My experience on the FEGGA Scholarship Programme by Rocío Alvear

Last April I decided to stop my daily life in Spain and move to Åhus, a small town in the South of Sweden. The reason: the Greenkeeping Programme offered by FEGGA. FEGGA is the Federation of European Golf Greenkeepers Associations and its objectives include the training of future and current workers in the sectorso they created the Greenkeeping Scholarship Programme. After my time at El Encín and El Olivar golf courses in Madrid, I did not want to miss the chance to continue growing and learning through the FEGGA Scholarship Programme.

The scholarship lasts six months. Training is continuous from the moment students set foot on the golf course. The programme is possible thanks to the involvement of FEGGA and Kristianstads GolfKlubb, as well as each and every one of the professionals and companies in the sector committed to the cause.

1st Tee East Course at Kristianstads Golf Club. Åhus, Sweden.

On the one hand, FEGGA, with Dean Clever as Executive Director, supports the programme with respect to education and the organization of all seminars.

Regarding the location, the programme began in Murcia, at Polaris World and after a few years, it was reactivated in 2020 thanks to the support of Kristianstads Golfklubb. The club has been awarded the “Best Golf Course in Sweden” in 2023. It has two 18 hole golf courses: East and West Courses. Side by side just a few meters away, they are very different: the East Course is distinguished by being a course with a very high level of maintenance, daily mowing of all areas, etc. while the West Course is characterized by its blending with the environment in which it is located, sustainability, the absence of pesticides or the limited use of chemical fertilizers. Both golf courses are taken care of down to the smallest detail, each one within its particularities.

West Course at Kristianstads Golfklubb, Åhus, Sweden. Photo: Luis Miguel Bustamante.

Kristianstads Golfklubb greenkeepers team is led by Bevan Tattersall. With more than 40 professional tournaments under his belt (including the 1993 Ryder Cup as greenkeeper and 2002 as Course Manager), Bevan Tatersall has spent his career on some of the best courses in Europe. Around him, there is a group of professionals willing to give their all for the group and whose treatment of students is unbeatable. The commitment of the entire staff to the programme is impeccable, allowing the students to carry out each and every one of the different tasks necessary for the maintenance of the golf course.

“Greenteam” 2023 from Kristianstads Golfklubb, Åhus, Sweden. Photo: Malin Bolte.

Regarding training, weekly seminars are held in addition to a theoretical-practical project that each student carries out during the six months. The seminars cover subjects such as maintenance, construction and design of golf courses, machinery, irrigation, tournament organization, human resources, soil science, biology and botany… The speakers are professionals with a long history in the sector and who carry out their activity in all places in the world, not just in Europe. Apart from the seminars, there are also visits to other golf courses in the area and football stadiums such as Falsterbo Golfklubb, Royal Copenhagen Golf Club or Malmö Football Club.

Likewise, this year some students participated in the preparation of major events in the world of golf: Kristian Kouhia was at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club (Ryder Cup 2023) and Bianca Mignon Pronk (FEGGA 2022 student) and I worked as volunteers for two weeks at the Amundi Evian Championship.

Rocío Alvear (FEGGA 2023 student) mowing the 5th green at Amundi Evian Championship. Photo: Jérémy Coche.

Finally, the students. These are carefully selected among all the candidates belonging to the countries associated with FEGGA. There are a maximum of eight places. All students have a base and experience in greenkeeping and, at the same time, specific training and different livings, thus configuring a heterogeneous and very enriching group. In my case, I was lucky to share my experience with Gilles Parmentier (Belgium), Kristian Kouhia (Finland), Dražen Surbek (Croatia), Nils Nilsson (Sweden) and Luis Miguel Bustamante (Spain). After having completed the FEGGA scholarship, I can only thank everyone who makes this project feasible and everyonee who has made it possible for me to get here. The application for the 2024 edition is open so those of you who are interested do not hesitate to participate in the selection process (more information: FEGGA website).