A Myerscough College apprentice has been named the best student greenkeeper in the country after he scooped a prestigious national industry award.
Matthew Milligan has been named winner of the 2021 Toro Student Greenkeeper of the Year, a national contest hosted by the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association, BIGGA, and is sponsored by turfcare machinery and irrigation manufacturer Toro alongside official UK distributor, Reesink Turfcare.
Each year, a selection of the best student greenkeepers, selected from regional interviews hosted across the country, head to the two-day finals of the event, where they complete a variety of tasks designed to test their industry knowledge and their commitment to the profession.
This year, it was the prestigious Celtic Manor Resort that hosted the awards
Myerscough College student Matthew, 26, is First Assistant at Rudding Park, the same venue that fellow Myerscough learner Jason Norwood was employed at when he won the Toro Student Greenkeeper of the Year Award in 2019.
Matthew receives a Toro Scholarship that includes a turf management study course at the University of Massachusetts, a trip to the Golf Industry Show and a visit to the Toro factory. Should coronavirus restrictions prevent this, an alternative prize of equal standing will be organised.
BIGGA Head of Learning and Development Sami Strutt said: “I’m delighted to be able to present this award to Matthew at the culmination of this year’s Toro Student Greenkeeper of the Year Awards. The competition began in March with a record-breaking number of nominations and concluded over the past two days with 12 outstanding finalists who all deserve to be applauded for their knowledge, passion and dedication to the greenkeeping profession.
“The Celtic Manor Resort provided a breathtaking venue for this year’s finals and we continue to be incredibly grateful to Toro and Reesink Turfcare for providing this career-defining opportunity for our most ambitious and talented student members.”
This year the finals were hosted for the first time in the championship surroundings of the Celtic Manor Resort, host of the 2010 Ryder Cup. Director of Golf Courses and Estate Management Jim McKenzie MBE welcomed the finalists to the venue with a walk around the Twenty Ten course. Jim then spoke to the finalists about that experience and offered sage advice on how to develop their careers.
The finalists in the Toro Student Greenkeeper of the Year main category completed an exam but in addition were judged via a grass and seed identification challenge, by answering an essay question and by delivering an individual presentation about their careers so far.
The Toro Student Greenkeeper of the Year Awards were introduced in 1989, with an additional ‘Young’ category introduced in 2016. The awards did not take place in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Managing Director of Reesink Turfcare, David Cole, said: “We knew this year’s award was going to be special. Being back after last year’s lockdown absence with a fantastic calibre of finalists in the grand setting of Celtic Manor Resort, plus a course walk around the Twenty Ten Ryder Cup course and after-dinner speech, both by Jim McKenzie MBE, made it one to remember before we’d even conducted the finals.
“All the finalists showed how much promise there is and how much there is to celebrate in the next generation of greenkeepers. So, it is a huge achievement for the winners, Matt for the main award and Rhian for the young award, to have triumphed. I know both will make sure they maximise the opportunities presented by their educational, international prizes.’’