Continue to Learn Conference 2024 - Day 2

9:00AM - 5:00PM, 23 Jan 2024

Day two 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 2

Put your own oxygen mask on first

Using his own experience based on two separate occasions (and thanks to a bad relapse ), this session will unpack common bad habits leaders in the golf industry get themselves into. Concentrating on why many of the practices are counterproductive and how they impact the long-term stability of the team and the individual's career aspirations. By the end of the session, delegates will have created a personal action plan to use back at work and will be part of an online community to support each other in carrying out the changes.

Learning outcomes:

  • Identify practices currently used that adversely affect personal wellbeing
  • Develop the ability to independently assess if a working practice or culture has a positive or negative effect on personal wellbeing and the ability to maximise enjoyment and productivity
  • Identify why personal wellbeing is essential to the success of the team
  • Create a personal action plan to make positive change on returning to the workplace to ensure long-term success

Presented by:

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Gareth Morgan

General Manager Minchinhampton Golf Club

A golf club manager of 16 years, across two countries.

Former GCMA Wales Captain (2014) and GCMA Wales Committee Member 2011-2017. GCMA Wales representative to Wales Golf 2011-2015. Wales Golf Councilor 2015-2021.

GCMA Director 2020 - Present & GCMA Board Vice Chair 2022-Present.


The latest turf management research in UK climates

This session presents the latest evidence and discussions from the Throws Technology Centre in Essex, where scientific trials have been carried out on a variety of surfaces. Data will be presented on the best practices, product types and programmes on a range of subjects including microdochium control, anthracnose management, wetting agent performance, biostimulants and herbicide performance.

Geoff Fenn has been involved in the turf industry for more than 30 years including 20 years in day-to-day turf management and maintenance. He now heads up the research and development programme for Origin Amenity Solutions at the Throws Technology Centre. A number of trials are running on fine turf, sports turf, in the laboratory and the greenhouse.

Learning outcomes:

•            The benefit of correctly laid out trials in judging products and practices

•            Management practices that affect turf performance

•            Understand and use data that can be relayed to management to justify budgetary expenditure

•            Disease management practices most likely to succeed

•            Best practice advice for new technologies

Presented by:

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Geoff Fenn
Geoff has almost 30 years experience in the sportsturf industry combining both direct turf management as a Golf Course Manager and commercially in research, product testing and evaluation of new and existing products. He has developed successful fertiliser programmes for all levels from local bowling greens right up to Premier League football stadiums.


A practical approach to understanding and reducing anxiety

Cases of anxiety are on the rise and the last few years have really made an impact in the UK. We can all be guilty of thinking about the worst-case scenario, but many people get stuck in this pattern and instead of preparing for potential problems, they become paralysed by them or bury their heads in the sand and hope it all goes away. In this session Dave Cottrell will teach the audience where anxiety comes from, how it works in a ‘positive feedback loop’ and most importantly how we can break this loop and free ourselves from this burden.

With his own history of living with Type 2 Bipolar Disorder, Dave brings a relatable perspective to mental health education. In the past two years Dave’s work has earned him two prestigious awards, including a Points of Light Award from the Prime Minister.

Learning outcomes:

•            Understanding why we get anxious

•            How anxiety gets worse in our minds

•            Practical tool 1: ‘the physiological sigh’

•            Practical tool 2: ‘the anxiety list’

•            Practical tool 3: ‘the YouTube analogy’

•            Practical tool 4: ‘the juggling ball technique’

Presented by:

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Dave Cottrell

Lead Trainer Mindset By Dave

Dave Cottrell aka Mindset By Dave is a Mindset coach and a lived experience educator around Mental Health. With his own history of living with Type 2 Bipolar Disorder, Dave brings a unique and relatable persepctive to mental health education that you cannot find in a text book.

Dave speaks passionately and insightfully on topics such as depression, anxeity, stress and coping strategies, eating disorders and more. In the past 2 years Dave's work has earned him two prestigious awards including a Points of Light Award from former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, for Dave's work bringing mental health education to children and their families over the pandemic. This work along with the Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Trust and their "Change Talks" team also received a nomination for the Health Services Journal (HSJ) Mental Health Innovation of The Year in 2022.


Is turfgrass agronomy research worth the effort?

This session discusses interesting and relevant new data from a range of research studies carried out in Ireland between 2020 and 2022.

Dr John Dempsey has 40 years’ greenkeeping experience and was superintendent of Ireland’s oldest golf course, The Royal Curragh, from 1993 to 2019. John has conducted independent research on turfgrass disease management for the past 15 years, covering extensively the subject of microdochium nivale infection of turfgrasses, turfgrass responses to biotic and abiotic challenges and the effect of nutritional programmes on disease suppression, turfgrass growth and quality.

Learning outcomes:

•            Surfactant trial effects on soil moisture and turfgrass quality

•            Rootzone amendments effect on turfgrass germination and establishment

•            Means of reducing earthworm casting

•            The uptake, leaf accumulation and longevity of potassium phosphite

•            How biostimulants can help enhance turfgrass quality and reduce disease pressure

Presented by:

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Dr John Dempsey

Turfgrass Pathologist, Independent Turfgrass Research Independent Turfgrass Research

Dr John Dempsey has 40 years greenkeeping experience and was superintendent of Ireland’s oldest golf course –The Royal Curragh – from 1993 to 2019.

John has undertaken courses, beginning with basic greenkeeping at the Botanic gardens in Dublin, to a 1st class degree in turfgrass science at Myerscough College.

He completed a PhD during 2016 in turfgrass pathology in the Centre for Research in Biosciences at the University of the West of England, Bristol.  

John has conducted independent research on turfgrass disease management for the past 15 years, covering extensively the subject Microdochium nivale infection of turfgrasses, turfgrass responses to pathogen challenge and the effect of phosphite treatments on disease suppression, turfgrass growth and quality.

Since 2019 John has headed Independent Turfgrass Research. His current work is focusing primarily on biotic and abiotic stresses in turfgrass, turfgrass health, integrated disease control and enhancement of turfgrass defence responses.

John has presented the results of his research at numerous conferences and seminars in Ireland, UK, USA, France, Germany, Norway, Canada, Sweden, Czech Republic, Iceland and at the GCSAA Conference and Trade Show and BTME.


Challenges of springtime - differential growth

Every year the same challenge faces countless players at many courses, that of putting on surfaces that are inconsistent due to differential growth between species in the same sward. This session will look at the cause of the problem and how to minimise the challenges presented by the problem of differential grass growth.

Noel MacKenzie has worked in the sports turf and amenity industry since 1993, holding both head groundsman and head greenkeeper roles and working for the leading consultancies in sports turf management. He has undertaken more than 4,000 advisory visits and presented at numerous seminars for BIGGA at both national and regional events. Noel has also taught to master’s degree level in this topic and on other management-related sciences.

Noel has experience overseeing complicated projects and their management, including the £6m Olympic Park/Hackney Marsh conversion and reinstatement, numerous drainage system installations and site developments.

Learning outcomes:

•            The problem to golfers caused by differential grass growth

•            The causes of differential grass growth

•            Consider the practical options available for tackling differential grass growth problems

•            The implications of grass growth management in spring

•            Mechanisms to proactively address political challenges from members

Presented by:

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Noel MacKenzie B.Sc.(Hons), MBPR, RIPTA, MRSB, MCIHORT, C.Biol.

Director and Principal Consultant Sports Turf Consulting Limited

Noel has worked in the sports turf and amenity industry since 1993 holding both Head Groundsman/Greenkeeper roles and working for the leading consultancies in sports turf management. He has undertaken in excess of 4000 advisory visits and presented at numerous seminars for BIGGA at both national and regional events as well as the IOG, AELT&CC, etc, and industry liaison events for suppliers and manufacturers. Noel has also taught to Masters degree level in this topic and other management related sciences.

Noel has experience overseeing complicated projects and their management including the £6M Olympic Park/Hackney Marsh conversion and reinstatement, numerous drainage system installations and site developments.


Investing in dollar spot prevention

Dollar spot has proven an increasing issue for greenkeepers in recent seasons. Once seen as occasional isolated outbreaks on greens, climate change and trends in turf management practices have driven the damage dollar spot can cause and it is now being widely experienced across all areas of the golf course.

Sean Loakes has been at the forefront of investigating integrated control strategies with golf courses in south west England and Wales. Appointed in February 2022, Sean has a background in environmental science and research. With a series of trials, his work is evaluating developments in disease modelling specific to UK conditions and the role for new fungicides. Research aims to develop integrated solutions of cultural practices and timely fungicide applications that will prevent dollar spot outbreaks.

Learning outcomes:

•            Drivers that raise the risk of dollar spot

•            Cultural practices could reduce the threat

•            Use modelling to forewarn of impending attacks

•            Identify when and where fungicides should be used

•            Application techniques to get the best results

•            Build an integrated turf management strategy for your course

Presented by:

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Sean Loakes

Syngenta Technical Manager UK Syngenta

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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.


Looking after No.1 ! How to build strong personal and professional resilience that supports you and your team

Are you feeling stuck in a routine? Tackling obstacles from every direction? Ready for a fresh new outlook? Challenges hit us from every angle: staffing; members; equipment; budgets; weather. Get armed with a fresh outlook, preparation and fortified confidence to tackle even the most challenging of times. Learn actionable tips to amp up your approach to leadership and help propel you into the best shape possible. This session will be thoughtful, practical and fun.

Phil Helmn MG has over 35 years’ experience working with various budgets and team sizes and has mastered the art of getting the best out of all available resources. He has managed courses in the UK and Europe.

Learning outcomes:

•            Key strategies for personal resilience and building on your greatest strengths

•            Everyday skills that simplify your life and relate back to the workplace

•            Tactics for developing positive habits to improve personal wellbeing and mental health

•            Be better able to approach tasks and challenges in a positive manner

•            Learn physical best practices to strengthen confidence and self-awareness

Presented by:

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Phil Helmn MG

Conference Host

Phil has over 35 years experience in the greenkeeping industry. He has managed large teams on a wide range of soil types both in the U.K. and Europe and has used these experiences to fine tune his mentoring and common-sense management style. He is a regular presenter at Continue to Learn at BTME.


Golf course management and modern stresses

To the untrained eye, managing a golf course can be seen to be a simple task of cutting grass. However, there is much more to the role than expected and these expectations have evolved over the years to new heights that are often unforeseen as we embark upon a career as a course manager.

Sam Evans MG is a golf course manager at North Hants. He has worked in greenkeeping since the age of 19 and has managed three courses, with his first at the age of 24. He is an FTMI graduate and mentor and achieved Master Greenkeeper Certification in 2019.

Learning outcomes

  • Prepare for a career in course management by identifying aspects of golf course management that are not necessarily understood to be part of the job until you find yourself in that role

Presented by:

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Sam Evans MG

Golf Course Manager North Hants Golf Club

Golf Course Manager at North Hants Golf Club. Sam has been in greenkeeping since the age of 19, managed 3 courses in total, with his first at the age of 24. Now 35 years old, two young children and a dog called Digger.


Drones, remote sensing and their potential for improving golf course operations

Small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS), commonly referred to as drones, are increasingly used in precision agriculture, but how well does this technology translate to turfgrass management? While their remote sensing capabilities have greatly enhanced opportunities for detecting stress and managing plant health, perceptions that drones can do everything have taken on a life of their own. This session is intended to balance perceptions with reality and examine what drones actually offer within a golf course setting. This will be accomplished through an overview of: equipment options; the data drones can collect; management practices for processing data; and practical considerations for incorporating drones into existing practices.

Learning outcomes

•            Different types of drones, their basic components and their advantages

•            Types of data drones can collect

•            Common errors that can occur and the steps necessary to correct these

•            Processes for creating usable data and how additional steps may be required

•            How drones not only data collection instruments but can serve important roles in communication

•            Make informed decisions on how beneficial drones can be relative to operational needs and management priorities

Presented by:

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Daniel O'Brien

PhD Student & Graduate Research Assistant University of Arkansas

Daniel O’Brien is a PhD student working for Dr. Mike Richardson at the University of Arkansas. His research focuses largely on soil surfactants – investigating different active ingredients and application strategies. Additionally, he works with precision agriculture technologies and adapting their use for turfgrass management.

Originally from Birmingham, AL, he received his BS from Auburn University and spent eight years in sports turf management before joining the Arkansas Turfgrass Research Program. He earned his MS working for Dr. Doug Karcher studying technologies for putting green management while also serving as research technician, managing all putting greens at the Milo J. Shult Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Fayetteville, AR. Daniel currently resides in Siloam Springs, AR with wife Jacquelyn and three children: Maggie, Jack, and Ellie.


Ice lollies really do matter

A reminder that there is joy and happiness all around, we just need to slow down and see it. If there was ever a time we needed to lean into a situation and pull from it all the good we can, then it’s now. Gavin Oattes will challenge you to embrace the present and find within it something that not only sets your soul on fire, but also the souls of those around you.

Covering themes such as purpose, passion, encouragement and togetherness, Gavin – in his own unique style – will encourage delegates to think about how they create moments of ‘uplift’ within both their personal and professional lives. We may find ourselves in one of the most bizarre and challenging moments in history, but we’re lucky to be alive at a time when kindness, gratitude and even ice lollies really do matter.

Learning outcomes:

•            Feel inspired and refreshed

•            Discover why humans have so much to learn from geese

•            Rediscover the importance of not spreading yourself too thin

•            The benefits of making time to do less and be more

•            Forevermore build at least one ‘ice lolly’ into your day

•            Have some fun and laughter

Presented by:

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Gavin Oattes

Managing director, Inspirational Speaker, Comedian & Best-Selling Author Tree of Knowledge

“Inspirational”, “Mind-Blowing”, “Hilarious” and “Barn-Storming” are just a few of the words used by clients to describe Gavin Oattes and his unique ability to entertain, enlighten and educate an audience.
Gavin is an international keynote speaker, award winning comedian, best-selling author of SHINE, LIFE WILL SEE YOU NOW and DIARY OF A BRILLIANT KID. Although he spends much of his time speaking to business leaders and directors of some of the world’s leading organisations Gavin’s true inspiration for what he does comes from where he started out his career…primary school teaching.

He’s a firm believer that we as adults can be every bit as inspired by young children as they can by us grown-ups. Gavin transports his audience back to when they were just 5 years of age, a time when we feared nothing and embraced everything.

Over the past decade, Gavin has worked with literally hundreds of thousands of people and is now regarded as one the most talented and sought after speakers in the UK.




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