Toro’s Student Greenkeeper of the Year Awards is the original and only annual competition that recognises and supports greenkeeping talent.

For almost 40 years it has set the bar for providing knowledge, experience and networking opportunities that are unlike anything else in the industry with career-defining prizes.

Alastair Rowell (left), David Timms (National Accounts Manager), Gillian Haverson (Marketing & Communications Manager), Jon Cole (Divisional Business Manager)

Here we talk to Alastair Rowell, managing director of Reesink Turfcare, principal award sponsor, about the awards in 2024, and bring you the history of how they started.

The Toro Student Greenkeeper of the Year Awards are the industry’s most recognisable and longest standing awards for student greenkeepers and we’re always looking to ring the changes wherever possible to keep the event moving forward. 

In 2024 we introduced a new element to the Young Award winner’s prize. Now it includes a trip to America, all-expenses paid, to visit Toro’s headquarters, as well as the research and development and manufacturing plants. We felt this was important to also provide this experience to both winners, it’s an integral part in understanding the innovation that goes into these machines, how using Toro can benefit them in their careers, and witness the quality control processes.

The main award winners’ prize was also updated. Now the turf management course at The University of Massachusetts, one of the world’s most innovative universities, is online rather than in-person. We found it was quite a big ask to expect the winner to go away for nine weeks. This way they still get the opportunity to go on an all-expenses paid trip to America, but they complete the online course from home around other commitments. 

The course brings significant benefit to the winner’s personal career development and the club they work at. They will learn to convey concepts that are essential to producing and maintaining high performance turf, with an emphasis on environmental stewardship, input reduction, efficiency, and fiscal responsibility.

This is one of the biggest prizes available in the industry: the course fees alone amount to almost $3000 including tuition and all course materials, plus there’s the trip to America and a one-week work placement at a golf club at home or abroad, so it really does deliver once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the investment we make in these student greenkeepers. There are also international trips for the young award winner too, plus prizes for the runners up and those who endorse the winners’ applications. It’s an investment worth making in the futures and potential these young people demonstrate.