Continue to Learn Conference 2024 - Day 1

9:00AM - 5:00PM, 22 Jan 2024

Day one of the two‑day conference programme. Sessions are typically 40 to 60 minutes in length and there will usually be two sessions taking place at the same time, so you can choose which you would like to attend. The exceptions to this are the first and last sessions of the day, enabling all conference delegates to attend these.

Continue to Learn 2024 - Conference Day 1

Navigating multi-generational dynamics for a thriving team

This captivating session is aimed at providing a lively and research-informed exploration of the new world of work. BIGGA members operate in a workforce that increasingly includes up to four generations, each with its own distinct ambitions, aspirations and working styles. Moreover, the advent of AI and robotics is reshaping job roles, while the rise of the ‘attention economy’ is demanding new strategies for engaging and connecting with customers and employees.

The session will include: an overview of the four working generations and an insight into their characteristics, enabling you to foster greater understanding and collaboration; tips on understanding and attracting Millennials and Generation Z to the profession; and practical tips and strategies to motivate, inspire and unite a multi-generational team. Advice will be given on how managers can improve their team’s focus and concentration for longer periods and the benefits of ‘reverse’ mentoring to bridge the generation gap.

Learning outcomes:

  • Gain actionable and research-based insights that delegates can implement within their teams
  • Be equipped with the tools to foster a thriving and cohesive team, ensuring the continued success of the greenkeeping profession in a rapidly evolving world

Presented by:

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Dr Paul Redmond

Director of student experience and enhancement University of Liverpool

Dr Paul Redmond, author, keynote speaker, employment guru, is one of the UK’s leading experts on generational change and the future of work. As an in-demand speaker, each year Paul presents at numerous conferences and events around the world, helping organisations and professionals acquire the skills and knowledge to thrive in today’s multi-generational workplace.

Paul writes regularly for national newspapers and other publications and is a frequent guest on radio and TV programmes, appearing regularly on the BBC and independent current affairs shows.
Currently the Director of Student Experience and Enhancement at the University of Liverpool, Paul has held visiting lectureships at various leading universities and has been responsible for guiding the careers of thousands of students and graduates. Paul’s research into ‘Generation Z,’ the post-Covid world of work, the rise of ‘Zombie Jobs’ (the theme of his recent TED talk), techniques for building excellent inter-generational communications, and ‘Helicopter Parents’ has garnered him praise and respect from a range of national and international organisations.

Paul is the author of numerous books, reports and studies, including the best-selling ‘The Graduate Jobs Formula,’ and the highly popular diary column for the UK’s Institute of Student Employers’ magazine. Paul is currently working on his new book, ‘The Rise of the Zombie Jobs’ – which will reveal, for the first time, those jobs and careers that are most likely to be lost to AI and robotics – and those that (for now) are likely to be safe. In recognition of his writing and research, Paul was awarded a Fellowship of the British Royal Society of Arts.


Operation pollinator at Corhampton

In this session, Operation Pollinator sponsor, Syngenta's Glenn Kirby, will discuss how the team at the Hampshire club has embraced the Operation Pollinator initiative to provide rare habitats for at-risk pollinator species.

Corhampton is a two-time Syngenta Operation Pollinator Award winner at the Golf Environment Awards. The judges were impressed by the transformation of chalk scrapes into butterfly habitats, including the rare Small Blue, which has established a thriving population on the downland course. A group of members who are ecology enthusiasts now take part in butterfly walks every month and all sightings are recorded.

Glenn will also discuss how Corhampton has received an additional grant as part of this award to help fund ecological and environmental projects. Operation Pollinator is the culmination of more than 15 years’ research by Syngenta into the environmental management of habitats for bumblebees, butterflies, spiders, beetles and other insects, backed by STRI trials, the support of independent ecologists and research on commercial golf courses across the UK.

Learning outcomes:

  • Helping your club members and wider public embrace ecology and move projects forwards
  • Applying for grants
  • Surrounding yourself with the correct people to produce the best results

Presented by:

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Glenn Kirby

Technical Manager Syngenta

Glenn worked his way through the greenkeeping career path for 25 years, gaining experience and qualifications in the UK, Europe and the USA. He's been in his current role at Syngenta for over three years supporting customers and sharing his experience with the industry.


Understanding and working with your Board

This session will provide the attendee with an understanding of why boards behave the way they do. It will then suggest effective behaviour to interact with the board in order to progress in your role.

Gavin Robinson progressed from the role of PGA professional into director of golf and club management positions. He recently completed a postgraduate qualification in governance and believes that a better understanding of governance will help BIGGA members gain better access to their club’s resources.

Learning outcomes:

•            Understand a board’s responsibilities

•            Understand board activities

•            Defining the role of the general manager

•            Developing positive relationships with the general manager and board and learning how to ‘manage upwards’

•            Defining your role within golf club governance


Presented by:

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Gavin Robinson

Club Manager Purley Downs Golf Club

Having progressed through the role of PGA Pro into Director of Golf. and Club Manager roles, I have recently completed a Postgrad in Governance. A better understanding of club governance will help BIGGA members get better access to the clubs resources.


Biodiversity net gain and golf

Biodiversity net gain is the practice of ensuring that a site has a higher biodiversity value after a development compared to the biodiversity value before the development. In the context of golf courses, this involves creating and enhancing natural habitats such as wetlands and woodlands to mitigate for biodiversity lost on the site due to a development.

Biodiversity net gain will play an important role in halting the decline of habitats and their associated wildlife species on golf courses. By considering the needs of local ecosystems and communities, golf courses can provide more habitats of a larger size, which will increase connectivity, while creating a more enjoyable playing experience for golfers.

Stella Rixon is an experienced agronomic consultant with over 20 years’ experience. Based in the south east of England, she provides agronomic advice to a wide range of clients including golf, tennis, bowls, cricket, airfields and private lawns. Her advice is supported by the wealth of research and knowledge within STRI Group.

Learning outcomes:

•            Learn about biodiversity values

•            The importance of golf’s impact on biodiversity

•            Achieving biodiversity net gain at your course

•            The benefits of biodiversity net gain for golfers

Presented by:

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Stella Rixon

Senior Turfgrass Agronomist STRI Group


Ten Rules for leadership and balance

Hazeltine National’s course superintendent Chris Tritabaugh will share the ten rules he uses to lead his team and keep a good balance between work and life.

In his 16 years as a golf course superintendent, Chris has worked hard to develop and fine tune a simplistic method of greenkeeping, predominantly aimed at promoting and managing bentgrass playing surfaces. These simple and economical methods were on display to the world during the 2016 Ryder Cup. Chris also has a passion for leadership and operates a workplace culture that is focused on providing multi-generational employees with an enjoyable, stimulating and inspirational experience.

Learning outcomes:

•            Be more present, at work and at home

•            Turn criticism into motivation

•            Leadership methods to get the most from the entire team

•            Improve your mental and physical health and your golf course

Presented by:

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Chris Tritabaugh

Golf Course Superintendent Hazeltine National Golf Club

Since 2013 Chris Tritabaugh has been the Golf Course Superintendent at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota. In 2016 Hazeltine played host to the 41st Ryder Cup matches, and in 2019 Hazeltine hosted the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. In the coming years the Club will host the 2024 US Amateur Championship and in 2029 will become the first American club to host a second Ryder Cup. In 16 years as a Golf Course Superintendent, Chris has worked hard to develop and fine tune a simplistic method of greenkeeping, predominantly aimed at promoting and managing bentgrass playing surfaces. These simple and economical methods were on display to the world during the 2016 Ryder Cup. Chris also has a passion for leadership and leads a work-place culture focused on providing multi-generational employees with an enjoyable, stimulating and inspirational experience.

Chris is a 2001 graduate of the University of Minnesota. He and his wife Lindsay have three children: Olive (15), Penelope (13) and Edwin (3). 


Plant-soil-microbe interactions under drought stress

How roots extract water and nutrients from soil is influenced by the biophysical properties of the rhizosphere (the soil region closest to the roots), the root exudates and mucilage, the inherent connectivity to soil particles and porosity and the soil microbial interactions. Significant scientific advances have been made toward understanding these phenomena in the past five years, with further insight gained into the importance of the rhizosphere in maintaining plant function and performance under abiotic stress such as drought.

Dr Stan Kostka and Dr Mike Fidanza are both considered world-leading scientists within the subject of turfgrass ecosystems and have spent decades conducting research and developing technologies.

The goal of this session is to provide turfgrass and course managers a primer on these recent advances and their implications to sustainable turf management practices in a changing environment.

Learning outcomes:

•            Turf managers will be familiarised with new discoveries on plant-root-soil connectivity and its impact on turf resilience under stress

•            The importance of root to soil connectivity will be introduced

•            The consequences of disruption of root to soil connectivity will be illustrated

•            Insights on management strategies

Presented by:

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Dr Stan Kostka

Visiting Scholar Pennsylvania State University

Dr. Stan Kostka, a Visiting Scholar at Penn State – Berks, is a leader in the development of compounds and products to modify the rhizosphere and enhance soil-plant-water relations.

Stan has spent over 25 years leading industry discovery and technology development programs with the goal of understanding how surfactants and other compounds may be used to manage soil water repellency, improve water use, and enhance performance of input chemistries in turfgrass.

He has over 40 publications in the field and holds 15 patents relating to the use of surfactants and polymer technologies to modify soil and rhizosphere properties.
As a globally recognized expert, Stan has been an invited speaker at numerous technical meetings globally in the fields of turfgrass and soil science.

Stan received his PhD in Plant Pathology from the University of Massachusetts, a MS in Plant Science from the University of Connecticut, and a BA in Biology from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA.

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Dr Mike Fidanza

Professor of plant and soil science Pennsylvania State University

Dr. Michael ("Mike") Fidanza is a Professor of Plant and Soil Science at Penn State Berks Campus. His research and teaching focus is plant and soil ecology, the translational evaluation and exploration of plant health products (fungicides, herbicides, plant growth regulators), soil surfactants, seed technology, mushroom compost, biostimulants, turfgrass physiology, cultural practices in turfgrass ecosystems, and the biology and ecology of fairy ring disease in turf.

He is the Director of Penn State's Center for the Agricultural Sciences and a Sustainable Environment, and is a Fellow in the American Society of Agronomy. He teaches undergraduate courses in biology, horticulture, soils, turfgrass science, and a graduate course in plant physiology. He was past president of the Northeastern Branch of the American Society of Agronomy (2013-2017), and past Chair of Division C-5 (Turfgrass Science) of the Crop Science Society of America (2018). He was Editor-in-chief of the International Turfgrass Society Research Journal (2010-2013). He was a member of the USGA Green Section Research Committee (2010 - 2017).


Making the world a better place for greenkeepers

Staffing, working conditions, pay, club management, committees, members, budgets, climate change, product availability, resources; the problems facing our industry are many and varied.

As the representative body of greenkeepers in the UK, BIGGA is the only organisation whose ambition is to address all of these challenges and improve the lives of its members by so doing.

During 2023 BIGGA’s Board and staff have been refining the Association’s overall strategy to better meet the challenges greenkeeping faces.

In this session Jim will explain the motives behind the new strategy and discuss the progress made and future ambitions for BIGGA’s aims of improving the respect and appreciation of greenkeepers and future-proofing the profession. With the help of data gathered during 2023 Jim will also outline how the Association will work collaboratively with industry bodies and its own members to achieve success.

Learning Outcomes:

-             The challenges facing the greenkeeping industry and the keys to meeting them

-             Hear about the new BIGGA Strategy for 2024-2027 and understand the areas of focus

-             What part individual greenkeepers can play in improving the industry

Presented by:

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Jim Croxton

Chief Executive Officer

Contact Jim

Jim has been CEO of BIGGA since 2011 and is a passionate campaigner working on behalf of the UK's greenkeepers. Having grown up on a golf course, Jim has a lifelong passion for the golfing industry and he regularly speaks to the leaders at all of golf's governing bodies to promote greater respect and improving working conditions for golf's greenkeepers.


Nutrient removal in clippings – how much am I losing?

This session will cover the loss of nutrients through clipping removal. When you carry clippings to the dump, how much N, P and K (and other nutrients) are getting tossed? Professor Elizabeth Guertal will get down to some numbers and briefly discuss how you can roughly calculate the nutrient loss for your own facility.

Elizabeth taught and undertook turfgrass research at Auburn University in Alabama for 28 years. She retired in June 2022 and now works for Kansas State University in an international position. She works, writes and teaches in the area of turfgrass management, with a specialisation in soils, soil fertility and fertilisers of turfgrass.

Learning outcomes:

  • Gain an understanding of the nutrient loss caused by the removal of clippings and consider tactics to offset or replace this to ensure the continued health of your turfgrass

Presented by:

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Professor Elizabeth Guertal PhD

Professor Auburn University

For 28 years I taught and did turfgrass research at Auburn University (in Alabama). I retired in June, 2022 and now work for Kansas State University in an international position. I do work, write and teach in the area of turfgrass management, with a specialization in soils, soil fertility and fertilizers of turfgrass.


Understanding the value of a turf equipment technician

This session will aim to educate the audience by uncovering the real value of turf equipment technicians (TET). James Wilkinson and Chris Minton will outline the main purpose of this critical role and how the TET contributes to daily operations and the overall success of the organisation. They will also explore ways in which to secure interest in the industry from school and college students, bringing on a new generation. They will discuss what educational support is needed for these specialists and how the wider turfcare industry can support their development and recognition.

James is workshop and equipment manager at Buckinghamshire Golf Club and Chris Minton is head mechanic and workshop manager at Leicester City Football Club. Prior to that he was head mechanic at the Belfry for nearly 12 years.

With special guest speaker, Kenny Mackay, director of golf courses and grounds, Wentworth.

Learning outcomes:

•            What is a turf equipment technician?

•            How turf equipment technicians contribute to organisational success

•            Getting the best from your turf equipment technician

•            How turf equipment technicians can be of further support

Presented by:

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James Wilkinson

Workshop and Equipment Manager Turf Equipment Technicians Organisation

James has almost 23 years experience in mechanics, 18 of which have been spent within the golf industry, making him a true subject matter expert. Currently Workshop and Equipment Manager for Arora Group based at the Buckinghamshire Golf Club James remit is about to expand, as he takes on a group role to include potential Ryder Cup hosts Luton Hoo Golf & Country Club.

James truly understands the value Turf Technicians bring to operations and the challenges they face and is passionate about building a rewarding environment for future generations.

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Chris Minton

Workshop Manager Turf Equipment Technicians Organisation

I am currently the Head Mechanic/ Workshop Manager at LCFC (Leicester City Football Club).
I started here in this role in Sept 2017.

I studied Agricultural Mechanics, City & Guilds at Moreton Morrell College of Agriculture. From working at the local mower shop I have had a spell at working on my own for several years servicing garden/ professional machinery, have worked for a big Ransomes dealer, worked for a Toro dealer, was Head Mechanic at the Belfry for nearly 12 years before starting in my current role at LCFC.


In the pursuit of happiness

This is the story of how Lee Strutt learnt and developed techniques to create a great team culture and generate genuine happiness within his team. This journey of learning has been through many years of mistakes, misguided philosophies, a lot of shouting, tears and tantrums, but there have been key successes and genuinely good foundations that have built solid people management practices. This has led to better experiences for our teams and golfing guests.

Lee Strutt is a regular speaker on the Continue to Learn programme and has also presented in Australia, Asia and in the United States. He enjoys tournament support and has volunteered at three Ryder Cups, The Open, the Scottish Open and US Open. His is the only greenkeeper in the world to hold designations from BIGGA, GCSAA, CGSA and STMA and is currently working as director of agronomy at Cabot Cape Breton in Nova Scotia.

Learning outcomes:

  • Using different approaches to people management with positive and negative effects
  • Using different methods to engage your team
  • How to measure your success by creating milestones
  • Learning how to learn
  • How to make people happy

Presented by:

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Mr Lee Strutt MG, CGCS, PGDip

Director of Agronomy Capot Cape Breton

Lee Strutt is an experienced Golf Course Manager and loves the challenge of construction/grow-in. He is a past BIGGA Board representative for the South East Region, Section Committee member for the Central Section in Scotland, a Mentor for the Future Turf Managers Initiative (FTMI) and an experienced inspector and examiner for the Master Greenkeeper Certificate.

Lee is a regular presenter on the Continue to Learn programme, at Regional and Section event and has presented in Australia, Asia and at the GCSAA Conference in the USA. He enjoys tournament support and has volunteered at three Ryder Cup’s, the Scottish Open and the US Open. He is the only greenkeeper in the world to hold designations from BIGGA, GCSAA, CGSA and ASTMA. Lee is currently working as Director of Agronomy at Capot Cape Breton in Nova Scotia.


Biocontrols: a roadmap to the future

Dive into the captivating realm of biocontrols and their potential to revolutionise turf management. This session will discuss the journey from limited use to widespread adoption and the many advantages of these sustainable solutions. It will examine the science behind biocontrols, their functions and their influence on turf health and resilience. Additionally, it will address the challenges of developing effective biocontrols. Finally, it will shed light on ongoing research and emerging innovations that are propelling the integration of biocontrols into the turf industry.

A research scientist, Dr Eric Chen is biologicals technical manager for turf at Syngenta and is dedicated to advancing modern agriculture and driving innovation.

Learning outcomes:

•            The concept of biocontrols and their role in turf management

•            Gain insight into the science behind biocontrols, including their functions and mechanisms of action

•            Recognise the ways of integrating biocontrols into turf management practices

•            Identify the challenges associated with developing effective and sustainable biocontrol solutions

•            Develop a broader perspective on the future of turf management and the potential widespread adoption of biocontrols as sustainable solutions

Presented by:

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Dr Hui Chen PhD

Technical Manager Biologicals Turf & Ornamentals (EAME) Syngenta

Eric Chen, a research scientist with a year of experience at Syngenta, currently holds the position of Technical Manager for turf and ornamentals. Eric is dedicated to to support and develop the integration of biological products within the Syngenta Professional Solutions team across Europe, Africa & Middle East (EAME). He was drawn to Syngenta due to their impressive track record of breakthroughs and commitment to driving innovation in the field.


A vision of sustainable golf courses

This relaxed session will bring together a panel of experts including the R&A Sustainable Agronomy team to talk about the pressures facing golf courses and greenkeepers. Expect discussion on key issues such as water, pesticides, construction, drainage, golfer expectations and much more. Attendees will be able to contribute and ask questions of the panel via a digital app.

The panel will feature:

  • Richard Windows, Head of Sustainable Agronomy – Championship Venues, The R&A
  • Alistair Beggs, Head of Sustainable Agronomy Service – UK, The R&A
  • Gordon Howat, Senior Agronomist, The R&A

The panel will feature:

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John Kemp

Project Manager - Golf Course 2030 R&A

John Kemp has worked in the golf industry for 18 years and holds a BA in Golf Management, a Professional Diploma for the European Institute of Golf Course Architects, CMDip from Club Managers Association of Europe and is an R&A Greenkeeping Scholar.

As Project Manager - Golf Course 2030 at The R&A he is responsible for leading the industry to develop practical solutions to the key sustainability priorities for golf courses globally.

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Richard Windows

Agronomy Service Manager The R&A

Richard has been an Agronomist for 20 years and has been Championship Agronomist to the R&A for several Open Championships, The AIG Women's Open, The Amateur Championship and The Walker Cup.

He has a passion for links golf and delivering sustainable turf surfaces to the highest standard for championship golf. He is a member of Royal Troon Golf Club playing off a handicap of 10.

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Alistair Beggs

Head of Agronomy R&A

Alistair Beggs joined the R&A in January 2019 having previously worked as Head of Agronomy at STRI. In his career at STRI Alistair has advised on many different types of turf throughout the world. He gained warm season experience in Asia and has provided advice to clients throughout Western and Southern Europe and throughout the UK. He has gained a wealth of knowledge on the management and upkeep of many different types of golf course. Alistair's qualifications include a Biology degree and a diploma in Golf Course Architecture and he a member of the BASIS professional register. He is a regular contributor to industry publications and presenter at turf conferences. Alistair is a keen golfer and member at Royal Liverpool, and Rye. Alistair was Captain of Royal Liverpool in 2014.
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Gordon Howat

Senior Agronomist The R&A

An experienced specialist sportsturf consultant who has worked in the sportsturf and land drainage industry for over 20 years. Involved in a wide range of projects, that are delivered on time and to a high standard, while being commercially aware and with an eye on value engineering.

An extensive knowledge and understanding of the machinery and products within the sports surfaces industry helps give an excellent background for advising clients on how to achieve their desired playing surface and finish.
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