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Student Sustainability Project


R&A Scholars Sustainability Project At Askernish Golf Club

In 2009 Askernish Golf Club hosted a pilot project by the R&A - the governing body of golf - that saw Scholarship-awarded students visit the Askernish machair to experience a week of lectures, seminars, and workshops at a golf course epitomising sustainable design.

The success of that first-ever trip has resulted in the creation of The Askernish Student Sustainability Project, a twice-annual scholar’s visit to the Hebridean Isle of South Uist, that epitomises the R&A’s dedication to encouraging sustainable development and management of golf courses.

2012 Trips

In 2012 the R&A sent 12 students from the colleges to practice sustainability within course design, course maintenance and course ecology.

The programme is designed to give the best greenkeeping students from two of the best greenkeeping colleges in the UK a chance to experience ‘natural’ and ‘sustainable greenkeeping and design. Experts in greenkeeping, golf course architecture and ecology take the students through 5 days of tutoring, activities and mentoring with the objective of sending the students out into the workplace with the tools and knowledge to maintain golf courses in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. 2 students from Elmwood College, Fife, and 4 students from Myerscough College, Preston, assembled in Askernish alongside Martin Ebert (R&A Consultant Architect), Gordon Irvine (Master Greenkeeper) and Dr Keith Duff (R&A Ecologist).  

Myerscough lecturer Dr Andy Owen describes the week as being “a great opportunity to educate the students in industry techniques on restoring a golf course in a sustainable manner”. The word sustainability is used a lot in modern golf management and is often misguided in understanding and practice. Gordon Irvine MG says “the students gain the experience of the origins of greenkeeping on this trip. It gives the students the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of nature’s influence on golf courses on a golf course that has never been artificially altered.” This is a great point that Gordon makes. Golf courses across the country have been altered to the point that nature has had to adapt to our way of working, which often results in nature causing ‘problems’ for the course and vice-versa. This programme shows that golf courses can work around nature and still achieve fantastic results, and often cut costs.

The students found that the week highlights to them that “when maintaining a golf course less is more. Spending less on the golf course can give you the desired results that Greenkeepers are lead to believe will cost significantly more and that what works for one facility will not work for another.”

Dr Owen commented that “the week gives the students practical industry experience from experts in their fields, on a naturally maintained and restored golf course that puts classroom learning into practice and gets put to the test.” Gordon Irvine MG loves coming back to South Uist to see how the course he was so influential in restoring is progressing and to be able to interact with up and coming industry professionals. The students that attend the week have already worked at some high profile golf courses around the world including Loch Lomond, The Belfry and courses in Norway, USA and Belgium. They aspire to go on to move up the greenkeeping ladder as a result of their studies and see the Student Sustainability Week as being integral to achieving their goals. “Askernish GC has been so welcoming to the students and have provided a great base for the week to staged. This is a truly sustainable golf course and is also a great golf course to play” commented one of the students. 

The Colleges

Elmwood College

Elmwood College is located in Fife, Scotland - next door to St Andrews. There are full-time as well as part-time courses, work based courses, and modern apprenticeships. There is a large variety of subjects taught at Elmwood College, including land-based courses, and it is especially well known for golf and greenkeeping courses.

Myerscough College

Myerscough College is a leading centre for Sportsturf education and training in Europe and has excellent facilities supported by industry. These include a golf course, winter games pitches, and a new 3G artificial grass pitch. Student learning is also supported with an extensive library, workshops and laboratory resources and modern teaching rooms and study areas. Specialist machinery and equipment is used throughout the curriculum to support the development of student learning and understanding of the practical, technical and scientific aspects of their chosen course and career. Courses are available for all levels from First Diploma to a BSc (Hons) in Sportsturf Science and Management Degree, on a full, part-time or Online basis. Our Work based Training group offer NVQ's in the workplace from levels 2-4.

Student Advice / Course Enquiries Tel: 01995 642211
For other enquiries please contact: Main Reception
Myerscough College, Bilsborrow, Preston, Lancashire PR3 0RY

Tel: 01995 642222


Please find more information about course lecturers below;

Dr Keith Duff - CV (PDF)
Gordon Irvine MG - CV (PDF)
Martin Ebert - CV (PDF)

Student Resources

Please use or download the student resources;

Askernish Golf Club History Handout (PDF)
Dr Keith Duff Ecology Handout (PDF)
Gordon Irvine Handout (PDF)
Study Visit Checklist (PDF)

Educational Trips

In 2013 we also facilitated the Askernish UHI Golf Management Week. If you are interested in hosting an educational study trip please contact Scott Hamilton on 01878 708004 to email 

We can host field trips on the following subjects:

-Golf Management

-Course Management




-Club Management

Askernish Golf Club
Askernish, Isle Of South Uist, Outer Hebrides, Scotland, HS8 5SY.
T: +44 (0)1878 700 101 | E:

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