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Keeping up with the Jones: Three tips to grow the 3-percent

By |  August 8, 2022 0 Comments
Photo: Seth Jones

Photo: Seth Jones

In my free time (ha!) I read chapter publications to see what is being written about at the local level of the industry. I get quite a few of the various chapter publications, both in print and via email. If you have a chapter publication and I’m not getting it, I’d be honored to be added to your circulation list.

It was in the new Carolinas Green (the official publication of the Carolinas GCSA and a fantastic read) that a story caught my eye: “Labor a hot topic at Return of the Southeast Conference.” At the conference, Devon Carroll, Ph.D., solutions development manager, Bayer Environmental Science, gave a presentation to attendees on her research paper titled, “Women in Turf: A Qualitative Study Examining How Women Have Sustained Their Leadership Role in the Turfgrass Industry.” Based on the article, the presentation was a success and created some insightful discussion.

Knowing that this issue of Golfdom has a cover story focused on women in turf, I contacted Carroll to learn more about her presentation and how her paper — available online at — can help our readers. I also asked her how that talk given to a room full of superintendents in Raleigh, N.C. went.

“I’ll admit I was a little nervous to give that talk,” Carroll told me about the presentation at the Southeast Conference. “I’d given it a few times to women at different women in turf events. That was the first time I gave it to guys. The response was super-positive. They were asking me specific things like, ‘What can I do to make sure the women at my course feel like a part of the team?’ and ‘What can I do to attract more women?’”

Those questions were also my questions, so I asked Carroll to elaborate. “This is largely related to my own experience working on courses, and not necessarily from my research — in my opinion, there are three things you can do to make women feel more comfortable,” she said. They are:

  • Be considerate about staff clothing. “I worked at one club that gave me a men’s XL polo. The sleeves are down to my elbows, I feel ridiculous, I look ridiculous. It was a signal that I did not belong on that team.”
  • Think through and consider the locker room and bathroom situation. “I understand that not every facility is going to be set up to have men’s and women’s rooms, but just think about it. It could be as simple as putting a lock on the main door.”
  • Consider the overall culture of the crew. “Like it or not, any time you put a group of guys together, sometimes there will be language or topics of conversation that aren’t professional. Keep in mind that a golf course crew room is a professional setting. Whether the ladies are present or not, keep the culture approachable if and when women do join the crew.”

Our cover story, “Jump right in,” profiles four women in the industry and their experience maintaining golf courses around the country. Digital Editor Sydney Fischer and Managing Editor Jon Delozier collaborated on the story and did a great job spotlighting these turf professionals. We’re happy to share their stories.

Where will this women in turf trend go? Carroll remains optimistic.

“It’s hard to predict, but I feel good about where we’re headed,” Carroll said. “I remember going to a conference and being the only woman in the room. Now, eight years later, it’s still heavily male-dominated, but women are gaining traction. I don’t think it’ll ever be 50/50, and I don’t think that is the goal. Women are three percent of the golf course working population right now, and I’d love to see it hit 5, 10, 15 percent in the next few years. I definitely see it tracking that way.”

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