Luke Turner wins Toro student greenkeeper of the year

Steve Castlein People

Luke Turner has been crowned Toro Student Greenkeeper of the Year 2013 after a highly competitive final at Bigga's HQ near York.

Luke, greenkeeper at Willingdon Golf Club in Eastbourne and student at Plumpton College, emerged triumphant from eight excellent finalists in the annual competition which aims to find the country's most promising young turf expert. He narrowly pipped runners up Scott Roberts (Hankley Common Golf Club) and Sam Evans (Oakland Park Golf Club).

His prize is a superb all expenses paid trip to the USA early next year courtesy of Toro - which will last for eight weeks and include a six-week winter turf school at the University of Massachusetts.

He will also visit the GCSAA's Golf Industry Show in Orlando and explore Toro's base in California - a real life-changing trip. The two runners-up receive a paid trip to Bigga's Continue to Learn education programme at BTME 2014 and all the finalists receive a year's free membership to Bigga.

Luke, who is studying a Diploma in Golf Course Supervision Level Three Sports Turf Management, said: "I was shell-shocked when my name was called out, I couldn't believe it. Any of the guys here could have won it. I'm so pleased and I can't wait to go to the States."

Luke's victory is the culmination of months of interviews carried out across the country as the initial applicants were whittled down to just eight.

On the final day the candidates were first asked to assess the compaction and thatch layer on three tees on Aldwark Manor Golf Course which is adjacent to Bigga's HQ, and formulate a programme of aeration work required to improve them. They were also required to give an overview on the condition of all other areas of the course.

They then faced a 45-minute interview with Bigga Vice Chairman Chris Sealey, golf course consultant Bruce Jamieson, Toro Key Accounts Manager Trevor Chard and BIGGA Learning & Development Manager Sami Strutt before the winner was announced.

Sami said: "The standard was again superb this year and we were very impressed by the high level of knowledge demonstrated in the students' technical reports, and also their composure in a tough interview situation.

"It's a real achievement to just make the final so congratulations to all the students. I'd also like to thank Toro for their continued support of this competition which is now in its 25th year."
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