BIGGA presidency honour for Devon course owner and environmentalist

BIGGA presidency honour for Devon course owner and environmentalist

A fifth-generation farmer, who built a successful golf club from scratch, has accepted the role of vice president of the British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association.

Colin Webber, 59, established Portmore Golf Park in 1993 and has developed the venue into a vibrant 27-hole facility which, due to his commitment to sustainable greenkeeping, won environmental golf course of the year in 2010.

This week, BIGGA has revealed that Colin has accepted the nomination to become BIGGA Vice President from January 2019, leading to becoming president of the association from January 2020.

Colin and his family established Portmore Golf Park from a 12-bay driving range after various pressures put his family farming business in jeopardy. Over the following years came another 12 bays, a par-3 9-hole Hawtree-designed course, and then finally a further 18 that set Portmore up as a 27-hole venue.

For a time, Colin was the only greenkeeper operating the site, but early on in his career he joined BIGGA and benefitted from the networking and educational opportunities provided by the association.

In 2010, Portmore won Overall Achievement of the Year at the Golf Environment Awards, built upon a commitment to sustainable and organic greenkeeping.

Colin overcame a stroke suffered in 2011 to continue to lead his business and continue to be an active member of BIGGA’s Devon & Cornwall Section and the South West & South Wales Regional Board.

He was first approached about the role just two weeks after the passing of his father, who had helped him build the business from the ground up.

“It’s a huge honour, I keep thinking ‘are you sure you have got the right person?’ I am flattered that BIGGA would consider me for such an important national role. It is huge, I have never been asked to do anything like this, I’m not someone who likes to stand in the limelight.

“I had a phone call from [BIGGA Chief Executive Officer] Jim Croxton saying I had been nominated for the role. Jim didn’t know it, but this was a few weeks after my dad, Frank, had died. It was very emotional time and the one person I wanted to tell was my dad.”

“Over the years I have been fortunate enough to build friendships with so many of the greats of greenkeeping, spending hours with the likes of Billy Mitchell, Jack McMillan, Richard Whyman, George Shiels and Jeff Mills, trying to build up a picture of how things used to be done, looking backward to go forward. I became involved and started volunteering with BIGGA because of the help so many guys had given me, especially the small group of lads who I worked together with to complete our City & Guilds almost 30 years ago. Their help was invaluable in building our business. I said I would repay my debt to the association, and since then I have worked hard to do that.”

As vice president, Colin will support West Derby Head Greenkeeper Chris Sheehan, who will become BIGGA President for a one-year term during BTME 2019, to be held in Harrogate next January, when he succeeds current President Chris Kennedy. Following that year, Colin will become BIGGA president for one year from January 2020.

BIGGA CEO Jim Croxton said: “Colin’s story is an inspirational one, and one that proves there is little that can’t be achieved with determination and an eagerness to learn.

“The association is delighted that Colin has accepted the nomination to become vice president from January 2019 and I am certain that he will be a fantastic asset, lending his unique experience of the greenkeeping industry to the continued development of BIGGA as we strive to support and serve our members.”

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