This year’s group of British and Irish greenkeepers are preparing for the experience of a lifetime as part of the John Deere TPC Sawgrass Volunteer Programme, organised annually in partnership with the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of Ireland (GCSAI).
Held at the legendary TPC Sawgrass course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, THE PLAYERS Championship regularly features more of the world’s top players than any other venue throughout the year, leading to its unofficial title of the fifth men’s major. As such it presents an incredible opportunity for BIGGA and GCSAI members to network, learn and gain a huge amount of invaluable experience, in a once-in-a-lifetime setting.
THE PLAYERS is made possible thanks to the hard work and dedication of a course preparation force of over 90 volunteers from around the world, who join the home greenkeeping team in getting and keeping the course in shape. Following the final day’s play, the greenkeepers also get the chance to attempt to hit the 17th hole’s intimidating island green.
This year the event returns to its traditional March timing after 12 years of being hosted in May. The shift is the result of changes to the PGA Tour calendar and will see the greenkeeping team in 2019 undertake a very different challenge to that of preparing the course in May. The successful BIGGA and GCSAI members selected to join the volunteer team at the tournament, which takes place from March 14 to 17, are:
• BIGGA Scottish Region - Darren Skinner, Castle Stuart Golf Links
• Northern Region - Jon Gamble, Welshpool Golf Club
• Central England Region - Matthew Shaul, Cleethorpes Golf Club
• South West and South Wales Region - Mark Simmons, Kingsdown Golf Club
• South East Region - Andy Copeland, Chesfield Downs Golf and Country Club
• International - Niels Sorensen, Randers Golf Klub, Denmark
• GCSAI - Alex Newenham, Douglas Golf Club, Ireland.
John Deere Limited turf division sales manager Chris Meacock said: “I would like to congratulate all this year’s successful BIGGA and GCSAI members for winning through the rigorous selection process and earning a place on what will be our fifth annual TPC Sawgrass Volunteer Programme in 2019.
“The quality of applications that we receive each year is a true reflection of the high standards of greenkeeping and course management throughout the UK and Ireland. I know from the comments of past volunteers that this latest group will benefit greatly from the experience of being part of such a large, well-organised international greenkeeping team involved in the preparation of one of the world’s top golf tournaments.”