Two teenage employees at the internationally-renowned Castle Stuart Golf Links are not letting the grass grow under their feet after completing the first part of a greenkeeping qualification.
Reece Haspell and Kerr Edgar, both 17 and apprentice greenkeepers at the Moray Firth links, are studying for an SVQ in greenkeeping and sports turf. The three-year distance learning course is hosted by SRUC Elmwood in Fife, part of Scotland’s Rural College.
The course covers a range of topics, including golf course construction, turf grass identification and production, soils and root zones and golf course tournament preparation.
The pair will shortly begin the second year of the course, before embarking on the final stage next year. As part of their training, the apprentices will also be sent to assist at tournaments to gain practical experience.
Their first assignment will be to join the greenkeeping team at next month’s prestigious Boys Amateur Championship which is being staged at Nairn and Nairn Dunbar golf clubs. The international tournament, hosted by the R&A, golf’s governing body, has previously helped spawn the careers of Rory McIllroy, Sergio Garcia and Jose Maria Olazabal.
As well as working on the acclaimed Castle Stuart links, that has hosted the European Tour’s Scottish Open four times, the apprentices also have a world-wide career opportunity with Caste Stuart offering placements and exchange programmes with other courses. In the past greenkeepers have visited Europe, Australia and the US as part of their learning experience.
James Hutchinson, Castle Stuart’s deputy course manager, said: “By completing this course Reece and Kerr combine both theoretical and practical subjects to learn about course management.
“The on-site work they do here every day is also invaluable. We have to have a quality course to meet our customers’ exceptionally high expectations. We like to think they can work anywhere in the world after working here and gaining the right qualifications.
“Greenkeeping is a great career for young people to get into and we want to make sure they have the right tools to prepare them for whatever they want to achieve.
“We have a fantastic working environment and we pride ourselves in using best practice and state-of-the-art equipment to offer the best on-site training and personal development for hard working individuals.”
Castle Stuart opened in 2009. The quality of the links has been praised by the likes of Phil Mickelson, who won the Scottish Open in 2013, and last year’s winner Alex Noren. It is regarded as a model for future course design by testing the best but being playable and enjoyable for players of all abilities.
Castle Stuart has also won awards for its environmental management, having created the course from an area of former farmland and a site rich in wildlife.