of Second Assistant Golf Course Superintendent at TPC Scottsdale.’’

Myerscough College has a long standing relationship with Ohio State University, where students can spend a year undertaking paid work placements and gain invaluable, hands-on experience at leading sporting facilities, including some of the world’s finest golf courses. There are also regular opportunities to be part of the build up to at least one major competition.

Mike O’Keefe says: ‘’The idea of the programme is to help you to add value to your CV. Students who go on the programme gain valuable experience that makes them far more employable when they enter the industry.’’

“Compared to other UK college’s, Myerscough’s sportsturf students are by far the most predominant at the major golf tournaments in the US. Myerscough College is gaining remarkable credibility and respect in the U.S sportsturf and golfing industry.”

‘’We’ve been bringing Myerscough students across to the States for a very long time. As the college has such an excellent reputation, I make a point of coming here every year. Back in Ohio we deal with institutions from around 30 countries and out of all of them, our best relationship is with Myerscough.‘’

26-year-old Luke, who is originally from Blackburn and is now based in America permanently, says he wouldn’t have had the career opportunities he’s had if it wasn’t for Myerscough College: ‘’I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without the support and guidance from tutors at Myerscough whilst I completed my qualifications.

‘’Myerscough is the college with the most sporting facilities and links with professional clubs in the North West. Since then I have found Myerscough to be a very good college that is there to encourage you and push you onto the next step. I have found this with all my tutors throughout my time studying with them, and now with helping me pursue the next stage of my career in America.

‘’It really does show with plenty of hard work inside and outside the classroom that it will pay off and you can achieve anything you put your mind to.’’

 

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by Dave Salmon

dalmon@myerscough.ac.uk

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