Q&A: The 'only' turf girl at Riviera
While some of the biggest names in golf were treading the hallowed Riviera Country Club turf at last week’s Genesis Invitational, hosted by Tiger Woods, one volunteer was making waves of her own.
Arianna Roquemore, a turf assistant in training at Valley Country Club in Colorado who has enrolled in the Penn State Turfgrass Program, was the only female at the Los Angeles venue in a team of 67 workers.
She worked on the front 9 fairway team and mowed every morning and a couple of evenings, earning her praise from peers in turf and former Solheim Cup star Christina Kim and even meeting her favorite player Jordan Spieth.
“HUGE shoutout to Ari for being the lone (badass!) woman to work the long agronomy hours prepping The Genesis Invitational this week. Hats off to you, Arianna!” said Kim on Twitter.
After Arianna returned to Colorado, where she said she “loves her coworkers there, they are so open and accepting”, the 24-year-old replied to a Q&A on Twitter with Syngenta.
Q: So let’s talk Riviera, what were your nerves like beforehand? Did you know you were going to be the only female?
AR: My nerves were completely through the roof! The Genesis Invitational was my first PGA tournament to volunteer at so I didn’t know what to expect.
I had a slight feeling that I was going to be the only woman but you never know right? In the end I really enjoyed being the only one after all.
Q: Who was your role model growing up? And how about recently?
AR: My role model growing up was definitely my mother. She’s always supported me in anything I’ve done and she’s the toughest person I know. She’s gone through cancer three times and currently is suffering from Lupus SLE and she’s still kicking it. I’ve always thought to myself if my mom can do anything while she’s gone though all this then I can too.
My most recent role model is more than one person, it’s all of the ladies in the turf industry. There’s not many of us but they are a powerhouse. Blessed to be a part of that.
Q: Why did you opt for Penn State and can you talk about support for women in the industry with groups like Ladies Leading Turf?
AR: I chose to enroll at Penn State because I know a few people that have gone there and have told me that it was a great school to go for turf. I’m excited to go back to school with something that I’m actually interested in.
I knew there wasn’t going be a lot of women in this industry but there should be. I wasn’t exposed to golf or anything like that until I met my fiancé. It’s hard to get more women in this industry because I feel like they think it’s a guy job only when it’s not. They don’t see women on the grounds crew very often or maybe even at all so they just assume it’s only for men. I want women to grow in the golf world in all ways possible. I’m proud to be part of this group.
Q: Did you encounter any difficult moments during the week? Have you ever experienced outdated views of gender inequality?
AR: I didn’t experience any difficult moments during the week unless you count me missing my alarm one day by accident!
I didn’t experience anything like gender inequality during the last week or at my current job but my first golf course there were boys that would talk about how I shouldn’t be on a mower because I’m a girl and that they should be doing it. It didn’t feel great yet at the same time I brushed it off because I didn’t care. I knew what I enjoyed doing and it was taking care of the course. I have become more confident in the last week with where I am in this industry.
Q: What’s next for you?
AR: I honestly don’t know what’s next for me. I’m hoping to go to at least one more tournament this year and make as many relationships as possible. I’m not going to remain in the shadows, women need to be noticed and congratulated for being in such a male-dominated field. I want to make a change, I want women to know that this isn’t just a boy’s job, it’s for everyone and anyone that enjoys being outside and being creative!
Q: What’s the next big event?
AR: The next big event that I’m planning on going to is definitely the 2023 US Women’s Open at Pebble Beach. I’m hoping that if I go we have a good group of women on the team. I wouldn’t mind being the lone woman again but at the same time it would be nice to be with other women that get just as excited as I do about this job.
Q: Final thoughts?
AR: I love what I do, I love this industry and I’m so very blessed to be where I am today. My superintendent is a great mentor and I’m blessed that he gave me the chance to be on his crew. I haven’t been in this industry for very long but I’m proud of the progress that I have made.
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