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How Kayla Kipp became the first woman to receive CTEM certification

By |  October 11, 2022 0 Comments

A path to a career in the golf industry isn’t always a straight line. Kayla Kipp, equipment manager for Nemacolin in Farmington, Pa., is a living example of that.

Kayla Kipp (Photo: Nemacolin)

Kayla Kipp (Photo: Nemacolin)

Kipp’s journey has taken her to many places, from Maryland to the U.S. Air Force. Now, Kipp can take pride in being the first woman to receive the Certified Turf Equipment Manager (CTEM) certification from the Golf Course Superintendents of America Association (GCSAA) — a program she helped to develop.

Back to basics

Kipp’s road to becoming a CTEM began in Maryland. She credits her father for her handiness, remembering riding around in his work truck as a kid and watching him work in the shop.

While in high school, Kipp didn’t see college in her future and instead decided on a career in the military.

“I tested high in the mechanical and electrical areas, so I became a heavy equipment mechanic and worked on flight line specialized equipment,” says Kipp.

After serving six years in the Air Force as a material handling and equipment maintenance journeyman, Kipp set out in search of a career. Kipp found one at a job fair where she connected with a Wisp Resort representative.

Kipp says they had her hooked within a couple of minutes. Kipp served as equipment manager at Lodestone and Fantasy Valley golf courses in McHenry, Md.

“I started by raking bunkers and mowing grass,” says Kipp. “I briefly debated becoming a superintendent, but they said, ‘Hey, you have a background in mechanics. Golf courses need mechanics. Why don’t you just do that?’ So I did.”

Kipp thrived as an equipment manager thanks to her mechanical expertise gained in the Air Force, which she says carried over to the golf course equipment she worked on at both Nemacolin, Lodestone and Fantasy Valley.

Shortly after joining Lodestone and Fantasy Valley, Kipp became a GCSAA member. She has also volunteered with the GCSAA equipment managers task group for seven years and serves on the GCSAA women’s task group.

Soon enough, Kipp found her way to Nemacolin.

Photo: Nemacolin

Photo: Nemacolin

The road to success

Kipp says the process to achieve the CTEM certification is long and intricate.

“The rubric you have to follow is about eight pages front and back,” she says. “Some items you’re allowed to fail and still pass the whole test, while others you absolutely have to pass in order to receive the title.”

To earn CTEM certification, one must serve as an equipment manager for three years, and then complete level one and level two of the Equipment Manager Certificate Program.

“To then earn her certification, she passed all 197 attesting criteria focused on best practices of maintenance facility operations, safety and the environment,” GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans says. “She is the first woman to become a CTEM, and we congratulate her on this historical achievement.”

While she worked to gain her certification, Kipp realized Nemacolin was missing some GCSAA requirements. On just her fourth day on the job, Kipp petitioned for improvements.

A day later, Nemacolin approved Kipp for $7,000.

“For the company to put this money into my hands that early on showed a huge investment in me,” Kipp says. “After they did that, I felt like I really had to get on the horse and give results.”

Six months and one week after she took over as equipment manager at Nemacolin, Kipp earned CTEM certification. The minimum amount of time a prospective CTEM must be at their facility to receive the certification is six months.

Just do it

Kipp’s advice to other women in the industry looking to challenge themselves is straightforward: Just do it.

“If you’re interested in it, go after it,” Kipp says. “There’s a huge support network. Get involved, and volunteer at events. It’s priceless.”

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