Ryder Cup scholars tipped to be turf leaders

Growing Golf
FEGGA Scholars Ryder Cup

The 2023 Ryder Cup has given five European turf professionals a life-changing insight into preparing a world-class tournament venue.

Kristian Kouhia (Finland), Michele Lazzeri (Italy), Mathis Reboullot (France), Oscar Gummesson (Sweden) and Ciaran Killeen (Republic of Ireland) were selected by FEGGA, the Federation of European Golf Greenkeeping Associations, for a six-month scholarship supporting the turf team at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome, Italy.

The group worked on the DP World Tour’s DS Automobiles Italian Open in May and finished by supporting the 120-strong turf team for the 44th Ryder Cup.

Dean Cleaver, Executive Officer at FEGGA, said: “It has been a really great experience for them. I’m confident that what they have learned during the placement will help them go on to become leaders of the greenkeeping community in their countries.”

The scholarship provided the opportunity to develop their knowledge and leadership skills by working under Lara Arias, the superintendent at Marco Simone who was also in charge of 2018 Ryder Cup venue Le Golf National in Paris, and Alejandro Reyes, Director of Agronomy at Marco Simone. 

FEGGA’s Ryder Cup program has grown significantly since the 2018 Ryder Cup, when 10 greenkeepers from Europe and 10 from the USA supported greenkeeping operations during the tournament week.

“We’ve taken care of their accommodation, given help with flying in and out, and there has been regular education throughout. This program is on a completely different level,” said Cleaver.

Thanks to sponsorship from CapillaryFlow and Toro, the scholars learned how to prepare an annual fertility plan, manage Poa and bent grasses on greens, understand irrigation systems, machine management, green rolling, and the design and maintenance of bunkering.

Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, Rome, Italy

Ciaran Killeen works at Balbriggan Golf Club, Dublin and switched to greenkeeping after working as a kitchen fitter.

He said: “My experience here has been great. To see first-hand the work and commitment that goes into presenting a Ryder Cup golf course day in, day out, for the best golf players in the world has been eye-opening.”

Kristian Kouhia was working at Druid’s Glen Hotel and Golf Resort, Ireland, when he applied for the FEGGA scholarship.

“I saw this opportunity to spend some time on the Ryder Cup programme and to gain more knowledge and experience in tournament preparation as invaluable, and I am so thankful to FEGGA for making this happen,” he said.