London, England: Amazing, incredible, life-changing were just a few of the words used by greenkeepers to describe their experience as part of this year’s John Deere TPC Sawgrass Volunteer Programme, organised in association with BIGGA and GCSAI.
Five BIGGA members and one GCSAI member from Ireland enjoyed the trip of a lifetime to the TPC Sawgrass course at Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
They had won the opportunity to join the maintenance team that helped to prepare the course for the 2015 Players Championship, won by Rickie Fowler after a three-way play-off.
The successful five from the BIGGA regions were Michael Burgin from Normanby Golf Club in North Lincolnshire; Chris McArthur from Portstewart Golf Club in Northern Ireland; Graham Down from Aldwickbury Park Golf Club in Hertfordshire; Joseph Dormer from West Sussex Golf Club; and Mike Ellis from The Point at Polzeath, Cornwall.
They were joined by GCSAI representative David Perdisatt from Naas Golf Club in Co Kildare, Ireland.
The Players Championship volunteer force is made up of over 2,200 people that make the event possible each year, assigned to one of four divisions: player services, spectator services, volunteer services and facilities.
The six United Kingdom and Ireland winners joined the greenkeeping team at the US venue for the duration of the Players Championship on the PGA Tour, courtesy of BIGGA and GCSAI partner John Deere.
“The easiest way to describe my whole TPC Sawgrass experience would be to say truly amazing,” said Burgin. “This was golf at its very best and I feel privileged to have been a part of it. The highlight of my trip had to be working on the 17th every morning as the sun came up.
“It was great to see so many people from all over the world, all working together for one special event. The energy levels and enthusiasm from everyone were unlimited, despite the 5 am starts and late finishes. A massive thank you to John Deere and BIGGA for giving me this opportunity.”
McArthur added: “What an incredible time we had. The energy from the whole staff at TPC Sawgrass was expected, but nothing could prepare me for what ensued at 4.30 am on arrival every morning. Singing, chanting and heavy metal was just the ticket to prepare us for the day ahead.
“Many thanks to BIGGA and John Deere for providing me with the opportunity to progress in my greenkeeping career.”
Perdisatt said: “A life-changing experience is the only way I could describe the 12 days away. I knew it was going to be special, but this has surpassed anything I expected.”
John Deere is an Executive Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.