Toro and Reesink working with the R&A on apprenticeship scheme

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The idea behind the R&A’s Golf It! initiative was to create a space that introduces people to and promotes the game of golf while proactively giving back to the local community through an apprenticeship programme sponsored by The Toro Foundation.

“The R&A’s original idea was to provide a facility where people in inner city Glasgow could play golf,” says Andy Brown, senior manager of global business development and relationships at The Toro Company. “But we realised there was also the opportunity to introduce the concept of greenkeeping as a possible career choice via an apprenticeship scheme, too.”

Golf It! apprentices Anton Sheilds (left) and Lucy Millar.

Golf It! was developed in 2020 by the R and A.

Developed by the R&A in 2020 to make golf as welcoming and affordable as possible, the facility has grown into a multi-layered experience for all the family with pitch and putt, adventure golf, putting greens and a driving range, and a greenkeeping team was needed to upkeep the venue to the highest of standards.

Andy continues: “Toro was approached to become a founding partner which we agreed to in conjunction with Reesink UK. Toro provides the turfcare machinery and irrigation system required to maintain the playing surfaces at the facility and Reesink provides the support and training via its Livingston branch in Scotland.

“But taking our involvement one step further, we are now sponsoring two apprentices every year for five years. There are currently four apprentices in place and they’re doing very well in their education and getting lots of experience. They’ve had the opportunity to go to America and were on the tournament team for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Florida this March.”

Russell Smith, general manager of Golf It!, says: “Community is everything at Golf It! and we’re incredibly proud of our two first recruits Anton Sheilds and Lucy Millar. They see this as the life-changing career opportunity it is and have grabbed hold of it, embraced everything we are trying to achieve and surpassed every goal and expectation.

“It’s has been the same with Toro, they bought into the concept of Golf It! immediately and their support in delivering our goals has been invaluable. We’re thrilled they partnered with us on our apprenticeship scheme, actively funding two roles a year for five years.

“Toro machines keep our course and range pristine, and they are helping us create a bright future for young people in our immediate area. This is what partnerships SHOULD be about – teaming up to make the world a better place for those who may face limited opportunities otherwise.”

Bordering the Seven Loch Wetland Park, Scotland’s largest urban heritage and nature park, the initiative is keen to promote sustainability, making Toro a natural partner.

Andy says: “The R&A, like Toro, is extremely focused on sustainability, so part of our commitment was to get as many hybrid and electric machinery options onto the site to reduce its carbon footprint print and provide an irrigation system that would manage its water effectively.”

This is just the start for the Golf It! initiative, as those involved consider how it can be rolled out across the country to benefit more local communities.