St. Andrews Links hosts First Green field trip

Local school kids got hands-on experience during Scotland's inaugural First Green event.


School children and Gordon McKie outside at St. Andrews Links
Students from Canongate School in St. Andrews participated in Scotland's inaugural First Green field trip in June at St. Andrews Links. Photos courtesy of St. Andrews Links

Primary school pupils in St. Andrews have been learning about what it takes to be a greenkeeper at the Home of Golf after St. Andrews Links became the first venue in Scotland to host an innovative First Green field trip.

Aimed at inspiring the next generation of greenkeepers by showcasing the range of skills required in greenkeeping across science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the First Green event gave pupils an interactive experience of the life of a greenkeeper at the world’s most famous golf complex.

Held at the St. Andrews Links Golf Academy adjacent to the renowned Old Course, the event saw 23 primary five pupils from local St. Andrews school, Canongate, visit the Home of Golf for a day of interactive activities and practical learning. Students participated in three hands-on, outdoor learning stations that showcased a variety of skills that are utilised by professional greenkeepers each day.

Staff from across the Links introduced the pupils to irrigation, bunkering, wildlife conservation, soil management, greenkeeping tools and machinery, including the stimpmeter used by greenkeepers to measure the speed of the greens. Pupils were then able to put their learnings to the test with a putting competition led by Rachel Knight, Golf Academy Operations manager at St. Andrews Links Trust.

The First Green initiative, run by the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) in partnership with GCSAA, aims to introduce young people to the career opportunities that are available in golf and showcase the skills that are required for these roles.

It is the only science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education and environmental outreach program that uses golf courses as learning labs. It was first introduced in the United States in 1997 but more recently was adopted by BIGGA, with the UK’s inaugural event taking place at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in 2023. The First Green curriculum helps students apply their classroom knowledge in an outdoor setting using STEM concepts connected to golf course management and conservation. First Green also gives students a first-hand look at the important role greenkeepers play in their local communities.

Student and St. Andrews Links crew member using a stimpmeter
The British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association developed 13 lesson plans to help greenkeepers prepare for and run a successful First Green event at their courses.

Gordon McKie, Greenkeeping Operations Manager at St. Andrews Links Trust, said,

“We are delighted to have held Scotland’s first ‘First Green’ event here at the Home of Golf. Greenkeeping is often an overlooked industry with many people lacking an understanding of what goes into looking after a golf course. The First Green initiative allows us to engage with young people at primary school age who may go on to consider greenkeeping as a future career. Our first event was a great success, and we hope to host similar events annually at St. Andrews Links, or even more frequently if we can. We would encourage other schools and golf courses in Scotland to get involved and to start engaging with young people who may go on to become the next generation of greenkeepers.”

A set of 13 lesson plans have been designed by BIGGA to guide greenkeepers on how to run STEM based sessions for young people aged 9 to 14 years of age. The lesson plans highlight the work of greenkeepers and their important role in maintaining a golf course in a good condition for golfers, whilst also helping to protect the environment. Host greenkeeping staff are encouraged to utilize these lesson plans and will typically co-ordinate a two-to-three-hour showcase of their greenkeeping skills.

Jenny Bledge, Workforce Project Manager at BIGGA, said, “First Green is a flagship initiative that we are extremely proud of at BIGGA because it helps golf clubs connect with their communities in a really meaningful way. By using STEM principles, participants – like the pupils who attended the event at St. Andrews Links – get to have fun while learning practical skills outdoors in a real-world workplace setting. This not only raises awareness about golf courses and their role in the environment but also puts a big emphasis on sustainability while helping to promote greenkeeping as a STEM career. First Green events are popping up all over the UK, and I was thrilled that St Andrews Links was one of the first to get involved. Seeing First Green in action at the Home of Golf was a real testament to all the hard work we’ve put in to bring it to life. It was fantastic to see Gordon McKie, St Andrews Trust’s Greenkeeping Operations Manager, diving into the activities and getting hands-on!”

Three UK courses have now hosted First Green events thus far, Royal Liverpool, the Bedfordshire and St. Andrews Links, with events planned at Clevedon, Dudley, Woburn, and Royal Liverpool once again.

Watch an event roundup video here: 

To learn more about hosting a First Green event at your facility, visit