Four of BIGGA’s John Deere TPC Sawgrass delegates on the show stand at BTME 2015.
BIGGA’s additional John Deere TPC Sawgrass delegate Chris McArthur on his home course in Northern Ireland.
John Deere TPC Sawgrass Irish delegate David Perdisatt (left) with GCSAI president Michael McFeely.
Delegates for the first ever John Deere TPC Sawgrass Volunteer Programme in the US in May joined forces on the company’s stand at BTME 2015.
The latest excellent educational offering from BIGGA involved members filling in an online application form via the BIGGA website, then completing a video application outlining their greenkeeping knowledge, career aspirations and why they wanted to join the programme. A shortlist was then drawn up, and candidates successful after the video stage then underwent interviews with BIGGA's five regional administrators, BIGGA officials and a representative from John Deere.
The successful five are Michael Burgin from Normanby Golf Club in Scunthorpe, North Lincs; Chris McArthur from Portstewart Golf Club in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland; Graham Down from Aldwickbury Park Golf Club in Harpenden, Herts; James Bledge from Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club in Deal, Kent; and Mike Ellis from The Point at Polzeath, Cornwall.
Four of the delegates met on the John Deere stand at the show in January – unfortunately Chris’s attempts to join them from Northern Ireland were thwarted by poor weather on the Wednesday which led to the cancellation of his flight. However, in the week after BTME Chris Meacock, John Deere Limited’s turf division sales manager, made the journey to Northern Ireland to chat to Chris, welcome him to the team and answer any questions.
Chris said: “I’m really excited about joining the team and looking forward to the process and experience to better myself as a person. Since I entered in the summer I thought about little else, so winning is a dream come true. Of course being the only member of the team from Northern Ireland is a real honour. With its famous golfing history, not least set by the golfers from Ulster in the world game at the moment, I have a lot to live up to! I’m really grateful to BIGGA and John Deere for providing me with this opportunity. To work and learn on such a fantastic stage as TPC Sawgrass with a great team will give me the opportunity to connect with some of the best sports turf staff in the industry and no doubt enhance my level as a greenkeeper.”
The final five will join the course maintenance team at the legendary US venue for the entire duration of the Players Championship on the PGA Tour with travel, accommodation, subsistence and uniform all provided courtesy of BIGGA Partner John Deere. They will even get the opportunity to attempt to hit the island green on the course’s legendary 17th hole.
As well as the five BIGGA members, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of Ireland (GCSAI) will be sending a winning member to join the maintenance team at TPC Sawgrass, again courtesy of John Deere. David Perdisatt, senior greenkeeper & trainer at Naas Golf Club in County Kildare, Ireland, successfully came through a similar process in the Republic.
David also trains greenkeepers and is responsible for 12 students each year, each studying for a Further Education and Training Awards Council Level 4 greenkeeping qualification. He said: “I was absolutely delighted when I got the call to say I’d be joining the team. It’s a really great opportunity to network with other greenkeepers and make connections for my future career. My ambition is to progress to superintendent level, so my current role is very good experience for that in terms of the responsibility for the trainees, exposure to budgets and team management. I would really like to offer my thanks to both the GCSAI and John Deere for this opportunity. I’ve always been interested in training and trying to help people better themselves, and I still do a lot of online studying of my own – you can never stop learning in this industry.”