The British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) has revealed that Janne Lehto, course manager at Hirsala Golf, has become Finland’s first certified Master Greenkeeper.
Janne, 30, is chairperson of the Finnish Greenkeepers Association and is an agronomist for the Finnish Golf Union. He began his career at Hirsala, before spells at Loch Lomond Golf Club in Scotland and Woodlands Golf Club in Melbourne, Australia. He returned to Hirsala in 2016, before taking on the course manager role in 2017.
Hirsala hosted the Finnish Open in 2011 and 2015, but is also considered one of the most forward-thinking and environmentally conscious golf clubs anywhere. The club is GEO Certified and has worked alongside WWF Finland on a number of projects including wetland management, waterway restoration and marine conservation. Additionally, the club powers machinery using biofuel rather than fossil fuels and both the clubhouse and maintenance facility have solar panels that means all of Hirsala’s electricity needs are fulfilled by the club itself. Fairways and rough are mown by autonomous mowers, each powered by clean energy drawn from the Hirsala’s solar power system.
The Master Greenkeeper Certificate is awarded to those members of BIGGA who have reached the highest standards of greenkeeping and golf course management. Candidates must pass three stages to achieve the certification, including an assessment of golf course operations and a case study and technical examination. They must also have 10 years’ experience as a greenkeeper with at least three years spent in a course manager, head greenkeeper or superintendent position.
“I was pretty thrilled,” said Janne of the moment he received a phone call from BIGGA’s Deb Burnett telling him he had become BIGGA’s 89th Master Greenkeeper. “It was a great feeling to get the process done because I started it over two years ago, but was held up by the COVID-19 pandemic that meant I could not have a course inspection, there being no other Master Greenkeepers in Finland. I started greenkeeping in 2011 and I’m always looking to develop myself and progress my career, so this was the natural next step.”
Head to the BIGGA website for more information about Master Greenkeeper and the other professional qualifications available to greenkeepers.
The British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association was created in January 1987 due to an amalgamation of the British Golf Greenkeepers Association, The English and International Golf Greenkeepers Association and The Scottish and International Golf Greenkeepers Association.
Today BIGGA has around 5,600 greenkeepers and turf professionals as members. BIGGA is dedicated to the continuing professional development of its members, and in serving their needs will strive through education and training for standards of excellence in golf course management throughout the greenkeeping profession.
BIGGA also publishes Greenkeeper International, which can be viewed online here.