I graduated from FTMI and now I feel like a different person

5 February 2024 Announcement

The FTMI class of 2023 concluded their journeys in Harrogate as they each collected their certificates and reflected on just how far they have come.

The FTMI class of 2023 graduated at BTME


Seeing the graduates, who represent some of the brightest and best burgeoning talent in the industry, gather to mark the culmination of a process designed to enrich their professional development, is certainly one of the highlights of BTME.

Jack Wellings, senior greenkeeper at JCB Golf and Country Club, was among the latest intake and he revealed the wide-reaching impact it has had on him.

He said: "It has completely changed me as a person in a positive way. From when we started in Ipswich to now, I feel like a different person. You go in on that first day and there's 25 people you've never met, and you come out of it thinking you've got 25 people who are going to be friends for life. I knew what I wanted before and doing this whole process has made me want it 10 times more."

BIGGA CEO Jim Croxton said: "BIGGA and Jacobsen were delighted to celebrate this year's FTMI cohort as they graduated at BTME 2024. What was most rewarding for us was seeing the close bonds they had developed in such a short time. They met in person for just two days in spring 2023, but through that experience and over the course of a series of online sessions - supported by our excellent mentors - they not only developed inavaluable skills that will aid them in their careers, but they also developed a camaraderie that was just extraordinary to witness. I have no doubt that many of this class will follow in the fottsteps of our previous graduates and forge highly successful careers in senior management positions. We are incredibly grateful to our superb tutors and mentors, and of course our partners at Jacobsen, for adding yet another chapter to the excellent FTMI legacy."

Craig Swindells, deputy head greenkeeper at Chipping Sodbury, said he is confident he now has all the tools he needs to achieve his career goals, with FTMI developing a broad range of skills geared toward management-level roles.

"There's no agronomy side to it whatsoever," he said. "It's a management-based qualification to help prepare you to make that next move up the ladder. My boss is due to reture in a few years and I've been where I am for 13 years, so it's imminent for me to move on to that next stage. This process has given me the skills I need so that when that position comes up, I'm ready to step into it."

Jack Ashall, assistant greenkeeper at Knowle, admitted his journey had been somewhat of a rollercoaster, but he ended up clear in his own mind that he was following the right path - once he had worked through some initial doubts.

He said: "I thought before I started, 'Yes, I'm going to get myself a course manager's job, that's definitely what I want to do' and then on that first day I hit a bit of a wall and I thought, 'This isn't for me, I'm quite happy being an assistant, maybe I won't bother'. I went home, slept on it, and realised that was fear talking - fear of doing the hard work and being out of my comfort zone. I pulled my socks up, reassured myself the doubt wouldn't last long, and I got on with it. Now I'm back to thinking I may not be ready yet, but it's definitely where I want to get to - a course manager position."

That ambition and sense of purpose is a common theme among the graduates, as is a desire to ensure they give something back when they are suitably placed to do so.

"We all spoke about where we see ourselves in 10 years' time and one thing that consistently came up was that we want to give back," said Michael Sparke, deputy course manager at King's Hill. "We look at how well the mentors have done for us and nearly every person said, 'I want to come back, I want to be a mentor, I want to be giving back and bringing on the next group of people'."

What is FTMI?

Each year Jacobsen and BIGGA invite 20 up-and-coming association members to participate in the Future Turf Managers Initiative (FTMI). It is an intensive training programme that has been credited with developing some of the industry's most influential course managers and head greenkeepers.

First hosted in 2013 as a two-day education event, FTMI has since expanded around the world, with similar schemes now operating in Spain, Portugal, Australia and New Zealand.

FTMI has been designed to provide practical tools and guidance to help candidates to pursue their career aspirations. Working with professional trainers, mentors, Jacobsen and BIGGA staff, graduates gain a clear understanding of what the future holds and a realistic overview of the expectations that come with the role of manager.

FTMI takes place at Ransomes Jacobsen's headquarters in Ipswich and via online education sessions and two days of education at BTME.

Candidates are selected based on an anonymous judging criterion, with the panel gaining an insight into the achievements of applicant, who must be educationally active on a national and regional level.


FTMI Class of 2023
  • Jack Ashall, Knowle
  • Will Barnes, The Berkshire
  • Kevin Butcher, Walton Heath
  • Dan Fisher, North Foreland
  • Jack Hall, Northampton
  • Oliver Kirk, Bury St Edminds
  • Stephen Mancini, Prestwick
  • Chris Naughton, The Gleneagles Hotel
  • George Nock, Enville
  • Scott Patrick, R&A Lethamhill
  • Aaron Peacock, Horsham
  • Levi Pethick, Stoneham
  • Sam Richards, Sherborne
  • Michael Sparke, King's Hill
  • Shane Stannard, Adleburgh
  • Craig Swindells, Chipping Sodbury
  • Nick Thorley, Saunton
  • James Walker, St Andrews Links Trust
  • Jack Wellings, JCB Golf and Country Club
  • Bradley White, Wentworth Club





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