CHORLTON course manager Ian Kirwan has made a big impact at the historic Cheshire Club, which is a regular host for county events, since he took on the role in 2021.
Now Ian is delighted to be selected in the delegation for TPC Sawgrass when he was chosen to represent BIGGA Northern Region in March 2024.
Ian explained: “You have to be a member of BIGGA, and I applied to be a part of the delegation earlier in the year.
“I was informed in August that I had reached the interview stage, but only one person from each of the five regions would be selected.
“I was interviewed in Malton, North Yorkshire, by a panel of four. The panel consisted of both BIGGA and John Deere representatives, as the trip is sponsored by John Deere.
“The interview lasted approximately one hour, with questions and discussions on Sawgrass itself, the future of our industry, as well as other relevant topics.
“The interview went well, and the panel helped me feel calm and at ease from word go. I found out later that evening that I had been successful, and I was chosen to represent BIGGA Northern Region at Sawgrass in the Players Championship where we will help with course preparation and learn a lot more from greens experts.
“I began green keeping at the age of 16 as a summer helper. This was at Blundells Hill Golf Club, Rainhill, Merseyside. I served an apprenticeship at Blundells Hill Golf Club, completing NVQ 2 in Sports Turf.
“I began my Foundation Degree here, but later moved to Widnes Golf Club which is where I completed my Foundation Degree. I was promoted from Assistant Greenkeeper to Head Greenkeeper at the age of 24.
“I stayed at Widnes Golf Club until June 2021 when I became Course Manager of Chorlton-cum-Hardy Golf Club, Manchester.
“A few of the highlights along the way have been being awarded the “Turf Mech Cup” at Myerscough College which is won by the highest grading student of that year, being promoted to Head Greenkeeper at the young age of 24, being part of the tournament support team for Wentworth BMW PGA Champs 2023, as well as pushing Chorlton-cum-Hardy Golf Club forward and improving year upon year.
“I would like to thank a few people who have helped me during my career. Firstly is Tim Harrison, who was the first Head Greenkeeper I worked with. Tim was an excellent mentor, and taught me a lot of the fundamentals I still use today.
“Another person who I need to thank immensely is Chris Sheehan, former President of BIGGA. I shoe horned Chris out of retirement for six months, that was two and a half years ago.
“Chris works part time for me and is an absolutely fantastic greenkeeper and an even better person. He helped make my transition into Chorlton-cum-Hardy very easy, as there was a lot of work to do to turn the course around, and having someone who you can trust to complete the tasks given to a very high standard, alongside his experience is absolutely invaluable.
“Also I’d like to thank all involved at Chorlton-cum-Hardy, especially my two greens directors, Dan and Scott, and our Pro Dave.
”They have all supported me to go and do these kind of things and progress myself by attending BIGGA initiatives.
“This is really refreshing for me, as this hasn’t always been the case during my career.
“The last two and a half years have gone really well at Chorlton-cum-Hardy, with the course coming on leaps and bounds. Every area of the course has improved, but greens especially.
“We are always complimented on the condition and the presentation of the course, with members, guests, visitors and societies all being happy with how the course plays. I set high standards for the team, and we always stick to our philosophy of ‘No Peaking.’ This means that it doesn’t matter if it’s a Major Competition Weekend, a Monthly medal, or just a roll up, the condition of the course will always be in the best it could possibly be given conditions such as weather, man power etc.
“There has been a lot of hard work put in by the team over the last two and half years, and there’s still a lot ahead of us.
”Areas which we’ve highlighted we want to significantly improve are tees. This means over the coming years, work such as over-seeding, irrigation installation and overhaul, tee levelling and redesign will all be on the agenda.
“Other areas of importance to us are the infrastructure, such as pathway network, the irrigation system update, and eventually tree management, these will all be looked at too in order to help progress the course and the club as a whole.
“Over the last two and a half years, the board of directors and the members have been really welcoming and supportive.
“They have bought into my plans for the course, and appreciate the passion I bring to the job. At Chorlton-cum-Hardy we are all one team together, all performing together with a common goal….to take Chorlton-cum-Hardy forward. #teamchorlton.
Copy & image: Geoff Garnett