Kristel Mulle-Vaik, Current Chairperson of the Estonian Greenkeepers Association, and a R&A Scholar shares her recent Experiences


Kristel Mulle-Vaik (2nd from left) with her team from Niitvalja Golf Club


I wanted to share some examples of the great work that the R&A and FEGGA are doing – it could be really life changing.

Estonia is a small country (1.2 million people) but we have 8 golf courses. I´ve been a greenkeeper since 2004 and I always thought that one day it would be great to establish greenkeepers association.

The right time arrived in autumn 2013 when I was sitting in my office and was looking at the BIGGA website, suddenly I noticed that a program called GreenQampus is called in and one of the partners is one Estonian Vocational school – the purpose of the program is to develop and enable greenkeeping studies, and the program envolved 7 partners from different countries (Benesov College Czech Republic, Czech Greenkeepers Association, Kainuu College Finland, Luua Vocational Training Centre Estonia, SRUC Elmwood Campus, GT-E and the Federation of European Golf Greenkeepers Association – FEGGA).

So I thought greenkeeping studies in Estonia – great. I wrote to Luua school and as the first partners meeting took place in Estonia I was also invited to attend. And that was the day when I met Mr Dean Cleaver – Executive Officer of FEGGA – and that was really life changing for me.

We started to make plans and Dean offered that they could come back to Estonia in the springtime (2014) and with the help and support from the R&A, would run a FEGGA Roadshow here for local greenkeepers. FEGGAś and R&A´s help and support has been priceless!

In March 2014 we had the first Roadshow in Estonia, it was a 2 day event and a really big success, we had more than 60 people all together (including GreenQampus partners) and it was a really big notice that greenkeepers in Estonia are interested to educate themselves, they wanted to be recognized as greenkeepers and they want to come together.

During that event we decided (me and 4 more greenkeepers) to establish Estonian Greenkeepers Association and I became the only member of the board (no one else wanted to manage it, but there´s probably a need to be one person in the beginning).

Then the golf season started and there was less time to work with greenkeepers association especially as I was promoted to Course Manager (I was deputy head greenkeeper for the last 5 years), then I was awarded an R&A Scholarship, and in December I graduated my golf course management 3-year studies in Sruc Elmwood (distance learning). What a great year!

In January 2015 we started to make new plans to organise next event in Estonia, in the meantime FEGGA held its annual conference, which took place in Portugal in February and I was also invited there and asked to make a small presentation. I was very nervous but I was really impressed how friendly people from every European association were and how well they welcomed me – it´s like a big family and I´m very proud to be part of that family.

The time went by and we found it difficult to organise all the speakers with such a short time (my idea was to have greenkeeping event in March when there´s not high season yet) and to have FEGGA Roadshow. So instead I decided to organise it myself, of course with the support from Dean and FEGGA. I also invited Alex Höfinger from Austrian Greenkeepers Assocoiation who I met in Portugal during FEGGA Conference and Symbio.

But still it was very first event I organised from the beginning – it was quite a big challenge because there’s so many small details to think about, starting from pens etc. I also managed to find 3 sponsors and charged from each greenkeeper 5 euros. So the date was 27th of March and again – I was really, really happy to see so many greenkeepers coming together, we had 47 people! And we recieved 20 more applications to become a member.

So what I´m trying to say – never give up and follow you dreams, if something doesn´t work out then the time just wasn´t right – everything happens for a reason and when there’s the right time. It’s always good to have great contacts!

News2 comments

  1. Alex says:

    Hi Kristel!

    Great story and article. As you wrote, I was fortunate enough to join one of your events and was impressed by your work, professionalism and dedication. Keep it up, people like you are needed in this wonderful industry. Alex

  2. Good morning, appreciate if you could email me as above to open some discussions on Greenkeeping education and training in Europe in general

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