"A shining example of how a course manager can, on behalf of his employers, develop staff."
This is how the GTC's Education Director, David Golding, described Alan Gibson as he won a top prize in the small employers section of the Modern Apprenticeship Awards 2006..
Alan - on behalf of West Lothian Golf Club, Bo'ness - scooped the award in the Scottish Modern Apprenticeship programme, which celebrated the achievement of individual modern apprentices also showcasing the commitment and contribution made by employers and training providers in the industry.
He won first prize in the "employer of modern apprentices - acknowledging the commitment and support of employers" category for small businesses.
"Golf is a valuable part of the ever growing leisure industry and it needs good greenkeepers to secure its future," said Alan, who was nominated by Oatridge College, which along with his employers, supports his work with trainee greenkeepers.
"Scotland is proud of its golfing heritage and equally proud of the courses it has on offer," he added. "But without highly skilled greenkeepers, the industry would have to look elsewhere for skilled professionals.
"I believe that home grow talent is best and I would encourage all course and club managers and committees to look at the training opportunities available through schemes such as modern apprenticeships and reap the benefits as I have."
Alan has served as course manager at WLGC for the last 18 years. "And I have had no less than ten apprentices under my care during that time," he said. "I have been fortunate to have retained three of my former apprentices - one of whom, Iain Marshall, is now my deputy and two others, Jeff Ryce and Wayne Meikle, are assistants."
His first apprentice, Richard McLuckie, took over his own course at Linlithgow Golf Club, in 2000 and was promoted to general manager in 2005 while others have moved on in greenkeeping to courses such as Dalmahoy and Gleneagles.
"As a golf course manager, I feel I have a responsibility to the sport in which I work to ensure its future is in safe hands by producing young professionals ready to meet the challenges of maintaining their own golf courses," Alan said.
On reaching the final three in the Awards - which are sponsored by Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise - Alan was interviewed by a member of the judging panel who visited the golf club and also spoke to staff.
Television star Stephen Jardine hosted an award ceremony at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Edinburgh in October where the winners were congratulated by deputy minister for education and young people, Robert Brown.
Managing Secretary at West Lothian, Ian Osborough, said the Club was honoured that Alan had received this award on their behalf.
"His commitment , enthusiasm and expertise over many years in bringing through our apprentices to a very high standard is to be commended," he said.. "They reflect on the Club, but more to the point, reflect the high calibre course manager that we have. He should be justly proud of this achievement."
David Golding added: "As a qualified assessor through the GTC's ongoing training programme to help the formal delivery of work-based training programmes, Alan is a shining example of how a course manager can, on behalf of his employers, develop staff.
"This is good both for the staff's personal development but also the standards of golf course maintenance and management will improve as their skills develop. All round a great team performance!"