Greenkeeping has for too long been viewed as a bastion of the male workforce. However, increasingly progressive clubs and course managers recognise that women are not only equally capable of the work, but also bring valuable skill sets to the turf team environment.
At Le Golf National in France - host of The HNA French Open in June and then this year's supreme golf battle between Europe and the US - here will be at least 10 women working on the greenkeeping team's Turf Team Challenge in September.
With Syngenta sponsoring the turf team working at LGN, the company's EAME Turf Marketing Manager, Caroline Carroll (pictured below), believes it's an incredible opportunity for women greenkeepers to learn from the experience and to showcase their skills, as well as to demonstrate as role models that the industry is open for a successful career path.
At LGN, Caroline caught up with Spanish greenkeeper, Lara Arias, who has only been working on a golf course for the past four years. "I knew, right away, that 'this will be my future'. I love every aspect of the work," Lara enthused.
An intern of the Ohio State University Turf Programme, she started working in the Le Golf National team in preparation for the French Open in June. "This has been a great opportunity for me to be part of the team at Le Golf National, at one of Europe's great golf courses," she reported. "For now it is The French Open, but in a few months it will be The Ryder Cup, and the possibility to work with a huge team for a great tournament."
Having met Le Golf National Courses & Estates Manager, Alejandro Reyes, through the Ohio network, Lara says working at LGN has given the chance to meet new people from across Europe; from Spain, Portugal, France and England - all working on the team.
"It's an opportunity to network and to share experiences with everyone. "We know that we have to set up the golf course in the best way possible, and that we have to take care of the small details.
But everyone working on this course, right now, have the passion for the business," she highlighted. "And that's what makes it so exciting to be a part of."
Lara highlighted that, regrettably, it is fact that you don't find too many women working in this business. "But I have met great women working as assistants and as superintendents, which gives me the inspiration to continue.
"It doesn't matter if you are female or male, the most important thing is to have the desire to be in the business. We are all working here together, as a team, because we share that passion."
She acknowledges it is true that women cannot be as physically strong as some of the men, but brains will always beat brawn in thinking a way around resolving a problem. "We can do the same work on the course, and we take care of the details that makes for a great course and player experience.
"People have to change their mindset that this business is only for men, because we can do it" urged Lara, who works along with another female greenkeeper, Eva Largeau, at LGN. "Here, people see women working on the golf course and they see that we are doing a good job.
"Give us opportunities to work on the golf course, and you will see that it will be fine. We have shown that there isn't any problem to have women working on a golf course; we can do everything."
Lara is clear in her long-term objectives for her career path: "For now I am super happy to be working as a greenkeeper. For sure I would like to be a superintendent, when I am ready. But there is no rush now. I would love to develop as an assistant, and then again as an assistant (on another course), to gain experience, and then, maybe, after that as a superintendent."
As for her experiences of working at Le Golf National so soon into her career, she added: "I love working in the tournament environment. I would love to, one day, prepare my own golf course for a great tournament - maybe a European Tour or a PGA Tour event."
What is abundantly clear from the women working at Le Golf National is their passion and commitment for greenkeeping, and their desire to encourage more women to pursue the career. "When you really love your job it makes every day easier," said Lara. "I hope to be working on a golf course for all of my life."
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