Dad’ll do nicely! Greenkeeper James Dawson takes the plaudits for Oulton
Oulton Hall greenkeeper James Dawson has enjoyed quite a month: he was runner-up in the prestigious Toro Student Greenkeeper of the Year Award 2019 and he became a father for the first time.
What’s more, the 30-year-old had to break off from his paternity leave at home in Garforth to participate in the two-day competition, as his wife, Kirsty, had just given birth to their first child, Rory. All in all, as he readily admitted, it was a whirlwind couple of weeks.
Dawson said: “My boss, Mark Dring, nominated me and I was successful in the regional interviews and was chosen to go to York for the final event over two days.
“I was anxious and nervous, particularly as Kirsty had only recently given birth and I had to leave her to attend the event. I’m getting more used to dealing and meeting people now, but, even so, it was quite daunting getting up and presenting in front of a room full of people.
“It was definitely the most nerve-racking thing I’ve done. However, I really enjoyed the experience. With the qualifications I’m taking there are no yardage markers along the way to tell you how well you’re doing, so it was personally very beneficial.”
He continued: “Kirsty’s doing amazingly well with Rory – she chose the name, it wasn’t influenced by a certain Irish golfer. I was lucky that I was able to add a week’s leave to the two weeks’ paternity leave in order to help her; although, I did have to leave her for a couple of days to attend the event.”
The York-raised Dawson has been with the Leeds resort for two years and is taking his level two greenkeeping qualifications at Myerscough College, in Lancashire. He’s ambitious, but his feet are firmly on the ground, and he knows there is still a long way to go to get to the top of his profession.
“I’ve still got a lot to learn,” he admitted. “Mark’s looking to get me on to level three and I can learn an awful lot from him, particularly with regard to the mechanical side of the operation. I really enjoy working with him and at Oulton Hall – and, as it’s just 10 minutes from home, I still get to help out with Rory.”
The Toro Student Greenkeeper of the Year Awards is a national contest hosted by the British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) and sponsored by turfcare machinery manufacturer Toro, alongside its official UK distributor, Reesink Turfcare.
This year was its 31st outing, and saw a record number of nominations, meaning the finals were more keenly contested than before. Each year, a selection of the best student greenkeepers, garnered from regional interviews across the country, heads to BIGGA’s headquarters, in York, for the two-day final of the event, where they complete a variety of tasks designed to test their industry knowledge and their commitment to the profession.
Oulton Hall’s course manager, Mark Dring, added: “I was delighted to be able to nominate James and was not at all surprised to hear of his success. He’s very hard-working and professional and is always keen to learn. All I can say is that the guy who beat him must be something very special.”
Along with Oulton Hall’s renowned golf academy, the top venue offers a range of other facilities aimed at fine-tuning the swing, while the Claret Jug course restaurant is the ideal place to re-energise after a long day on the course. Its unique 18th-century former family mansion is the perfect choice for a hotel, with landscaped gardens, sweeping spiral staircases and a state-of-the-art spa.
Rory McIlroy bemoans ‘ugly year’ and seeks solution to divide in golf world
The arrival of Saudi-backed LIV Golf series has fractured the game in 2022.
On this day in 2014 – Europe retain Ryder Cup with Gleneagles victory
The Gleneagles victory was Europe’s eighth win in 10 matches.
‘Is this where I am going to die?’ Nicolas Colsaerts on kidney disorder battle
The Belgian is the focus of attention this week as he belatedly defends the Cazoo Open de France title he won three years ago.
On this day in 2008: Ryder Cup misery in Louisville for Nick Faldo’s Europe team
Faldo was heavily criticised for his tactics in the closing singles.
Open champion Cameron Smith wins first LIV trophy in just second start
The world number two is the highest-ranked player to join the rebel series.
Robert MacIntyre beats Matt Fitzpatrick in play-off to win Italian Open
MacIntyre birdied the first extra hole at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, the venue for next year’s Ryder Cup.
Matt Fitzpatrick holds narrow lead ahead of final round at Italian Open
Rory McIlroy and Aaron Rai are one shot off the pace.
Rory McIlroy picks up the pace to claim lead ahead of Matt Fitzpatrick in Rome
McIlroy’s group looked unlikely to complete their second rounds after taking three hours to play nine holes.
Matt Fitzpatrick leads way at Italian Open despite ‘inconsistent’ display
The US Open champion held a one-shot lead over fellow Englishman Tom Lewis,
Rory McIlroy rues a late night until eagle gets him flying in Italian Open
The four-time major winner was only a shot behind leader Matt Fitzpatrick after the first round of the Rome event.