Fibion Chikwaya’s Links greenkeeping experience

From Royal Harare Golf Club in Zimbabwe, Fibion Chikwaya recently made the long trip to the Home of Golf to put his greenkeeping experience to the test.

Royal Harare Golf Club

Whilst here, he worked alongside our greenkeeping teams from across our seven courses including the Old Course. It wasn’t just St Andrews Fibion explored either. Alongside Craig Berry, Old Course Supervisor, Fibion travelled the east coast visiting Kingsbarns Golf Links and Lundin Golf Club among others meeting his fellow greenkeepers.  

We sat down with Fibion to learn a little more about him and his time at the Links:

How did the opportunity to work at the Links come about?

It was through the R&A Greenkeeping Scholarship programme. I was enrolled into it through assistance from Wendy Cole, R&A Sustainability Manager. She visited Zimbabwe in 2016 for a greenkeeping symposium.

What are the differences between working as a greenkeeper at Royal Harare Golf Club and the Links?

  • Machinery: The cutting heights of the greens are different – ours at Royal are cut roughly 2mm lower.
  • Environment: The courses at the Links are open with very few to no trees where as we have many tree species to manage at Royal.
  • Number of employees: We have a staff compliment of 13 while at the Links there are 18+ for the Old Course alone.
  • Irrigation: The Links’ system is automated while at Royal it’s all manual. The equipment at the Links is much more advanced.
  • Sharpening of mower blades: The Links use a sharpening machine/grinder. At Royal, we only back-lap which is another form of sharpening where you apply grinding compound and turn the reels to work backwards so they self-sharpen almost.

The experience had to be captured on the iconic Swilcan Bridge

What have you learned whilst working at the Links – any knowledge/skills you’ll be taking back home to Zimbabwe?

  • I learned about new and advanced automated irrigation systems and equipment.
  • The sharpening of mower blades and cutting cylinders using grinders.
  • The way the Links re-seed the course.
  • Effective work flow planning and team working.
  • Excellent time management.

Fabion with Innis Knight, Superintendent at Kingsbarns Golf Links

Fibion with Course Manager of Lundin Golf Club, Willie Swan

What’s your favourite thing about Scotland? 

The topography of the golf courses at the Links. It was my first encounter with them and I was taken aback by the presentation of the landscape. The ocean breeze was also refreshing and adds to the challenge of playing the courses.

Not to suggest you would pick the Old Course, but outside of it, which course in the world would you like to be head greenkeeper of and why? 

The Castle Course because of its topography and challenge it presents.

It was a pleasure welcoming Fibion to the Links. Whilst he left with a new experience and skills, it was also great to learn about greenkeeping in Zimbabwe and about Fibion – a major credit to the greenkeeping industry!

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