We recently caught up with Head Greenkeeper at Wenvoe Castle Golf Club, Lucy Sellick, to discuss what it's like being a female in our industry. The message is clear - that we need more women in the industry. Lucy certainly gives the blueprint to any young women wanting to venture into the turf sector.
What made you want to become a greenkeeper and have you found any challenges with the industry being largely male dominated?
I fell in love with greenkeeping by accident. I grew up wanting to join the Navy, but a neighbour asked if I wanted some work. He was constructing a golf course and I started working there before and after school... I never looked back! I'm sure there's been a few challenges over the years, but nothing major. The industry has been very welcoming and it's full of peers all looking out for one another - myself included.
What would your main advice be to a young Lucy coming into the industry?
There are a few things I wish I'd learned sooner; firstly, get yourself a mentor. Someone that amplifies your voice, builds your courage and confidence so you put yourself forward for opportunities. Become part of a network. It was lonely in my early days, but social media has now made it easier to reach for support and guidance. Also, be yourself. In the early years, I became one of the lads so that I could fit in and lost the true me. And finally, never stop learning.
What do you think about the BIGGA introduction of First Green to highlight the opportunities within our industry to schools?
The First Green initiative will benefit all young students by helping them apply their classroom knowledge in an outdoor setting. Women are particularly underrepresented in STEM education and, consequently, in STEM careers.
What are your own biggest achievements?
One of my biggest is purely staying in the industry - through tough times in my personal life and getting knockbacks from promotions which made it tough to carry on. That's why I talk passionately about shifting mindsets; looking for that silver lining and having thick skin. Another would be becoming a National Board Member for Southwest and South Wales with BIGGA.
Do you think that more can be done to try and balance out the industry diversity balance?
Definitely! I don't think the imbalance is intentional - it just mirrors what's going on in golf clubs where memberships are predominantly middle age, white males. This can clearly be seen in the halls at BTME. I'm always asked, 'why do you think there aren't many women in golf?' My answer is always the same - there are not many females around golf to see greenkeeping as a career. We need to find a solution, look at other sectors that have achieved this and start to make progress.