The organisation was formed in 1934 by W H Bowles BEM, head groundsman at Eton College. First called the National Association of Groundsmen, its agreed purpose was to improve the status of groundsmen and the standard of groundsmanship. This was embodied in the original crest which carried the motto Through Training to Service. In 1969 the organisation became known as the Institute of Groundsmanship.
In March 2020 members approved the name change to the Grounds Management Association. GMA is a not-for-profit organisation.
"To promote quality surfaces and quality services and establish the GMA as 'the' leading professional organisation for grounds management, recognised by the National Governing Bodies of Sport and the public, private and voluntary sectors for its industry knowledge and technical expertise.'