ICL Continue to Learn Scholarship


Each year BIGGA Partner ICL Turf & Landscape invites five BIGGA members, who have undertaken a selection process, to attend the Continue to Learn education programme.

ICL appreciate that the valuable career-development opportunities provided by Continue to Learn are not available to every greenkeeper due to the cost of education, travel and accommodation and so the scholarship seeks to provide a level playing field for ambitious members who would otherwise miss out. 

The ICL Continue to Learn Scholarship offers five BIGGA members (see criteria below) the opportunity to attend the Continue to Learn at BTME education programme. The scholarship, worth approximately £500, comprises three nights hotel accommodation and a comprehensive education package.

In 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we moved our education programme online. The five scholarship recipients recieved full access passes to the conference days and booked a selection of online classes, as well as attending the National Regional Conference that was held in November 2020. The scholars have also been invited to attend Continue to Learn and attend education in Harrogate in 2022.

Here's how they got on:

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James Matthewman

Deputy Head Greenkeeper - Maesteg Golf Club

I live in South Wales, so Harrogate is not exactly around the corner and when I found out Continue to Learn was going to be hosted online I thought it was a brilliant idea, not only to make the event go ahead, but also looking out for our safety ( it was also great to be able to do it all from the comfort of my sofa!) 

This was completely new to me and I was a little nervous as I didn’t know what to expect, but I settled in almost straight away and come the end of the session I was gutted it was over. I found the whole experience really exciting and would definitely recommend it to anyone keen to learn new things. 

As I was generously allowed to choose six classes and can honestly say there wasn’t one minute from any of the classes where I didn’t learn something that will benefit. I took down so many notes as everything was so beneficial to me now and for the future. 

When I received the email saying I was one of five selected for the scholarship I was completely stunned. I think I read the email five times just to make sure it was actually true. I cannot begin to thank ICL and BIGGA enough for the opportunity, I will honestly never forget it.  The scholarship is a fantastic opportunity for anyone of any standard and any age in greenkeeping as there is so much to learn. 

I am constantly on the BIGGA website, always searching for new material and watching webinars and I came across the ICL scholarship, as I just been appointed deputy head greenkeeper I thought ‘wow, now there’s something I would love to experience’ as even though I have 15 years behind me, there is still so much I need to learn and thought this would be the perfect opportunity. I applied honestly thinking I would not get the chance, but look what happened. I am and will be forever grateful. 

Can I just finish by saying I found Frank Newberry so inspiring and he really helped me as I had some personal issues over the Christmas period. Also, I loved the part where Les Howkins turned into Albert Einstein! Wow that maths was something else! 

Many thanks for everything. 
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Chris Low

Deputy Course Manager - Olton Golf Club

I would like to thank BIGGA and ICL for the opportunity to be an ICL scholar this year. Due to the lockdown I had to miss out on the classroom sessions due to work commitments, but after speaking to BIGGA’s Sami Strutt and Deb Burnett, they said I will be able to take my classroom sessions next year, which was really pleasing to hear. 

I made the most of the conference sessions after work and have learnt a great deal that will benefit me going forward. From course nutrition to man management, there was a great selection of webinars to choose from and BIGGA did a fantastic job to offer such a broad range of subjects to an online platform.

It would be great to see more of these sessions made available in the future as they provide a lot of knowledge and insight into areas you can’t always learn about in your working day. I look forward to hopefully attending BTME next year and gaining even more knowledge and increasing my network of industry colleagues. 

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Neil Gilham

Course Manager - Reigate Hill Golf Club

At the start of 2020 I registered for Master Greenkeeper, having been in the industry for 28 years. I had not previously been collecting CPD credits and, needing 60 to get through stage 1, I committed to attending Harrogate and taking part in some of the classes that are run annually. With this in mind I applied for the ICL Scholarship, with no expectation whatsoever of being accepted as I always thought these were given to younger greenkeepers.

As a recipient of a scholarship I was able to attend six classes, which I had from three different presenters, all of whom gave great interactive seminars. Michael Astrop helped me to develop my communication skills, be more assertive and confident in the workplace; Ian Sumpter gave great insight into machinery maintenance and diagnostics; and Frank Newberry showed me that even having been a course manager for 17 years there are still things to learn about team leadership and staff motivation. They also provided the opportunity to connect with other greenkeepers, not just from the UK but worldwide.

I was slightly apprehensive when it became clear that it would be an online learning experience but it turned out to be really easy to use. I found the whole online experience was very enjoyable and it saved me a 400-mile round trip! I will certainly be looking to get to Harrogate next year if possible and will also look to do more online classes if they are available in the future.

I would like to thank ICL and BIGGA for the opportunity that I was given, and the other sponsors and staff that made the events possible. They were all run extremely well and as I found out, the scholarships are available to any greenkeepers no matter what age or stage in their career.

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Laura Sayer-Hall

Greenkeeper - Ardfin Golf Club

While it was not under the best circumstances, there was a definite benefit to having 2021’s Continue to Learn in an online format. Living on an island that’s a fair distance from the exhibition centre in Harrogate means there’s rather a lot of logistics involved in order for us to attend BTME each year. And this year’s format meant I was still able to work on the course before and after each daily session, which made it a lot easier to fit in.

I think it’s important at the early stages of your career to attend as many educational events as possible so as to build knowledge quickly and have this tie in with the practical work you’re doing on course. Attending events (particularly BTME) is also an excellent way of keeping motivation levels up for the coming season after a long dark winter.

The main standouts for me were having my brain boggled all day in maths courtesy of Les Howkins, as well as attending numerous sustainability and conservation-focused webinars, and it is great to see so many clubs giving back to the environment in many different ways.

I’d like to thank ICL for this scholarship opportunity, as it has enabled me full access to the conference, multiple classes, as well as all the webinars.  This has been really beneficial to my career, and has allowed me to build upon my current knowledge in a wide range of directions.  I’d highly recommend it to anyone who is wanting to develop their greenkeeping career further.

I would also like to thank BIGGA for all the effort they put in to making this format work so well for us all.The standard of classes was exceptional yet again and it has been great to have something written on the calendar this year. I look forward to eventually meeting the rest of the ICL Scholars when we hopefully get a bit of normality returning for 2022.

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Jamie Wright

First Assistant - Huntercombe Golf Club

In a way I do feel that the virtual experience worked in my favour this year, considering I am about 200 miles south of Harrogate. It was important for me to keep improving my knowledge and taking part in the classes on offer is key to developing. That being said, I don’t think it’s a complete substitute to actually attending BTME. BTME is a fantastic opportunity to see faces I don’t get to see at all throughout the year and something I think we all look forward to going to. There are some really knowledgeable people in this industry and if I can learn a little bit from as many of them as possible, then I am really going to benefit. 

I took part in Mathematics in Greenkeeping with Les Howkins and thoroughly enjoyed this 3-part workshop. It was a superb combination of refreshing the memory of some basic maths and testing the brain for some far more challenging questions, such as working out exactly how much sand would be required to fill up the holes created through aeration and how much material would be required to backfill a drainage line. 

What’s In A Soil Analysis with Dr Andy Owen and Henry Bechelet was another class I gained a lot from. Recently stepping into a first assistant role at Huntercombe Golf Club, I have been looking at the soil analysis of our own greens, so this class really allowed me to work out what information to look out for and gain the best understanding of it all.  Both will help me develop as greenkeeper looking to become a course manager in the future. 

With the way the world is at the moment, I honestly believe that having this opportunity is hugely beneficial for anyone that took part, but I do enjoy the actual experience of being in Harrogate, meeting with friends in the industry and making new contacts. It sounds silly but I have friends that work within 20 miles of where I am based and the only time I see some of them is 200 miles away at BTME. I don’t think that anything can replace that, although I do feel there is a place for online learning.  

This opportunity would not have been possible if it was not for the scholarship that ICL provided me with, so I just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone at ICL. These types of events may not even be able to go ahead at all if it wasn’t for the sponsors so I’m sure everyone in the industry is very grateful.  


The application criteria:

•       Applicant must be a BIGGA member from one of the following membership categories: 

Full Member – categories 1A or 1B

Assistant Greenkeeper (in training) - categories 2A, 2B

•       Applicants should be CPD Active 
•       Applicants should be able to attend BTME and Continue to Learn
•       Successful applicants will be expected to meet the cost of their travel, meals and any other personal expenses

For further information visit the Member Opportunities page in the My BIGGA area.


ICL Scholars

ICL Scholars 2022 (to be joined by ICL Scholars 2021)

Kevin Butler, greenkeeper, Saunton Golf Club

Michael Gibbons, greenkeeper, Dunham Forest Golf Club

Abigail Laker, greenkeeper, Frilford Heath Golf Club

Michael Russell, greenkeeper, Preston Golf Club

Jeremy Ward, head greenkeeper, Bradford Moor Golf Club

ICL Scholars 2021

Neil Gilham - Reigate Hill Golf Club

Chris Low - Olton Golf Club

James Matthewman - Maesteg Golf Club

Laura Sayer-Hall - Ardfin Golf Club

Jamie Wright - Huntercombe Golf Club


ICL Scholars 2020

William Curran - Beaverbrook Golf Club

John Milne - Rothes Golf Club

Thomas Tomlinson - Boldon Golf Club

Melissa Winkworth - Goring and Streatley Golf Club 

Phil Worth - Macclesfield Golf Club

ICL Scholars 2019

Blair Shearer - Dunbar Golf Club 

Dan Dooley - Mount Murray Golf Club

David Stewart - Walmley Golf Club

Jorge Manso - Coombe Wood Golf Club

Andrew Brown -  Boundary Lakes

ICL Scholars 2018

Daniel Ashelby - Wilmslow Golf Club

Michael Barnard - Royal Automobile Club

Philip Billinghurst - Woburn Golf Club

Michael Hughes - Scotscraig Golf Club

Simon Pyett - Halesworth Golf Club

ICL Scholars 2017

Lyle Davidson - The Carrick

James Evans - Woburn Golf and Country Club

James Sergeant - Sudbrook Moor GC

Richard Sheldon - Marriott Forest of Arden

Darrell Crowley - Owston Hall Golf Club



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