In the southwest of Germany, a special golf club is helping to develop the next generation of talented amateur and professional players. Taking pride in ensuring that the courses, numerous practice areas and surrounding landscapes are fit for purpose is Hector Zapata, the greenkeeper for the training facilities at St. Leon-Rot…
St. Leon-Rot has established a reputation throughout Europe as one of the most successful and innovative golfing organisations, specialising in the development of playing and coaching talent. A unique destination for beginners and experts alike, its golf academy provides unrivalled training for those keen to improve on all aspects of their game. Providing the best possible range of playing surfaces is a responsibility that Hector Zapata takes seriously.
Greenkeeper, St. Leon-Rot
“Players of all ages and abilities wish to improve their game, so our academy and certified PGA instructors are there to help – and it’s my team’s job to produce and maintain the greens and surrounding areas to allow this to happen.”
Tailor-made training can only happen on tailor-made facilities, so the choice of award-winning playing environments at St. Leon-Rot is second to none. St. Leon is a links-style course reminiscent of Scottish and Irish venues, and from 2011 to 2015 it was voted ‘Germany’s most popular golf course’ by the readers of Golf Journal. The neighbouring Course Rot won the same accolade for 11 consecutive years prior to that. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg…
“In addition to the two championship courses, we’ve got an attractive nine-hole course that gives players an ideal opportunity to practise their short game. This is great for beginners and younger players making the step up from our five-hole ‘children’s course’, which we hope will be the starting point for future champions!”
St. Leon-Rot’s commitment to training is also highlighted by its impressive floodlit driving range (with 134 tees) and “Wedge-o-Drom” (covering an area of 20,000 m²). There are also: seven ‘target’ greens with bunkers; two 30 m-high masts to practise the ‘draw’ and ‘fade’ of the ball; an undulating tee area; and a large, flat fairway bunker. Add to this a 1,600 m² undulating putting green, and two chipping and two pitching greens, and it’s clear that this is the ideal destination for refining stroke play, lowering handicaps and perhaps even discovering new talent.
“Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, our driving range, putting greens and ten green bunkers provide the ideal training conditions for improving any stroke. I take great pride in making sure that the playing surfaces are in tiptop condition to allow this to happen.”
The St. Leon-Rot landscape features parkland, meadows, water hazards, elaborate bunkers and undulating slopes. This means that Hector and his team rely heavily on a variety of John Deere equipment to maintain the highest golfing standards and most beautiful setting. The walk-behind mowers are among his favourite work tools as the finish is ‘perfect – for the greens and also for the greenkeeper!’ However, for covering larger areas at speed with the best quality, it’s the 2750 that he always turns to.
“The latest 2750 is so light, you can drive it with one finger! You can cut absolutely everything with this model, in all kinds of conditions – and on all sorts of terrain.”
Originally from the Dominican Republic, but resident in Germany for 21 years, Hector is also responsible for training the next generation of greenkeepers at St. Leon-Rot. He wants his new recruits to share the same passion as him for golf, grounds maintenance, and working at this special venue.
“I love my job, teaching the greenkeepers of the future everything I know about equipment, grass and maintaining the best possible greens, which to me are the heart of a golf course. They need to be perfect, like a carpet on which the ball rolls beautifully. If the green is not good, then neither is the greenkeeper!”