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John Reitman

By John Reitman

After 30 years, Strutt moving on from BIGGA for post with Bernhard

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Sami Strutt has been a fixture at BIGGA, helping promote education for greenkeepers since 1993.

Sami Strutt will resign as chief operating of the British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association to accept the role of education director at the Bernhard Academy.

The change will become effective in February.

Strutt has been with BIGGA for 30 years, starting in 1993 as an administration assistant. She rose through the ranks eventually being named COO in 2022. 

"I have loved working for BIGGA, and I anticipated spending my entire career with the association," Strutt said in a news release. "Being able to have so much input into a business that I joined when I was so young was amazing, but I'm certain that this move is the right decision. This opportunity with the Bernhard Academy is one that I never imagined would be made available to me, so it is one that I couldn't turn down. My certainty that this is the right decision is testament to what I have achieved with BIGGA, as the association has given me the experience and ability to take this next step."

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During Strutt's time with BIGGA, the association developed the Continue to Learn education program, Continuing Professional Development system and the Future Turf Managers' Initiative. She was instrumental in the development of the Master Greenkeeper Certificate and the Toro Student Greenkeeper of the Year Awards. 

During that time BIGGA also expanded its footprint with superintendents in North America, many of whom achieved Master Greenkeeper statusa, and through the BIGGA Delegation to the GCSAA Conference and Trade Show with Bernhard and Co.

"I first met Sami in San Antonio in 2015, and while there she encouraged me to apply to speak at BIGGA's Continue to Learn. All I had were a couple of ideas of non-technical, marketing-related topics that might be of interest," said Jon Kiger of TurfNet. "Between the members voting on what presentations they would attend and Sami's guidance I was chosen to create and present three topics at Continue to Learn in 2016 - all from scratch. This included the Turf Managers Conference where I found myself on stage with several of the Ph.D.s we've had present for TurfNet University. That started a small, but meaningful stretch of presenting similar topics in Canada, Scotland, and around the US and even writing for BIGGA's Greenkeeper International magazine. That experience helped me grow as a professional and give back to our industry. I will be forever grateful to Sami for encouraging me to start that aspect of my career." 

In recent years, Strutt assisted BIGGA Chief Executive Jim Croxton as the association navigated the Covid-19 pandemic, hosting webinars to give BIGGA members ongoing access to digital learning despite the enforced cancellation of BTME in 2021.

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"When many people think of BIGGA, they think of Sami Strutt," Croxton said in a release. "She's been a fundamental part of our team for over 30 years and has been at the heart of many of the things that are good about our association. She's a hugely popular and important member of the BIGGA family and we're disappointed to lose her, but thrilled that she's got an opportunity to make her mark on the wider industry and one that will hopefully align with BIGGA's strategic ambitions going forwards.

"I'm sad to lose a valued colleague but glad that we'll still be in regular contact. She's had a wonderful journey with BIGGA and I'm proud that the Bernhard Academy has chosen her to take on this key role."

Strutt is a graduate of The R&A's Women in Golf Leadership Program and has since progressed to become a coach for the program.

Although she is changing positions, Strutt emphasized she has no intentions of leaving the golf scene.

"I'm not leaving the industry, and I will continue to attend BTME every year as long as I am working in this industry, which I intend to be until I retire," Strutt said. "It's where I live. It's where I belong. It's where I grew up."

The Bernhard Academy is an educational program to further train leaders in the golf industry and promote the profession.

The academy features a list of management and technical courses that have been developed over the past year-plus and offer valuable opportunities for attendees to take away real-world skills and solutions that can enhance the performance of their turf maintenance facility on a day-to-day basis.

Courses include cutting unit setup and sharpening; the power of understanding others; using data and information for solid decision-making; principles of innovation and how to generate great ideas in the workplace; managing finance, preparing and controlling budgets; stakeholder communication and engagement techniques that work; effective project management skills; and change – how to prepare and manage effectively; performance management and unlocking maximum productivity.

Each course will be delivered in a world-class learning environment at either Moortown Golf Club or Royal Norwich Golf Club in England, Gleneagles in Scotland and the Bernhard Academy headquarters in Haverhill, England.There will also be an interactive online Webinar series.

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