Darren McLaughlan wins top UK spraying award


Darren McLaughlan, Golf Courses Manager at Trump Turnberry in Ayrshire, has won the prestigious overall title of Amenity Sprayer Operator of the Year (ASOOTY). The Award was presented by social media golfing celebrity, Jazzy Golfer, and Amenity Forum Chairman, Ian Graham at a BTME ceremony in Harrogate this week (24 January).  

The Amenity Sprayer of the Year awards are organised by the Amenity Forum, sponsored by ICL and Syngenta and supported by BASIS.

Darren (above) has been Golf Courses Manager at Trump Turnberry since autumn 2022, having joined from North Berwick Golf Club and previously worked at prestigious clubs including Wentworth and Montrose Golf Links. In just eight years career development he progressed from working on a municipal golf course, to managing an open championship venue.

He cited gaining the ASOOTY title was a further progression in his personal development and drive to constantly improve the whole team’s approach to every aspect of producing an exceptional quality golf course.

“Demonstrating professionalism in the way that we approach our work is important to change the perception of the average golf club member and gain the credit and recognition that we deserve,” he added.

“I have been spraying for as long as I can remember, but it is still essential to expand your knowledge base and move out of your comfort zone, which the Award has done.”

Darren was inspired to enter the ASOOTY Awards from listening to an On the Horizon podcast with ICL’s Henry Bechelet and Glenn Kirby of Syngenta, which includes regular application advice and tips.

Presenting Darren’s Award, Ian Graham, (above, right) said: We’d like to thank everyone that entered the Amenity Spray Operator of the Year awards this year. We received a great number of high quality and interesting entries.

“The three shortlisted entrants all provided very high-quality submissions.  Darren demonstrated a real passion for the industry and  a drive to continue learn and develop. He also seeks to raise awareness of the skill and professionalism of the people in this industry amongst fellow peers, along with the wider public.”

The two runners-up at the Awards included Keith Scruton of Darwen Golf Club in Lancashire and Leeds United Head Groundsman, Kiel Barrett.

With 32 years’ experience of greenkeeping, Keith Scruton highlighted: “This award is an accreditation of good practice, which is something I’ve tried to achieve with spraying over the years,” he said.

“It ably demonstrates that even a small club can implement good practice and do the right things, without having as many resources as the bigger clubs.”

Leeds United Head Groundsman, Kiel Barrett, was also commended for his outstanding work in improving the Elland Road pitch in his 10 years at the club, since moving from Leeds Rhinos’ Headingly Carnegie stadium.

The Amenity Sprayer Operator of the Year recognises and rewards top sprayer operators across the amenity industry. It aims to raise standards, by identifying the best practice of individuals to enhance results – and share their experiences across the industry. 

ICL Landscape & Industrial Manager, Barry Browne (above, second from right), added: “We are delighted to support such an important cross-sector industry initiative with a continued commitment to raise standards and improve results.

“Importantly it has identified and recognised the range of spray application techniques and the differing skills involved across the amenity sector. It will provide a unique and vitally important resource for all involved in spray application.”

The Awards reflect the importance of an integrated pest management (IPM) approach to any issue involving turf and landscape maintenance.

“The skills of sprayer operators to make efficient, effective and above all safe applications are essential for the future sustainability of the amenity and turf care industry,” advised Syngenta Technical Manager, Sean Loakes (above).

“ASOOTY Awards are a welcome way to recognise and reward the leading individuals and for everyone to learn from their experience.”

Entries for ASOOTY will open soon. Look out on the Amenity Forum website for more details and entry form for your chance to win.