US Women’s Open: All-female turf team excels again
Togetherness, camaraderie and a sense of belonging are on display in abundance during preparations for the second major on the LPGA calendar this week.
A 30-strong turf team of female volunteers, supported by Syngenta, have travelled to North Carolina for the 77th U.S. Women’s Open.
They will assist David Fruchte, Pine Needles Lodge & Country Club Director of Golf Course Maintenance, and his team as they prepare the course.
It's the second time an exclusively female team have been handed an opportunity like this one, following the success of the initiative last year in San Francisco – the brainchild of Syngenta's Kimberly Gard and Olympic Club Director of Maintenance Troy Flanagan.
Jennifer Torres, superintendent at Westlake Golf and Country Club in Jackson Township, New Jersey, will be among those volunteering at Pine Needles.
"Having been in the industry for nearly 20 years, many of those years I felt like I was alone, as many of us have felt," Torres said.
Despite the small proportion of female turf professionals globally (women make up less than 2% of the GCSAA (Golf Course Superintendents Association of America) total membership and less than 1% of members of BIGGA (British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association) there is cause for optimism.
The advent of networking opportunities for female turf professionals, now both on and off the golf course, is helping build a stronger sense of community.
And with events such as Ladies Leading Turf, there is a platform for women to share their experiences with others and welcome younger females into the profession too.
The success of last year's initiative at the Olympic Club did not go unnoticed. It has encouraged newcomers, like Tonya Anderson, Superintendent at Old Memorial Golf Club in Tampa, Florida, into the fold.
"I was totally in awe of the production put on last year. I followed on social media and thought the volunteer aspect was awesome. I knew I wanted to get involved and immerse myself in the culture this year," she said.
Back at Pine Needles, the team is busy with final preparations before the curtain lifts on this year's event.
One of the 30-strong volunteer crew is Sally Jones, General Manager and Superintendent at Benson Golf Club, Minnesota. She hopes initiatives like this can help inspire a new generation of female turf professionals.
"I'm here to make more females understand that the golf course industry is something they can pursue as a career.
"Us gathering in groups and getting ourselves out there is a great way to make people aware," she added.
The group have created their own Twitter account to document their experiences across the week. Follow @womeninturfteam for all the latest.