Master Greenkeeper 85: Greg Fitzmaurice

16 June 2021 Feature Article

In June 2021, Greg Fitzmaurice of Hunley Hotel and Golf Club in North Yorkshire became the 85th BIGGA member to achieve the Master Greenkeeper certification.

 

When I left school I really had no idea of the career I wanted to follow. I was football mad and everything I did revolved around it. However, having tried a few jobs for short periods, I realised I needed to find something that I could put my all into.

My dad was a member at Fulford Golf Club and he arranged work experience there for me to try out greenkeeping, which sounded interesting when suggested by the careers office. I loved it and I obviously made an impression because I was was subsequently offered an apprenticeship, which I was delighted to accept. 

I went on to enjoy 12 fantastic years at Fulford and learned so much from Mark Mennell and the team in that time. Mark gave me loads of responsibility and I owe a lot to him for instilling a strong work ethic in me.

Football was still an integral part of my life and I played for the best part of 20 years for my local team at Bishopthorpe. I also helped with the running of the club for the most part as treasurer and maintaining the pitch, among other things. Friendships, rivalries, trophies, relegations, parties, trips away were all experienced and it provided me with a wonderful period in my life as well as so many life lessons.

I met Sharon, my wife to be, in 2006 and we married in 2012. We've got 2 children with Reuben 8 and Mirryn 3 and now my family rather than football, are my life. 

In 2008 an opportunity to become the head greenkeeper came up at Heworth GC, another local club, and it was the right time for me to step up.

Joining Heworth was a risk as they were in significant debt, but I thought if I could succeed there then I could succeed anywhere. Things were hard but it went well and I gained lots of confidence in my abilities and the club cleared the debt and began making good profits. Everyone was very positive about the condition of the course and the changes we made.

In 2011 I decided I wanted to learn more, so began a HNC in Golf Course Management, which I found really interesting.

At that time I gained an R&A Scholarship and things were going really well. Trips to The Open and a week in Askernish with the scholarship were amazing experiences.

I completed the HNC with Distinction and immediately began the HND in Golf Course Management, which I also achieved a distinction in on completion.

Towards the end of 2012 I was told of a position that was available at Hunley, but at the time I was happy and not looking  to move. Out of curiosity though I put in an application. Everything changed when I met with the CEO Elliot Hamilton. He had such ambitious plans for the place and was so enthusiastic, it immediately made me want to work with him.

It was hard to leave Heworth but I was able to help them recruit my replacement and I felt happy knowing the club was in good hands. I started at Hunley in 2013 and it's been an amazing journey since. 

As the course improved I found myself looking for the next challenge and so I attended the Master Greenkeeper seminar at BTME in 2017. I loved the system for auditing the whole operation of running a golf course and used it as a template to assess things at Hunley. It particularly helped to identify weaker areas in our work and also my skills.

A big moment in my career came in 2019 when I received a R&A Scholars Gold Badge, which was an incredible honour. To be recognised by our sports governing body is as good as it gets and to receive it alongside Gordon Moir from St Andrews made me so proud.

Taking on the Master Greenkeeper Certificate has without doubt developed my skills and strengthened my character. It was a difficult process and at times I felt hard done by, but I didn't want to give up and I'm delighted to have finally got the award, which should be the aim of all passionate greenkeepers.

There's still so much to look forward to and what I really enjoy doing now is passing on what I have learnt to others who are making their way in the industry.

Enhancing Hunley's reputation and championing sustainable golf course management will be my main focus now, but you never know what's around the corner in life!

Congratulations Greg on becoming Master Greenkeeper number 85! More information about the Master Greenkeeper Certificate is available here.

Author

Karl Hansell
BIGGA | Communications Executive

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