Female duo blazing a trail
Fran Kocsis may be one half of the only all-female head pro-superintendent duo in the United States, but for her it’s no big deal.
Kocsis and Sherri Brogan occupy the two key leadership positions at Champions Golf Course in Ohio, but she says: “I’m not sure either of us have ever given it a lot of thought,” she says in an interview first published by USGA. “We both love what we do, we’re kind of married to our jobs.
“We’re well qualified to do what we do, and we have years of experience. Until about four years ago, our golf administrator was a female as well, so I guess it’s not unusual around here to see women in charge.”
While many organisations now recognise that diverse management teams achieve greater profitability – as we discuss in this feature on changing the face of the golf business – female golf club managers account for less than 9% of the total in the USA and superintendents just 1.5%.
Diversity in golf is moving in the right direction, though, according to Kocsis.
“Things have changed. Women are now becoming directors of golf, head golf pros, prominent teachers,” she continues. “People are starting to recognize women do a damn good job at what they do.”
Fellow trailblazer Brogan, who has earned her Class A certification from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America during a 30-year tenure as head superintendent at Champions, admits her rise to the top has not been without its challenges.
“It’s taken me quite a while to prove myself, but I’m not sure I’ve proved myself to everyone yet,” she says. “But I’m at the point now where I really don’t care.
“I know what the golf course looks like and the product I give. I think I’ve accomplished a lot, but it has not been easy. It has gotten better, but it has a long way to go.”
The pair’s experiences will resonate with Leasha Schwab, a successful superintendent in Canada, who revealed in this piece that she had lost count of the number of times she has been asked whose wife she was at the Golf Industry Show.
Schwab set up Ladies Leading Turf, a networking group to support and promote women in the turf industry which met for the second time at the Golf Industry Show in February 2019.
“Women and juniors are some of the fastest growing parts of golf right now,” says Schwab. “Golf is starting to become more of a family activity. I think if you have more women on your staff and on your board it brings a different perspective.”
Like Schwab, Kocsis and Brogan would love to see more women in the golf industry.
“I think it already is happening,” says Kocsis. “The LPGA is producing a lot of high-quality teachers and club pros, as well as club managers, administrators. We’re finding our niches in the business.
“I think, especially for female teachers, there seems to be more respect. It’s still very, very difficult. It’s still a very male-oriented sport and there are still a lot of hurdles. But at least it is happening.”