Since 2004, The R&A has been awarding scholarships as a contribution towards the costs incurred by greenkeeping students at two colleges in the UK; SRUC Elmwood (Fife) and Myerscough (Lancashire). Since that time, we have supported over 160 students undertaking higher level education (HNC and above). Approximately 60% of these students are from outside Great Britain & Ireland with 20 different countries represented including China, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, India, Nepal, Slovenia, South Africa and the USA. R&A Scholars are often the highest achievers on their courses and, to date, The R&A has contributed over £500,000 towards funding their higher education.
R&A Scholars are our ambassadors in the greenkeeping world; we remain in touch with many who have gone on to forge successful careers in the golf industry, helping to spread our message of sustainable course development and management. Here are the stories of two of our alumni.
In 2010 Richard decided to change career from teaching English as a foreign language in Malaysia to working in the sports turf industry back home in Scotland. After a spring and summer maintaining cricket pitches and other school sports grounds, he began studying for a qualification in golf course management at SRUC Elmwood.“
I wouldn't be in this position without the help of The R&A
Before starting, the College told Richard about the R&A scholarship and he applied immediately. As he had only about 6 months experience in turf management at the time, he didn't think he stood a chance of receiving a scholarship. Much to his surprise, however, he was selected and comments, “It just goes to show that the R&A Greenkeeping Scholarship really is open to anyone, and there are no barriers if you are well enough motivated”. During the college summer holidays he spent the season as an assistant greenkeeper on his home village course at the Golf House Club, Elie.
“I know for sure that the scholarship provided the inspiration to continue studying to HND level”, said Richard. He continued: “The opportunities and networking available from being an R&A Scholar mean that changing careers has been the best thing I could ever have done.
The advice from The R&A, not to mention the other scholars, and the confidence this instils is completely invaluable.
It's something you can lean on for the rest of your career, and wherever you may end up in the world, there will probably be another R&A scholar somewhere close by.”
Richard now works for the Golf Environment Organization, helping clubs all over the world bring sustainability to their daily management, and become recognised as positive environmental and community assets. “I wouldn't be in this position without the help of The R&A”, Richard concludes.“
The R&A has made it possible for me to live my dream
Neville Wenhold is from South Africa and after deciding on a career in turf management, and with no formal education on the subject available in South Africa, he enrolled on a course at Elmwood College. An R&A Scholarship facilitated his education abroad but in May 2011, after two years at Elmwood, he returned to South Africa, where he took on the role of Assistant Greenkeeper at the Gary Player Country Club (GPCC). Here he helped in the preparation for the Nedbank Golf Challenge in 2011 and 2012.
Neville was appointed as the Lost City Golf Course (LCGC) manager at the end of 2012 but has been able to continue his education, and his R&A Scholarship, through the online Foundation Degree in Sportsturf’ at Myerscough College.
His time to date at the LCGC has been, in his own words “nothing short of unbelievable, a dream come true and a wonderful learning curve”.
Neville adds: “The opportunity given by the R&A over the past 4 years has meant a lot, enabling me to network globally with specialists in the industry and it helped me acquire my current position at one of South Africa’s best golf courses. The R&A has made it possible for me to live my dream of becoming a well-known golf turf specialist in South Africa.”
Thanks to his pioneering spirit and the help of The R&A, Neville has inspired other turf managers to enrol for online education, positively contributing towards a rapidly growing turf industry in South Africa.