Australian Sports Turf Managers Association highlights Future Turf Managers’ Initiative

The Australian Sports Turf Managers Association (ASTMA) recently concluded the latest installment of its Jacobsen-sponsored Future Turf Managers’ Initiative (FTMI). The 2023-2024 group converged on Tullamarine for an intensive three-day workshop. Now in its eighth year, approximately 175 up-and-coming turf managers having now gone through the program, which aims to equip them with the necessary skills to progress their careers.

Last October, ASTMA and Jacobsen confirmed the 21 successful applicants for the latest intake, with application numbers up by more than 20 percent on the previous year. The 2023-2024 cohort included Tahlia Bruce (Golf Central Brisbane, Qld), Jordan Burgess (Royal Wellington GC, NZ), Jeremy Collier (City Of Ballarat, Vic),Luke Cooney (Melbourne Grammar, Vic), Joel Crimmins (Melbourne Grammar, Vic), Andrew Dalby (St Kevin’s College, Vic), Nicholas Fiddelaers (Green Acres GC, Vic), Matthew Forder (The Sands, Torquay, Vic), Tim Hamilton (Kingston Heath GC, Vic), Nick Harris (Sanctuary Cove G&CC, Qld), Liam Hewitson (St Clair GC, NZ), Brayden Luc (Avondale GC, NSW), Timothy Moore (Devonport CC, Tas), Jackson Nicholls (The Lakes GC, NSW), Dominic Pelusi (The Gabba, Qld), Jayde Robson (City of Ballarat, Vic), Nick Skicko (Metropolitan GC, Vic), Kurt Thiele (Cape Kidnappers, NZ), Ryan Thompson (Latrobe Golf Club, Vic), Cody Tucker (Metropolitan Golf Club, Vic) and Issac Wojewodka (Camden GC, NSW).

The FTMI cohort is split into four groups with each group assigned a mentor. The mentors, many of whom are past FTMI graduates themselves, help to guide the groups though the respective online and face-to-face sessions, providing their insights and experiences along the way. Returning as mentors this year were Liam Ash (State Wide Turf Services, NSW), Brenton Clarke (Settler’s Run, Vic) and Sam Davis (Queenstown GC, NZ), with Suncorp Stadium ground manager Matthew Oliver a welcome inclusion to the mentoring team for the first time.

The online sessions covered a range of topics and were supplemented by smaller breakout meetings where each group was able to discuss content from the previous sessions and work together on set tasks that had been assigned. These smaller meetings also provided the opportunity to workshop some of the ideas raised in general sessions with their mentors.

The face-to-face gathering featured a guest presentation from former champion Olympic swimmer Brooke Hanson, followed by a range of presentations from leading figures. Topics ranged from presentation skills to CV writing and job applications, understanding maintenance budgets, the importance of workplace diversity, personal branding and how to develop a good workplace culture.

“The FTMI is such a great program, providing the emerging and future leaders of the turf industry invaluable education opportunities,” said ASTMA chief executive Mark Unwin. “In addition to the networking and shared learning the participants experience, the ability to gain insights from experienced mentors and industry experts is what sets this program apart and what sets up those who have been part of the program for success in their careers. It’s no surprise that nearly 70 per cent of all turf managers who undertake the FTMI program have gone on to be promoted to leadership or senior roles in the industry.”

As part of the program, all FTMI delegates will remain in touch with their groups and have committed to a series of goals and outcomes that they will work upon with the support of their mentors.