Ipswich, Suffolk, England: James Walker, a graduate of the African Turf Academy in Pretoria, South Africa, has praised Jacobsen for its commitment to education and helping to launch his greenkeeping career.
Walker graduated in 2015 from the African Turf Academy, which is supported by The R&A and Jacobsen, an Executive Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation. Walker enjoyed success at the Academy based at the Silver Lakes Golf Estate and won the Student of the Year award in 2015.
Three years on and Walker is now the assistant greenkeeper at JCB Golf & Country Club, the new 18-hole golf course based at the construction equipment manufacturer’s headquarters in Staffordshire. The golf course is supplied by Textron Golf, which includes equipment and vehicles from Jacobsen, E-Z-GO, Cushman and Textron Fleet Management.
“It’s amazing that Jacobsen supported me throughout my education in South Africa, and now I am here at JCB which uses the equipment,” Walker said. “The African Turf Academy was the only one to offer an international qualification, which was run by Elmwood College, and Jacobsen was the only company willing to invest in education in the turf industry across South Africa. I must thank Jacobsen, The R&A and the African Turf Academy for all they have done for me in my career so far.”
The African Turf Academy offers an International Greenkeeping Qualification, a two-year full-time programme of study running in conjunction with the Tour Player Development Programme. On completion of the course, students receive an internationally recognised National Certificate in Greenkeeping from Elmwood College in St Andrews, Scotland.
“I was introduced to Euan Grant at the Golf Industry Show (GIS) in San Antonio last year,” Walker continued. “As the General Manager at JCB Golf & Country Club, he was looking for greenkeepers to come and work at the new course. I was excited at the prospect; it sounded like an exciting project and something I was keen to be involved in.”
Grant said: “James and I met at GIS last February. As soon as we started to talk, I knew he was exactly the kind of person I wanted at the JCB course. He’s passionate about greenkeeping, extremely hardworking and down-to-earth and committed to his own professional development. I would also like to thank Jacobsen for giving people like James the opportunity to enter the turf maintenance profession and supporting the future of the industry.”
Walker said: “I’m looking forward to my future here. It’s a spectacular course with the best equipment and resources available. While the climate is very different to South Africa, I’m adjusting well!”