A new scholarship programme is offering nine lucky individuals the chance to become fully qualified greenkeepers at one of the world’s most prestigious golfing venues.
The Gleneagles Greenkeeping Scholarship programme is designed to equip successful candidates with the practical and theoretical skills required for a successful career in golf course management.
The funded programme will provide candidates with the option to complete a one, two or three-year paid apprenticeship – encompassing practical training in machinery and equipment handling; skills development in course management; placement opportunities across Gleneagles and partner organisations; and the completion of sportsturf SVQs towards a final HND in Golf Course Management in the third year.
Scott Fenwick, Golf Courses and Estate Manager – who is Gleneagles’ longest-serving member of staff – joined the Perthshire hotel 36 years ago as a 16-year-old apprentice greenkeeper.
Scott, whose first tasks in those early days were raking bunkers and learning how to operate machinery for cutting grass, now leads Gleneagles’ 57-strong greenkeeping and gardening team.
He said: “I had a dream of becoming a professional golfer, but that was never going to happen, and I realised a career in greenkeeping was a superb opportunity to still be involved in the sport.
“Over the years, greenkeeping has given me the chance to travel all over the world, because it’s a profession that provides so many different opportunities.
“Greenkeeping is the ideal career for people who don’t want to be stuck in an office or tied to a nine-till-five job, and, as long as you don’t mind early starts, you get to see the best part of the day.
“You’re out in the environment, seeing wildlife, breathing fresh air, watching the beautiful sunrises and the changing seasons – so it’s enjoyable every single day.”
Eager to correct a common misconception, Scott emphasises how greenkeeping is not just about cutting grass. He said: “it’s a complex science and a serious art; presenting championship courses demands great skill, knowledge and tremendous attention to detail, to create the firm and fast conditions the modern day golfer expects.
“It’s hard work, but it’s also rewarding to work as part of a big team to deliver courses that are respected all over the world.”
He added: “We’re also keen to emphasise this opportunity is as relevant for women as it is for men; we’ve had a number of women join the team over the years who’ve gone on to forge great careers in greenkeeping.”
Gary Silcock, Gleneagles’ Director of Golf, said: “Through this scholarship programme, we’re looking to train the golf course managers of the future, but it forms just one strand of our golf career development plan.
“By the start of the 2017 golf season, we’ll also have 11 full-time PGA professionals – the biggest team of golfing professionals in Scotland – working in every area of customer service.
“Two of our PGA professionals will join the PGA training programme, while another two will begin the Club Managers Association of Europe (CMAE) training programme, which supports the career progression of golf professionals and promotes best practice in club management.”
He added: “Supporting staff through training and employment opportunities isn’t just beneficial to our team; it also enhances the guest experience and the golf tourism industry in Scotland, by developing professionals who have the knowledge, skills and experience to deliver outstanding service across every aspect of the golfer’s journey.”
The Gleneagles Greenkeeping Scholarship application form and entry requirements are available at www.gleneagles.com/careers/. Informal enquiries should be directed to Scott Fenwick at email@example.com or on 01764 694392.