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Want to be a greenkeeper?
Want to be a greenkeeper?
Contact: Sammi Collins, British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association
Tel: 01347 833800

Looking for a career that combines sport, science and physical work? If so greenkeeping could be for you.

Taking responsibility for some of the country's finest golf courses is a demanding but rewarding job.

You can enter the profession through either an academic or vocational route, but most people choose a combination of both.

Below is a rundown of the courses available and some suggested career paths.

First diploma - Minimum age: 16

An introduction to Sports turf, this one-year full-time course is aimed at school leavers who want to combine a practical-based training programme with sound theoretical knowledge.

This is a first-level course which could lead to opportunities as an assistant green keeper, or provide access to a National Certificate or National Diploma course.

The course usually includes a period of workplace experience and often incorporates assessment of some areas of craft level vocational qualification

Masters degree

Most areas of Britain now offer a government-backed, structured route for entry into the profession, leading to standard N/SVQ work-based qualifications.

The main difference for a modern apprentice is that the training and employment is guaranteed in a contract made between the apprentice, the employer and the training provider.

Government funding may be available, so check with your training provider.

National certificate - Minimum age: 16

This one-year practical programme is available on a full-time or part-time basis. Both options involve learning a wide range of practical skills while providing background theoretical knowledge.

The full-time National Certificate course is suitable as progression for successful first diploma students who wish to follow a practical course to further their education.

National diploma

This course is suitable for students intending to receive supervisory and junior management positions in the profession or sports turf industry. It's an alternative to A-levels and considered good preparation for those wishing to progress into higher education.

The duration of the course varies according to the number and length of workplace elements, but it usually lasts for two or three years.

Entry requirements:
For specific entry requirements contact your chosen provider, but generally four GCSE's at grade C or above, or a first certificate, ore a first diploma are required.

Higher National Certificate - Minimum age: 18

This two-year part-time course is most suitable for green keepers who have proven practical experience and who wish to gain a higher level qualification whilst remaining in employment.

It generally involves intensive block release periods at college.

Higher National Diploma - Minimum age: 18

A three-year full-time sandwich course which includes work placement for those seeking careers in golf course management.

The HND is designed to equip students with the technical and managerial skills needed for senior positions in the profession.

Entry requirements:
For specific entry requirements contact your chosen training provider, but generally either two A-levels (or equivalent), or a National Diploma.

Scottish/National Vocational Qualification

Vocational qualifications show that the holder can do a particular job at a particular level. Each vocational qualification has three components:

  • Theory/knowledge
  • Principles of green keeping and course management
  • Competence

Whereas theory and principle elements can be measured in the classroom, competence can only be measured at work on the golf course. Throughout Britain there are currently about 1,000 green keeper assessors qualified to do exactly that.

College courses are usually studied on a part-time basis on either block or day release. There is also the opportunity for distance learning programmes to be taken via the internet.

N/SVQ Sportsturf Level Two

  • Craft level knowledge and skills
  • Assessed at work

N/SVQ Sportsturf Maintenance Level Three

  • Further knowledge and greenkeeping skills, supervisory knowledge and skills
  • Assessed at work

N/SVQ Sportsturf Maintenance Level Four

  • Golf course management knowledge and skills
  • Assessed at work

Foundation degree

The Foundation Degree is a two-year, full-time course.

Previous experience is formally recognised, so this course is suitable for those with few academic qualifications but substantial work-based experience.

As the name suggests, the foundation degree provides the platform to further study at BSc or MSc levels.

First degree - Minimum age: 18

This is A four-year full-time sandwich course with the second year spent in the workplace, often overseas.

The first degree is focussed on turf science and applied technology.

Entry requirements:
A minimum of two A-levels (or equivalent) preferably including a science-related subject, or a national diploma.

Masters degree

This course is the first Master of Science qualification in Europe in sports surface technology.

Entry requirements:
First degree in science, engineering management or a land-based discipline.

Experienced green keepers will also be considered.

Suggested career path

You're 16 years old with five or six GCSE's and an ambition to become a greenkeeper.

Sound familiar? If so you have several options, one of which is a two-year National Diploma. The course comprises 18 months of study and six months on the golf course.

Once completed, you'll be ready to take a job as an assistant greenkeeper. At the same time, an NVQ Level Two (or equivalent) in sports turf will equip you to progress to the next level.

Now aged 20, your options remain wide open. But if you're enjoying work and want to keep earning, you could take a job as a first assistant greenkeeper.

In this job you can expect to earn 16-18,000 per year, whilst working towards NVQ Level Three.

A couple more years down the line, and armed with four years experience and NVQ Levels two and three, you're ready for your next challenge.

A university degree or Higher National Diploma remain as options, or you could opt for a promotion - and another big pay rise - by taking a job as head greenkeeper.

After a few challenging but rewarding years on the golf course, you're eyeing the big prize - and job as course manager.

To achieve that, you'll dust off the books and head to university to study for your Masters. Once you've got that, the world of greenkeeping is your oyster.


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