Female leaders call for diversity ramp up

Ladies Leading Turf 2021

Five leading female figures have urged golf to go further on the subject of diversity in the industry.

Speaking as panel members at Ladies Leading Turf, the group were encouraged by the progress that has been made in recent years, but acknowledged there is more work to be done.

Ladies Leading Turf is an annual event taking place as part of the Golf Industry Show. It was founded by Leasha Schwab, Superintendent at Pheasant Run Golf Course in Ontario, and is supported by Syngenta. The event brings together leading female figures in the turf profession to talk about their experiences in the profession and discuss topical issues and challenges facing women.

This year’s panel comprised:

  • Summer Greene, Owner of Reems Creek Golf Club, North Carolina
  • Jennifer Torres, Superintendent at Westlake Golf and Country Club, New Jersey
  • Kelly Kuchelmeister, Superintendent at Sinnissippi Golf Course, Illinois
  • Lucy Sellick, Superintendent at Wenvoe Castle Golf Club, UK
  • Nancy Miller, Retired Superintendent, formerly of Maple Leaf Golf and Country Club, Florida
  • Jan Beljan (Chair), Golf Course Architect and President of the ASCGA (American Society of Golf Course Architects)

Following an individual presentation from each panel member, where they recounted their respective journeys to leadership in the industry, the panel discussed the barriers they had faced, how women can progress into prominent roles and the subject of increasing diversity.

“We need to be open, broaden horizons, reach out to school districts and show them that this profession exists,” said Superintendent Jennifer Torres.

Lucy Sellick agreed, saying: “Most people don’t know that this is a career. We have to build more awareness.”

Course Owner Summer Greene highlighted her work to bring more women into key roles: “We hired a female Director of Golf and a female General Manager and the reaction was so interesting.

“A guy came to the course and said ‘I feel as though I’m in the twilight zone, there are no men around here’ to which I replied ‘welcome to our world’.”

“As women we need to help pull up and promote other women to positions of high visibility and prominence,” Summer added.

Superintendent Kelly Kuchelmeister encouraged the industry to also look outside its scope to bring more diversity to the profession: “Don’t be afraid to hire people from non-golf backgrounds.

“A number of my workers had little knowledge of the game when they started, but they have turned out to be some of the best.”

This year’s virtual event was rounded off with an informal networking session for both men and women working across different roles in turf, and representatives from the wider golf industry.