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Greenskeeper of the Year

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Three-Week Turf Management Graduate Named 2015 Greenkeeper of the Year

After Attending Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management School, Kristian Summerfield Receives Industry Honor

When Kristian Summerfield, a UK native living and working in the Netherlands, crossed "the pond" to attend the Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management School: Three-Week Preparatory Short Course in January 2013, he improved his turf management skills thanks to the strength of the faculty and his classmates.

"Having been able to speak to some of the world's leading experts on some of the subjects that are relevant to my course has been invaluable, and I will take this information and will implement them straight away on my golf course," he said.

Clearly, Summerfield was a man of his word. Less than two years later in December 2014, his skills and efforts were recognized when Kristian was presented with the 2015 Greenkeeper of the Year award for his work at Golfclub De Scherpenpergh.

Acceptance Speech: Greenkeeper of the Year, Kristian Summerfield

I was talking with my assistant this week and asked him whether he thought it an idea that I do my speech in Dutch, his kind response was 'Kristian, if you want them to understand you, then do it in English' so I trust his word and will unfortunately carry on in English.

Whenever I am asked about what work I do, naturally my answer is Greenkeeper. The response I get, nine times out of ten….. oh, you cut grass!!!!

As you will all be aware it is not just cutting grass, I see that almost as a bi-product of the extensive work we do under the grass canopy. So what I reply to them is, we are:

horticulturalists, agronomists, arboculturalists, biologists, chemists, plant pathologists, mycologists, geologists, meteorologists, mathematicians, irrigation techs, chemical spray techs, IT techs, mechanics. We are students, teachers, we learn, construction, golf course construction, course design, even Latin, and yes at the end of all that we cut the grass.

Any career greenkeeper will have to learn and pass on their knowledge and experience from all these subjects, and this is why any of my fellow nominees deserve this award as much as I.

It also emphasizes how lucky we are in what we do and all we can learn. Using these skills we have learnt we get to take our few dozen hectares of land and are able to mold and sculpt nature into our own little pieces of art.

We get to see our courses evolve from year to year as well as seeing our teams do the same, evolving their skillsets and building their own paths within greenkeeping.

I am eternally grateful to be so lucky as to work with some of the best greenkeepers in the UK, Europe if not the World.

I'd like to thank Gordon Irvine MG and the sadly departed Mike Holland. It was at Mill Ride where I worked with these great old school greenkeepers.

From Gordon I learnt so much and was passed down invaluable firsthand knowledge of sustainable and traditional greenkeeping at the very highest level from guys that had worked on open championship courses.

It was at Mill Ride that I first fell in love with this profession, my only regret is that I didn't stay a couple more years to soak up even more from these guys.

I would like to thank my brother, who has installed a disciplined and dedicated attitude that has helped me in life as well as work, he has a work ethic that is second to none.

It was through my brother that I learnt how you can still produce top top playing surfaces on such a tight shoestring budget, and his greens have really benefited from this forced form of traditional greenkeeping.

I would like to thank Mr. Joost Poppe and Mr. Theo ten Tije for intrusting me with their golf course, which was a brave decision at the time and I hope they feel it was a good decision.

I'd like to thank my missus Claire for putting up with me and the early starts and late finishes and for letting me rant away about greenkeeping problems I face. I am sure it's not easy being the partner of a greenkeeper.

I'd like to thank the judges for picking me as their winner of this fantastic award.

I'd lastly like to thank my team. They have been extraordinary in their willingness and desire to commit to how we do things at de Scherpenbergh. It is only through their dedication and hard work they do day in day out that I am standing here before you this evening.

Together we grow and I hope that this is the catalyst for them and I to try and reach the highest standard of greenkeeping that we all strive for. I hope I inspire them as much as they inspire me.

I would also like to dedicate this award to my friend Dave, who is terminally ill back in England but fighting it with all the spirit and heart of the football club we both love. Stay strong Dave, West Ham family.

Again thank you for this award and I will try and succeed an extremely worthy 2014 winner Koert Donkers to the very best of my abilities. I wish you all a pleasant evening, Dank Je Wel.

Speech reprinted here.




For more information about the Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management School's Three-Week Preparatory Short Course, contact Casey Sky Noon at noon@njaes.rutgers.edu or 848-932-7250.