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Great expectations: presenting world-class football pitches at St George’s Park

Great expectations: presenting world-class football pitches at St George’s Park

A new John Deere fleet will help meet the demands of maintaining surfaces used by some of the best players on the planet. 

For the grounds team at St George’s Park, the home of England football, maintaining a world-class venue is a 365-days-a-year, 24-hours-a-day passion.

Located six miles from Burton in Staffordshire, the park is home to 14 pitches and sprawls across 330 acres with 150 acres actively maintained by a 15-strong team.

Andy Gray, Head of Grounds and Estates, is in charge while 10 take care of the pitches and four work on the wider estate.

“The sheer size of the estate is the biggest challenge,” says Andy, who joined The FA from Southampton FC.

A key part of his job is to foresee issues that will crop up in the future and putting a strategic plan in place to meet these potential challenges.

“I’m also responsible for making sure my team has all the tools they require to do their job effectively,” he adds.

To help them in their quest to continue delivering world-class excellence, the centre has invested in a brand new fleet of John Deere mowers, gators and tractors to maintain the England teams’ pitches and the wider estate.

The pitches

“It’s a high-pressure environment because you’re constantly trying to meet everyone’s expectations and when you have a small team on both sides it is hard,” says Dan Oliver, Assistant Head of Grounds.

Adaptability and responding to the UK’s unpredictable weather patterns is key. “The weather is the biggest thing,” adds Dan. “There are peaks and troughs, depending on how wet or warm it has been.”

With major Premier League and European teams plus sides from further afield making the journey to train at St George’s, Dan and the team feel the pressure to deliver a world-class experience.

“We constantly compare ourselves to other venues. A lot of the players will be coming from excellent facilities, so we do our best to mirror what they’re used to, and hopefully deliver more. This should be a step up.”

The estate

Management of the wider estate covers a range of tasks from woodland management to protecting and enhancing biodiversity.

Matt’s estates team is made up of him and three other people. This equates to an approximate ratio of one person per 25 acres to actively maintain daily.

The team’s existing equipment lease deal expired in January 2020, leading to a re-evaluation of what was required.

“That fleet was the same one that was set up in 2011,” Matt says.

“The ride-on mowing equipment we had didn’t suit our estate’s undulating terrain. The nature of the site means that you’re never sure what you’re going to come across and because of the soil makeup the ground is often wet.”

After an extensive demonstration process of the machines available to them, the team decided to go with John Deere because of the extra support the brand can provide.

“One thing that really impressed me from the start was the support John Deere gave us during the transition when the old fleet was going out and the new kit was still being built,” Matt says. “As it was transferred in we still had access to whatever equipment we needed.

“For us, one of the most important things was what would happen if something broke down. Our arrangement with John Deere means we can get answers quickly and get equipment back up and running.”

The team’s new John Deere fleet comprises three compact tractors in the form of a 2036R and two 4066R models, two TE and three HPX Gators, three 2750 E-Cut triplex mowers, two X950R riding mowers, one 7400A TerrainCut and a 8000A mower, one Progator and a HD200 sprayer.

All the equipment was supplied by John Deere dealer Farol through Area Sales Managers Jacob Shellis and Tom Spencer. With their support, full training was given to the workforce on how to set up the machines to operate with maximum accuracy and performance.

The fleet is fully connected and all machines are remotely monitored by Farol under Deere’s PowerGard protection plan. A maintenance agreement means work is carried out at scheduled times according to the service manual. This ensures performance is maximised and reduces the risk of breakdowns. The deal is in place for five years.

Nathan Page, one of the operators at St George’s, said: “A big difference is the 2036R and 4066R tractors. They are all-weather, comfortable and capable of pulling everything we need them to.”

His colleague Michael Bristow added: “The main thing for me was the training when the new kit arrived. We have been shown the right way to operate it all. The ride quality is also really good, which is important when you’re working on these machines all day.”

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SUSPHOS-project: ‘Reduced phosphorus fertilization on golf courses: A comparison of three fertilizer recommendations for putting greens’ is now published in International Turfgrass Society Research Journal.

SUSPHOS-project: ‘Reduced phosphorus fertilization on golf courses: A comparison of three fertilizer recommendations for putting greens’ is now published in International Turfgrass Society Research Journal.

As a FEGGA partner of the SUSPHOS-project: ‘Reduced phosphorus fertilization on golf courses: A comparison of three fertilizer recommendations for putting greens’ We are pleased to announce that it is now published in International Turfgrass Society Research Journal.

See link:

Anne Friederike Borchert will present the paper at the opening session at the International Turfgrass Research Conference in Copenhagen in July.

Thanks to all for contributions and cooperation 😊


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Our new branch at Bosley is now open!

Our new branch at Bosley is now open!

Campey Turf Care Systems is one of world’s largest independent sports turf and ground care machinery suppliers, distributing innovative sports turf maintenance equipment. The company has been based in Marton, Cheshire, for over 40 years, earning a reputation for offering practical advice and superb aftercare service.

The company is now delighted to have opened a new branch in Bosley and Chairman Richard Campey extends a warm welcome to everyone to view the latest new and used tractors, machinery, new mowers, strimmer’s, chainsaws, parts, and clothing, from renowned names such as New Holland, Echo, Dennis, Trimax and Granit.

“This is a new venture for us,” declares Richard “We are expanding into areas of agriculture, horticulture, and professional landscaping with new product ranges to appeal to a wider, more diverse user. Please come along and take a look at what we are offering. If you can make it on our Open Day, the 17th of June from 2pm, you can and enjoy our hospitality too!” To register attendance go to

 Richard Campey was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) in 2011. He has spent the past 40 years building a successful company developing and supplying quality machinery for natural turf renovation and maintenance. Equally important is his pro-active approach to educating groundsmen and women in promoting a strategy of best practice. He is a great advocate for promoting the best possible sports surfaces across all walks of life and all levels of sport, collaborating particularly closely with his local clubs and local authorities in the Cheshire and surrounding areas.

The company also has a thriving used machinery business and a subsidiary company, Tines Direct, which supplies replacement tines, blades, and replacement parts for a wide range of turf care machinery.

So come and speak to one of our experienced friendly team who will offer the help and advice on machinery and equipment you need.

More information is available at

Find us on Facebook –

Follow us on Twitter – @CampeyTurfCare

Follow us on Instagram – @campeyturfcare

Watch us on YouTube

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Change of careers leads to the home of golf for John Deere award winner

Change of careers leads to the home of golf for John Deere award winner

A dramatic change of careers paid off for SRUC student Ben Matthews, after his tutors unanimously named him the winner of this year’s HNC Golf Course Management Student of the Year Award, sponsored by John Deere and Scottish turf dealer Double A.

Born in London, but raised in Canada from the age of three, Ben moved to Scotland in 2014. He worked in health and social care in both Canada and Scotland for 20 years in total before realising it was time for a change.

“Since moving back to Scotland I had been helping children in crisis situations as an advocate, ensuring they had a voice,” Ben says. “It was amazing work and I loved it, but I started to burn out – I couldn’t switch off from worrying about the children I was working with.”

Initially Ben studied for a master’s degree in Sustainable Resource Management at the University of Edinburgh.

“If I could, I decided I wanted to turn the degree into a job where I could work outdoors while protecting the environment,” he explains.

It was a chance sighting while passing the SRUC campus one day that led to him pursuing a career in golf course management.

“I’ve always been a fan of golf and although I’ve never been any good, I do enjoy playing it,” he says.

“I was driving past the SRUC Elmwood campus one day and they had a big banner outside which read ‘have you thought about a career in greenkeeping?’.

“I ended up calling them and going to see Paul Miller, the course programme leader, and everything he told me about it ticked all the boxes.”

Ben enjoyed the variety of subjects taught on the course, even those he initially assumed would be less interesting, such as soil science.

“I thought it would be dry, but Dr Miller made it really interesting, teaching us everything we would need to know as a turf manager,” he says. “I also loved learning about design and construction.

“I’ve been to a few universities and colleges, and this was by far my best experience – the tutors are all phenomenal.”

Ben has since secured a position as a seasonal greenkeeper for the St Andrews Links Trust.

“I only live 25 minutes away so it seemed silly not to try for a position at the home of golf,” he says.

“I’m lucky enough to be working on the old course, where golf has been played for 600 years, so every day is like Christmas Day for me at the moment!”

Ben is enjoying focusing on the practical side of greenkeeping and looks forward to building up his experience and skills.

“I’ve been absolutely blown away by the greenkeeping community – everyone is so supportive and welcoming,” he says. “It’s the type of industry where if you’re having a problem, you can call someone at another golf course and they will lend you equipment or recommend a product. It’s such a tightly knit and positive community. I’m so happy to be in it.”

Ben is currently busy preparing the famous St Andrews’ course for the 150th Open this summer.

“I don’t think I could be in a better place to start my career and I’m so grateful to SRUC and so happy to have won this award,” he says. “Finding out I had won really cemented that I’d done the right thing in changing careers and that all my hard work has paid off.”

Course Tutor Ian Butcher says: “Ben has been a very positive member of the faculty throughout a period of change and transformation, and all the staff welcome his contribution to our classes whether they are online or on campus.

“Ben has, like many of our HND cohorts, decided to change career, from the Health and Social Care sector and he also previously completed an MSc Degree in Sustainable Resource Management. This provided Ben with a strong foundation for our own curriculum as we address the challenges golf faces in the 21st century.

“He has very strong team building background and has also shown strong communication skills with industry professionals, as well as adaptability to new situations. In 2021 he was awarded the R&A Greenkeeping Scholarship, which again adds to his perspective on the golf world as a whole.

“Without doubt his keenness to learn and enthusiasm for golf course management leads to the consistently high standard of submissions and capacity to explore new ideas. We look forward to supporting his new career as it continues with the St Andrews Links Trust in the Open Championship year of 2022.”


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Is there a crisis in golf greenkeeping? BIGGA launches major survey to find out more

Is there a crisis in golf greenkeeping? BIGGA launches major survey to find out more

The British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) has launched an industry-wide survey that will quantify information relating to a perceived ‘crisis’ within the greenkeeping and wider golfing sector.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that golf clubs are struggling to fill available vacancies, particularly in the greenkeeping department. Reasons generally put forward for this include the requirement to work anti-social hours, lack of appreciation and a relatively low entry salary. However, for those who do embark upon a career in greenkeeping, the positives are many.

This survey is crucial as it is vital the scale of the challenge is quantified, as well as the key drivers for the issues. Effective golf club staff are critical to the health and growth of the sport as they strongly influence the experience of golfers on a day-to-day basis.

As BIGGA seeks to fulfil its overarching ambition of creating a more positive working environment for the UK’s greenkeepers, BIGGA hopes the hard data from the survey will enable the association to positively guide the broader golf industry.

Head greenkeepers, course managers and other members of the turf management team at golf clubs are invited to complete the survey. Only one response is required per golf club. The survey can be completed online at:

BIGGA has requested the support of partner organisations with regards this research and will publish the results in full when the periods for submissions has closed.

BIGGA Chief Executive Officer Jim Croxton said: “With the ongoing cost of living crisis at the forefront of our minds and the COVID-19 pandemic having caused many people to consider their priorities, the golf industry faces a very real challenge to engage sufficient staff at club level, to effectively deliver the sport to the nation’s five million regular golfers. Participation in the sport is booming at just the time that recruiting and retaining greenkeeping staff is at its most challenging. It is vital the golf industry – utilising real data – considers positive solutions to the ongoing labour issues.

“We encourage all our members to respond to this survey, which we believe will benefit all greenkeepers and golf club staff.”

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Rain Bird Appoints Golf Sales Specialist for Spain and Portugal and Regional Sales Manager Southwest Europe

Rain Bird Appoints Golf Sales Specialist for Spain and Portugal and Regional Sales Manager Southwest Europe

Two new recruits to Rain Bird Europe this spring are Julien Guigny (above) as Regional Sales Manager Southwest Europe and Daniel Sanchez (below) as Golf Sales Specialist Spain and Portugal.

Daniel Sanchez

Julien Guigny, MBA, has over fifteen years’ international sales and business development experience in industrial healthcare, pharmaceutical, aeronautical and energy markets across Southern Europe gained during a career at Sontara, Laboratoires Anios – Soluscope, and Berry Plastics Group. Living in France, he is an aviation enthusiast and also enjoys trail running, mountain biking, cycling and swimming.

Madrid-based Daniel Sanchez, a Bachelor of Electronic Communication, re-joins Rain Bird after the past five years at LogisticH2O where his focus was the effective installation and operation of Rain Bird irrigation system technology. Prior to this, he spent a decade as a Rain Bird field service engineer providing valuable technical support to customers and distributors.

Tina Baumgartner, Europe Sales Manager Golf at Rain Bird Europe comments: “Julian and Daniel are joining Rain Bird at an exciting time as technology is developing fast, helping our golf customers address the challenges of water management. They both have valuable customer service as well as varied technical expertise across many sectors and territories and we’re looking forward to welcoming them into the European team.”

Contact details:

Julien Guigny, Regional Sales Manager Southwest Europe

M + 33 60 87 69 789

Daniel Sanchez, Golf Sales Specialist Spain and Portugal

M +34 67 85 59 656

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Members of The Federation of European Golf Greenkeepers Association (FEGGA) travelled from 15 countries across the globe to check out the transformation of La Hacienda Alcaidesa Links Golf Resort, formerly known as Alcaidesa, as part of its three-day annual conference.

FEGGA serves as the umbrella body for the national greenkeeping associations in Europe with its members and key partners gathering at La Hacienda to discuss key initiatives and challenges facing the industry, as well as learning about the multi-million investment project currently in progress at the 36-hole Spanish venue.

La Hacienda’s head greenkeeper, Raúl Tineo Brea, and course architect, Kurtis Bowman, discussed the exciting plans for the new Links Course, which has been completely reconfigured and redesigned, before attendees were able to enjoy a tour of the layout and signature holes.

As part of the conference, members also dined in Sal Verde, the recently-opened restaurant in La Hacienda’s renovated clubhouse.

Dean Cleaver, Executive Officer of FEGGA, said: “We’d like to thank La Hacienda for having us and for its exceptional hospitality.

“There’s no better compliment than from the experts of the industry and some of the best greenkeepers in Europe, and all of them had positive things to say about the facilities and new Links Course.

“We were all in agreement that it’s now going to be in the conversation for one of the best golf courses in Spain and has catapulted it into amongst Europe’s elite. We are still getting our breath back after seeing some of the stunning views over the ocean and Rock of Gibraltar!”

Located in the Cadiz municipality of San Roque, close to Sotogrande, the Links Course is scheduled to open in June 2022 and will run along the beachfront with spectacular views of the Mediterranean, Gibraltar and Africa.

The contemporary clubhouse, driving range and practice area have already been completed ahead of the golf course reopening this summer, while the development of a five-star hotel with 150 rooms, halfway house with restaurant, 51 luxury villas and a beach club will mark the next phase of the project and La Hacienda’s elevation to a flagship venue and golf destination in Southern Europe.

FEGGA is a not-for-profit organisation formed in 1996 with a view of promoting the profession and helping greenkeepers through educational programmes and environmental policies, resulting in the highest standard of course conditions and professionalism across the continent.

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FEGGA Statement on the situation in Ukraine

As the body representing European Greenkeeping, the Federation of European Golf Greenkeepers Association (FEGGA) deplores the actions of the state of Russia and stands by the people of Ukraine. FEGGA fully supports the recommendations outlined by the IOC, and subsequently supported by the IGF and other golf organisations and as such FEGGA will not be inviting at this current time the Russian Greenkeeper Association to participate within any of FEGGA’s events and programmes that benefit greenkeepers and its industry throughout Europe and beyond.

FEGGA will continue to closely monitor in coordination with golf’s governing bodies and FEGGA may reassess its decisions and measures according to future developments. FEGGA joins its fellow organisations within golf to echo the belief that sport, and its supporting industry can contribute to peace and unite people across cultures.

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Opportunities to Develop your career – FEGGA Student Chris Krawczyk shares his experiences

Opportunities to Develop your career – FEGGA Student Chris Krawczyk shares his experiences

I decided to write this article because maybe someone will be looking for an opportunity like me to develop their career. I’m Chris and I took part on the FEGGA Greenkeeping Scholarship Programme at Kristianstad Golf Course in Sweden last season. I strongly recommend to anyone who is hungry for professional success to find out more about this unique opportunity.

I’m 44 years old and I started to work in the greenkeeping business quite late. I decided to change my career when I was 40. I was a web designer and clicking on my computer all day wasn’t me being happy. I started working as a greenkeeper on a golf course in Sweden. I loved this job and after one season I knew I wanted to make a career in this business.  I started to plan my career and set goals. I wanted to be a Head Greenkeeper.  On May 2020 I saw the FEGGA scholarship brochure about the scholarship programme at Kristianstad Golf Course in Sweden – that’s something for me I thought. I wanted to join but was little too late and I decide, I must join in 2021 and I did it! On September 2020 I started study at Elmwood college on my HNC, according to my plan, after its graduation it was supposed to give me a promotion to Head Greenkeeper.

On the beginning of April, I started the scholarship at Kristianstad Golf Course in Sweden. I heard the same thing repeatedly from the very beginning. How you benefit from your time here depends on you. And it was very true. I was the guy who knows what he wants with clear goals, and I decided to use my time on the scholarship the best as I can for my future career. When you are over 40 you don’t have time for waiting and wasting your time. You must be focused on your goals and successful career oriented.  Each scholarship student, in addition to regular work on the golf course, attends a very interesting educational program and has his own project that he or she manages with support of the Kristianstad’s team. Me and my scholarship friend Viktor’s project was to manage and maintain one of the practice greens on the golf course, commonly known as the padel green, because it was in front of the padel tennis court. Our goal was to increase the speed of green and provide an excellent playing surface for a big tournament, the Creekhouse Open. I prepared the completed the maintenance plan with fertiliser and disease protection included.  The speed at the beginning was 7.5 on the stimp and after a couple weeks later we had a stimp of 12. Normally on high season we kept the speed at 10-12 level on stimp. We were greenkeepers and head greenkeepers for this project as well.  For preparing this plan the easiest way would be to ask Bevan Tattersall, the Course Manager of Kristianstad Golf course and along with FEGGA the co-founder of this scholarship but he wanted to make us learn for ourselves. Of course, we could always count on him and consult everything with him. He also provided us with full support, not only knowledge, but provided everything that would be needed (fertilizers, seeds, etc.). It was like a test for me. I am ready for managing my own course? I wasn’t sure but this project confirmed that if I had the opportunity to get such a job as a Head Greenkeeper I would have managed.

Figure 1: Padel green

Click here to view the Padel Green presentation presentation

Figure 2: Complete maintenance plan

Figure 3: Hand topdressing on padel green

Figure 4: Irrigation was a part of my maintenance plan.

Figure 5: Everyday moisture measuring was important to proper irrigation.

In the first half of the scholarship, I started to think about the future season. One day during the searching of job offers on websites I saw an offer of a  Head Greenkeeper position, and I read it and I thought, I meet all the requirements of what they are looking for. So, I decided to apply, but before I did I asked Bevan for advice. He agreed with me I should try, unfortunately I didn’t get this job. It would be maybe a step to high, like a dream but I didn’t give up. I started to be very proactive in searching. I consulted my plans with Dean Cleaver and Bevan. When I saw some new offers, I applied.

The session with Frank Newberry was very useful for me. It was part of our educational path. During his course – Career Clinic, I learned how to improve my CV. I also gave my CV to Frank for evaluation. I used all his advice and suggestions and started receiving meeting invitations. At that time, Frank’s advice on how to deal with a job interview was helpful. In further job interviews I found out that my CV looked great, and I am very career oriented. As a result, after completing the scholarship, I had three job offers and I could choose the most suitable one for me. Next season I start new job as Head Greenkeeper at Skyrup Golf & Hotell in Tyringe in Sweden.

Would I have achieved my goals without this scholarship? Probably yes, but I certainly wouldn’t have done it so fast. I was convinced I could be a Head Greenkeeper; I must go through the various stages of my career. First work as a Senior Greenkeeper, then Deputy Head Greenkeeper and only then can I think about being a Head Greenkeeper. It is thanks to this scholarship that I have elevated my career. I have met many valuable people, without whom I would not have been able to. One of my greenkeeper friends asked me what he can get on this scholarship that he cannot get at his job. I replied that there are many things, but most of all.

  • You get to look at your golf course, thanks to the opportunity to work at Kristianstad GK – ranked within the top 3 golf courses in Sweden, you will look differently at the aesthetics, details and work under time pressure.
  • Acquaintances – as a future Head Greenkeeper you certainly do not know everything, but in important moments it is worth knowing someone who can help. There is an educational path during the scholarship, at each seminar you can ask questions, establish contact with the teacher, and these are very significant people from the greenkeeping industry.
  • Experience in organising tournaments – during the scholarship I worked on the most prestigious tournament in Sweden, Scandinavian Mixed, it was a fantastic experience. In Kristianstad, we organized the Ladies European Tour Creekhouse Open tournament, which was also an interesting experience, especially having the possibility of planning, organising and preparation. Your CV will look better with this experience.
  • Take this as a test to see if you are ready to be a Head Greenkeeper. Thanks to the projects you will learn how to manage the golf course on your own, you have excellent help in the form of Bevan, who is always ready to advise and help.

For me, the most valuable part was the opportunity to meet people, I made many acquaintances and friendships. In the person of Bevan, I found my mentor with whom I am constantly in touch. Bevan helped me a lot in completing my Soil Science in Elmwood and I know I can always count on his help.

Figure 6: Graduation of scholarship – Amazing experience to participate in this endeavour.

The best you can do for yourself and your career, if you are determined to be successful, you must apply for this scholarship. Remember that there is only room for 8 people from all over Europe….

Christopher Krawczyk

Student of the FEGGA scholarship in 2021

Head Greenkeeper at Skyrup Golf & Hotell

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BIGGA and GEO Foundation team up at BTME to celebrate golf’s sustainability champions

BIGGA and GEO Foundation team up at BTME to celebrate golf’s sustainability champions

The British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) has teamed up with GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf to host a place for sports turf managers to meet and exchange ideas during March’s BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition (BTME).

GEO Foundation is an international not-for-profit, dedicated to helping inspire, support and reward credible sustainability and climate action across golf.

BTME takes place at the Harrogate Convention Centre from 22 to 24 March 2022 and during the event the GEO Foundation will be joined by a number of other partners to host the ‘Sustainability Lounge’, which will provide a dedicated space for attendees to find out more, get involved and join discussions about key sustainability issues with experts in their field.

In addition to its strategic support through partnerships with associations including BIGGA, the GEO Foundation assures the OnCourse programmes for grassroots golf facilities, new developments and tournaments, each of which can lead to the widely endorsed and externally recognised GEO Certified label.

During BTME, the Sustainability Lounge will be a gathering and meeting place and in addition to the team from GEO Foundation, experts from around the UK will often be on hand, including BIGGA’s very own sustainability champion, James Hutchinson.

James, who is Membership Services Manager for Ecology and Sustainability for BIGGA, said: “Of all the key topics up for discussion at BTME, among the most important will be the need for golf courses all over the world to adopt increasingly sustainable practices. With the changing availability of resources and rising costs, alongside an increasing awareness of the important role we can all play to protect the natural environment, golf has a massive part to play and I am excited that our colleagues at the GEO Foundation, and partners from other golfing bodies, will be joining us at BTME for what stands to be a wonderful opportunity to exchange ideas and discover new sustainable practices.”

The GEO Foundation will also be recognising Sustainable Golf Champions and will celebrate GEO Certified venues, with representatives invited to showcase what initiatives they have implemented at their golf facilities. There will also be prize draws for those who stop by to vote for a sustainability or climate action project shared by a fellow greenkeeper.

Kelli Jerome, Executive Director at GEO Foundation, added: “BTME is an important event in the golf industry calendar and the advocacy, education and engagement opportunities provided are important to golf’s sustainability progress. We are really excited about the space BIGGA has made available for the Sustainability Lounge and we’re looking forward to working closely with BIGGA and other UK golf associations to support and engage attendees – meeting, hearing views, answering questions and sharing inspiring stories from as many people as possible during the week.”

BTME is free to attend and registration and more information can be found on the BTME website,

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