My name is Siboniso Patrick Zwane. I’m from the Kingdom of Swaziland in Africa. I’m very new in the profession with just 3 years of experience. I have a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture degree and a New Zealand Certificate of Horticulture (Sports Turf – Level 3). I’m a four-year member of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA).
What attracted you to greenkeeping?
As a young boy, the dream was to become a sports journalist. But somehow, I found myself studying towards the Bachelor of Science in Horticulture degree. At that point, I thought I would become a farm manager or an agriculture extension officer. But upon my graduation, I learnt about amazing work experience programs in the United States for young greenkeepers from all over the world. I decided to apply and I was selected to participate in the life-changing Worldwide Farmers Exchange (WFE) program. Going to the United States wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the Golf Course Superintendent, the Assistant Golf Course Superintendents and the Greens Department’s Secretary at Lancaster Country Club. I was facing a number of financial difficulties but they pulled about every trick to help me. I will forever feel indebted to them.
What’s the best thing you’ve learned during your career?
I’ve learnt that mother nature can foil even the best laid-out plans. When things are not going well, be nice to yourself and have a beer.
What’s the most difficult challenge you’ve had to face?
My biggest challenge is that the industry is not big in my country. Most, if not all of the golf courses here are not maintained up to championship standards. That makes it difficult for us as qualified greenkeepers to find employment here. We constantly have to move to other countries. And now with the coronavirus pandemic, I can’t even go to work overseas. It’s a very difficult time really. I’m currently unemployed and it doesn’t look like the situation will change anytime soon.
Best career achievement?
That’s a difficult one because I’m just starting out in the industry. Maybe I can say my biggest achievement is that I’ve worked in leading golf courses in both the United States and New Zealand. I’ve been at Lancaster Country Club (Lancaster, PA, USA), Peninsula Golf & Racquet Club (Gulf Shores, AL, USA) and Wainui Golf Club (Wainui, Auckland, NZ). Lancaster Country Club’s Flynn course is ranked among the top 100 classic courses in the United States.
What keeps you in the industry?
The reason I haven’t left greenkeeping is because I enjoy the great outdoors. Another thing is that I’ve met a number of good people in this profession. They still encourage me to keep going.
What inspiring words would you say to young greenkeepers?
I would encourage young greenkeepers to work hard and ask a lot of questions. There’s nothing like a stupid question.
What are your future goals?
The end goal is to become a Certified Golf Course Superintendent at a top tournament course. I know it’s a long hard road but God-willing, I will eventually get there.
My favourite sport is football with Marcus Rashford being my favourite sportsperson. I admire the work that the young man is doing outside the football field.
What’s your dream job?
My dream job would be somewhere in Qatar or the United Arab Emirates. I’ve seen courses from that part of the world on television and they are very beautiful. Another opportunity in New Zealand would be a good one also. I had the time of my life in that country.
What do you think of International Greenkeepers For Hire?
The International Greenkeepers for Hire (IGFH) is a great organisation for greenkeepers. I particularly like the IGFH’s Facebook group where knowledge about the profession is shared. It is also a good platform for networking. I’ve seen a number of people getting employment through the IGFH. I also met a potential employer on the platform unfortunately, their government is taking forever in as far as the visa process is concerned. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.