Master Greenkeeper 79: Matthew Gourlay

29 May 2019 Feature Article
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In May 2019, Matthew Gourlay of Colbert Hills in Kansas City became the 79th BIGGA member to be awarded the Master Greenkeeper Certificate.

The name Gourlay goes back into the game's very roots in Scotland. "Gourlay" became synonymous with the best golf balls, back when they were featheries in the 1800's

My father, David W. Gourlay CGCS CCM CCE CAM CPO, was a golf course superintendent and holds the accreditation of Certified Golf Course Superintendent (CGCS), as well as having held the Master Superintendent, which is Canada's highest recognition for superintendents, in addition to numerous others. He is the general manager and chief operating officer at Boca Woods Country Club and Property Owner's Association in Boca Raton, Florida.


My grandfather, David S. Gourlay, emigrated to Canada from Scotland in 1948 and was a longtime golf course superintendent. He was also a founding member of the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association. My grandfather was a member of GCSAA for years and even achieved the GCSAA Col. John Morley Distinguished Service Award in 1987. The award is presented annually to someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the golf course superintendent's profession. 


I am married to Jenna Gourlay, and we have an 18-month-old son called Payne. He is named after Payne Stewart, because I just had to have a golf-related name for my son! 


I have been the director of golf course operations at Colbert Hills Golf Course since 2007 and have done internships at Cypress Point in California, Oakland Hills Country Club in Michigan and the United State Golf Association in Texas.


I have always thought highly of the Master Greenkeeper Certificate, having worked for Steve Cook CGCS MG. It wasn't until attending BTME for the first time in 2016 and watching a mentor, Matthew Wharton CGCS MG, being recognised that I made achieving the certificate a goal of mine. I attended BTME with Tony Girardi CGCS MG and we both walked away with a huge appreciation of the rigorous standards needed to achieve this designation. We both set forth after the 2016 BTME with the goal of each achieving the MG certificate, with Tony obtaining his last year. After receiving a few disappointing phone calls from Deb, regarding the MG exam, I was elated to have finally passed both parts in May 2019. I was almost dreading talking with Deb when she would call! 


I just really enjoy continuing to learn about the golf industry. After achieving the MG certificate, I am asking myself "what is next?" as I believe in setting goals. Goals help me achieve my highest potential, they make me stretch beyond my normal self and reach new heights. 



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Karl Hansell
BIGGA | Head of Marketing and Communications

Karl has been head of communications for BIGGA since March 2016. His duties include editing the monthly Greenkeeper International magazine, in addition to other communications activities for the association.


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