Bernhard Award to ‘Grandfather of Greenkeeper Education’

Dennis Mortram (right) is presented with the Outstanding Contribution of the Year Award by Steven Nixon of Bernhard and Company.

Harrogate, Yorkshire, England: Dennis Mortram, known as the ‘Grandfather of Greenkeeper Education’, and credited with helping establish training opportunities for those working on golf courses, was among several BIGGA members recognised on the opening evening of the BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition.

At the BIGGA Welcome Celebration with AMS Robotics, Mortram, 75, was awarded with the Outstanding Contribution of the Year Award sponsored by Bernhard and Company, a Full Business Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.

A former tutor at Reaseheath College in Cheshire, Mortram was one of the first to recognise that greenkeepers would require industry-specific education if they were to elevate the profession and raise standards of golf course maintenance. He also played a key role in the establishment of the Master Greenkeeper certification.

Mortram said: “I’m emotionally drained. What we did back then was as a team and I have so many people to thank, who are as deserving as me to be up on this stage. Thank you to everyone for this honour. It is amazing.”

At the event, which was hosted by BBC presenter Naga Munchetty, a number of other awards were handed out to BIGGA (British and International Golf Greenkeepers’ Association) members who have done extraordinary things throughout their careers or shown wonderful commitment to supporting the association and its members.

The team at Loch Lomond Golf Club was awarded the Greenkeeping Project of the Year Award sponsored by Baroness. With almost two metres of rainfall each year, Loch Lomond is a challenging place to build a golf course.

Course Manager David Cole and his team have overseen a project that has been described as the largest golf course construction in United Kingdom golfing history. Using innovative techniques that included placing a sand cap across the entire course, the team rebuilt the entire golf course over a period of four winters.

Cole said: “I must admit that I feel like the four years of the project have taken their toll on me so I got quite emotional when Naga announced us as the winners. I’m so proud of the team and I really wanted them to get recognition for what they achieved. I will be indebted to my team until the day I die because they were there 12 hours a day, seven days a week for four years in a row.”

The Championship Greenkeeping Performance of the Year Award, sponsored by Origin Amenity Solutions, was won by the team at Clevedon Golf Club following the hosting the Wright-Morgan Championship on the EuroPro Tour in 2021.

The event was only Clevedon’s third professional event in its 130-year history. Despite their relative inexperience and a modest operating budget, Course Manager Richard Ponsford and the team produced a golf course that was described by the EuroPro’s tournament director as by far the best presented venue of the year.

Ponsford said: “I couldn’t believe it. I thought we were just there to make the numbers up. From the team that I have every day at Clevedon to the volunteers, we couldn’t have done it without any of them. For the players to say that the course is up there with the best is something special.”

Also recognised at the BIGGA Welcome Celebration were:

  • Excellence in Communications Awards with Campey Turfcare Systems: John Rowbottom, Woolley Park Golf Club (New Media); John Milne, Garmouth & Kingston Golf Club (Outreach); and Shaun Cunningham, Prestonfield Golf Club (Innovation and Thought Leadership).
  • Stuart Taylor, formerly Course Manager at Glasgow Golf Club, received Life Membership of BIGGA.
  • The Amenity Forum Sprayer Operator of the Year Award: Jason Garlick, JMG Amenity.
  • BIGGA’s latest Master Greenkeepers: Matthew Aplin, Alan FitzGerald, Greg Fitzmaurice, Richard Johnstone and Paul Brett.
  • The audience watched a conversation with Bryn Roberts, Deputy Head Greenkeeper at Padeswood & Buckley, who recently returned from delivering aid to the Ukrainian border.
  • Jonathan Wood of St Andrews Links and winner of the 2021 BIGGA Photographic Competition collected his prizes including a frame print of his winning image.

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