Pershore College apprentice inspires golf club to shortlist of national award

A former operations manager who changed careers to pursue his passion of greenkeeping has seen his team’s project shortlisted for a national award.

Stewart Marshall, 45 from Rowley Regis, is the course manager at Dudley Golf Club and alongside his team has made it to the final shortlist for Greenkeeping Project of the Year.

The award ceremony will be taking place as part of the BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition (BTME) trade show, a convention for the greenkeeping profession in Harrogate, which runs from January 23 to 26.

Stewart is currently completing a Level 2 Greenkeeping apprenticeship at Pershore College, which is part of college group WCG.
He decided to pursue the college course after being offered a permanent position at Dudley Golf Club, where he had been a member for five years and had been volunteering his time to support the greenkeeping team.

Stewart is now managing the three-man team at the course, which also includes Tony Salt and Darren Povey.

Since starting his full-time role at the club 18 months ago, he has transformed the course, with membership rising from 130 to now more than 300 members.

The golf course had been in a state of disrepair and neglected for several years before Stewart joined, but now thanks to his team’s work the course is now thriving, with the greens in fantastic condition, and rekitted clubhouse and changing rooms.

Stewart said: “A couple of years ago I had been able to pay off my mortgage and decided I wanted to change careers and do something I really enjoyed.

“I started playing golf at the club a few years ago and on weekends regularly volunteered to support the greenkeeping team, one of whom has been a friend of mine for 20 years.

“The owners of the course offered me the chance to go full-time, they asked if I would be prepared to go to college and get the qualifications to manage the team – so suddenly I was back in education at 44!

“It has been a fantastic experience, I’ve already completed all my coursework and will be doing my exams later this year when the course at Dudley is in tip-top condition.

“I’m gaining knowledge every time I’m at college and able to use that straight away to further improve our golf course.

“We’re incredibly proud of how we have transformed the course over the last year. We have attracted new sponsors to purchase equipment, we recycle everything we can and the local community has supported us too.

“This all culminated in obtaining a Worcestershire County match! That is testament to the work and dedication of the team we have here and everyone that has supported us.

“We’re looking forward to the awards, whether we win or not we would never have expected the course to event open this year a few years ago, let alone be in the final three for a national award. It is quite humbling really.”

Dave Coutts, Sports Turf & Golf Greenkeeping Trainer/Assessor at Pershore College, said: “Stewart has been an exemplary learner since joining us and the transformative impact the has had on Dudley Golf Club is incredible.

“He and his team should be very proud of what they have achieved and we wish the team the best of luck at the awards. The awards are revered in the industry and reflect the very best of greenkeeping across the UK.”

To find out more about greenkeeping apprenticeships at Pershore College, visit To explore Pershore College at an Open Event in January, go to