What springs to mind when you think about the Outer Hebrides? The first thing probably isn’t golf and you certainly wouldn’t think of as being a mecca for aspiring industry professionals. However, Askernish Golf Club teamed up with the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) during March to allow 12 BA (hons) Golf Management students the chance to put everything they learn during their academic career to the test. The R&A part funded the trip with the Scottish Golf Union (SGU) and Scottish Golf Environment Group (SGEG) getting involved with the week.
The week consisted of golf course ecology, sustainable design and maintenance, and business planning. Most academic trips consists of a lot of talking and a lot of listening but this one was different. With the help of some industry professionals the students were put to work. Their objective for the week was to produce an Operational Plan for the club that included a Habitat Plan, Sustainability Plan, Maintenance Plan and Business Plan and present these to the golf club at the end of the week.
In order to get to this stage they were split into 4 groups. They spent a day with Lynn Jopling, Environmental Advisor with SGEG looking at matters concerning ecology on golf courses, specific issues Askernish GC faces and methods of using environmental factors to your own advantage in terms of reducing financial expenditure and reusing the natural resources available to you, the club manager. They spent a day with John Kemp, Club Development Officer with the SGU and graduate in Golf Management and Golf Design degrees, designing new tee positions for the key demographics of Askernish GC. They spent a day with Askernish GC Head Greenkeeper, Allan MacDonald, building a new 18th tee and they spent a day with John Kemp and Scott Hamilton, Askernish Development Manager, working through the SGU’s framework for building a successful business out of a golf club.
On the final day they presented their plans to each other, the tutors and most importantly the Golf Club. The SGU has worked extremely hard over the past year to implement training courses, seminars and workshops to help benefit the Scottish Golf Industry as a whole. In the space of one week a group of students have managed to produce four business plans for a functional golf facility, of genuine quality using the SGU framework. This shows the quality of student that the UHI is producing and also how appropriate and effective the SGU’s training is.