Bernhard Delegates: Where are they now?

Posted on June 03, 2013 at 11:55 AM

In August Greenkeeper International will be inviting BIGGA members to apply for selection to the 2014 Delegation in Orlando, USA for the Golf Industry Show. It’s a fabulous shared experience, an opportunity to build new friendships and make new business contacts, but most importantly a priceless tool for learning, educating, training and growing. Don’t just take our word for it. GI spoke to some of the delegates from the last decade to find out how much the trip influenced them professionally and personally…


Matt Plested, 2006 Delegate

THEN: Deputy, Old Ford Manor Golf Club

NOW: Course Manager, Muswell Hill Golf Club

A year after my trip, I secured my first Course Managers position at Muswell Hill and the Bernhard Delegation certainly helped – I was told it made my CV stand out. It’s a fantastic, amazing experience. The professionalism I saw in the States motivated me to incorporate some of their ideas into my club when I returned home. I learnt so much. It’s also fantastic from a personal point of view. My roommate was Greg Skinner, who’s now at Forest Hill Golf & Country Club, and we had a real laugh and became good mates. Not only that, we still speak to each other about issues on our courses and help solve problems – all this as a result of that one week.

Jaime Acton, 2013 Delegate

THEN: Head Greenkeeper, Worlebury Golf Club

NOW: Golf Course Manager, Rushmore Golf Club

I had no idea just how much the trip would impact on me both professionally and personally. I feel it has given me the confidence to hold my own professionally, to push myself more in new situations and to move my career to the next level. A few months ago I was offered a new job and took on the challenge of running a lovely propriety club set in ancient parkland on a private estate. The Show, seminars and site visits we all attended in the States gave me a real thirst to improve myself.

Les Howkins MG, 2004 Delegate

THEN: Head Greenkeeper, Cleethorpes Golf Club

NOW: Course Manager, The Richmond Golf Club

I remember thinking on my trip that the US were much more advanced in certain areas, although I do feel we’ve caught up now. I recall we went to a seminar discussing absolutely everything about Primo, which at that time was unavailable in the UK. This meant that when Primo did become available over here, I had a head start over other greenkeepers and wasn’t afraid to use it because I was very well informed about it. The Golf Industry Show was also an amazing experience; the scale of it was colossal.

Another thing that sticks in my mind is one of the course visits to a course called The Bridges. They had 55 staff and 14 gardeners looking after an 18-hole course, and they couldn’t believe how few staff we had in comparison! You’re looked after so well while you’re out there and I can’t imagine why a greenkeeper would not want to apply to join the delegation.

Gordon McKie, 2003 Delegate

THEN: Head Greenkeeper, The Eden Course, St Andrews

NOW: Course Manager, The Old Course, St Andrews

The ten years since I went has flown by but I still remember so many elements of the trip. A real highlight for me was the educational side, I recall attending a GCSAA Seminar on Communications, which I found particularly useful, and I referred back to it repeatedly as my career progressed.

I also learnt a lot from the guys I travelled with. We were all able to offer advice to each other, and we really built up a great camaraderie between us. Several of us still stay in touch now, either meeting at BTME or on Facebook or Twitter. I’ve no doubt that the whole experience really enhanced my career.

Ian Kinley, 2006 Delegate

THEN: Course Manager, The Glen Golf Club

NOW: Course Manager, Royal Porthcawl Golf Club

I went to Atlanta and the key for me was the feeling that you’re getting involved not just in the American perspective on course maintenance, but the world. Lifetime friendships were made on that trip; you spend a lot of time with the other delegates and get to know them really well and exchange opinions and ideas.


Keep an eye out for a special wraparound application form in Greenkeeper International in August.