Since returning from Harrogate, England the outpouring of support has been humbling to say the least. I admit I wasn't originally planning to blog about the trip, but many members at last week's Annual Meeting asked me to share, and once President Hilaire gave his address which included recognizing my achievement and the following standing ovation, how could I not. So let's travel back in time, actually it's just two weeks to when I was awarded the Master Greenkeeper Certificate by the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association.
Our journey began on Saturday, January 14th. We flew from Charlotte to Philadelphia late that afternoon then departed Philadelphia and flew overnight to Manchester, England. We arrived just before 8:30 am on Sunday morning, January 15th and I had prearranged car travel from Manchester to Harrogate where we would be staying. Our accommodations for the week was The Majestic Hotel.The trip of a lifetime has finally arrived! Departing later today for @BIGGA_BTME! #HereWeComeUK 🇬🇧#BTME2017— Matthew Wharton (@CGCGreenkeeper) January 14, 2017
🛫 CLT > PHL > MAN
|Cottage Homes Overlooking The Stray|
|Trying to "Blend In"|
Leave it to me to be nerdy and seek out some turf while exploring the town. Harrogate was originally a "Spa Town" containing bath houses and natural springs known for their healing properties. In the latter part of the 20th century the city reinvented itself as a major convention center with the Harrogate International Centre. Surrounded by traditional shops and restaurants, the HIC truly is a fabulous venue for meetings and exhibitions. As our day drew to a close I was excited to experience the largest professional turf management conference outside of the U.S.
|Harrogate International Centre|
|The Royal Hall|
The Royal Hall was where I gathered early Tuesday morning to hear golf course superintendent Neil Cleverly from the Olympic Course give a no holds barred account of all that went into building, growing-in, and presenting the Olympic Course for the 2016 Olympic Games. Neil's story was truly a riveting adventure and inspiring to think of all the obstacles he and his team had to overcome.
The interior of the Royal Hall is simply breathtaking and it is impossible to adequately describe its beauty. All I can say is I was excited knowing I would be on that very stage later that same evening. I attended a seminar after lunch with good friend Rodney Hine from Boston Golf Club. Rodney and I attended the 2015 Syngenta Business Institute together and it was awesome to see him and a few other friends across the pond attending BTME courtesy of TurfNet.
Our Master of Ceremony for the evening was the witty and charming Naga Munchetty, journalist and golf lover from the BBC. Her sense of humor and quick delivery kept everyone entertained throughout the evening. She was first class all the way and accommodated numerous photo requests following the proceedings, even ours. David Callanan, MG, CGCS and I were just relieved she didn't ask us any questions on stage!
|BIGGA Chairman Les Howkins, MG Presenting Award|
|MG No. 39 & MG No. 69|
|Mrs. Greenkeeper & Naga Munchetty|
|David Callanan, MG, CGCS (MG No. 71)|
A few other highlights of our trip included reconnecting with former employee, James Dennet and finally meeting in person a few Turf Twitter connections in Dr. John Dempsey and Lickey Hills GC Greenkeeper Dave Collins.
Wonderful evening sharing a pint & catching up with James Dennett, AKA @AdaGreenkeeper! Worked for me @CGC1929 in 2013 & 2014. #BTME2017 pic.twitter.com/4feiwohzmX— Matthew Wharton (@CGCGreenkeeper) January 16, 2017
The Doctor is in @BIGGA_BTME! Pleasure finally meeting & talking turf with @J_J_Dempsey and his wife Mary! Thanks for the coffee. #BTME2017 pic.twitter.com/uMI1n6trb0— Matthew Wharton (@CGCGreenkeeper) January 17, 2017
There were many other great memories and I met so many wonderful people, but I would be remiss if I didn't recognize one very special couple. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Sami Strutt, Head of Member Development for BIGGA and her husband Lee (MG No. 31). Lee and I were in the same GCSAA CGCS graduating class three years ago and the two of them along with Mrs. Greenkeeper pushed me to see this process through. We celebrated the occassion with a traditional English dinner at the beautiful William and Victoria restaurant in the heart of Harrogate.Was a true pleasure to finally meet @greenkeeperdave from @LickeyHillsGolf here @BIGGA_BTME! Another #TurfTwitter connection. #BTME2017 pic.twitter.com/jBAqnTs7Ix— Matthew Wharton (@CGCGreenkeeper) January 18, 2017
Overall the entire trip was a very humbling and emotional experience. The award will forever serve as a constant reminder to never be complacent and strive for more. I am so glad we decided to make the effort to journey over and experience BTME in person, and I promised everyone we will return some day. It's good to be home, however I have one more business trip before the growing season returns. I am headed to Orlando, Florida next week for this year's Golf Industry Show. For those of you following on Twitter I will be sure to share some of the experience with you, and when I get back I look forward to seeing you out on the course.Special thank you again to @leestruttmg & Sami! No better way to cap off an amazing week in Harrogate than dinner w/ dear friends! #BTME2017 pic.twitter.com/pCQhFfLc7w— Matthew Wharton (@CGCGreenkeeper) January 19, 2017
Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG