You belong: Takeaways from Bayer’s Women in Golf event

By |  September 24, 2019 0 Comments

Bayer’s inaugural Women in Golf event welcomed 50 female turf professionals from North America to Raleigh, N.C., on Sept. 18-20 for three days of education, networking and professional development.

Throughout the event, the attendees were constantly discussing how refreshing it was to not be the only woman in the room. In a male-dominated industry, many times when they attend meetings and industry events, they struggle to find female colleagues to connect with.

“It’s very intimidating to walk into a room of 50 men,” said Alex Hills assistant superintendent at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, Fla.

A sense of belonging

Photo: Golfdom staff

Carol Rau (far left), founder of Career Advantage, and Kimberly Erusha, Ph.D., managing director of USGA’s Green Section (second from left), spoke to the group as part of a panel discussion. (Photo: Golfdom Staff)

One of the main takeaways of the event for many women was a renewed sense of belonging in the industry. On the first evening of the event, attendees participated in a group activity where they sought to answer the question, “Why is an event like Women in Golf so important?”

There were many answers, including: It provides a safe place to feel comfortable, it creates empathy and it gives attendees a group of people they can rely on. Many attendees also spoke about how it made them realize that they are not alone in the industry. It helps them realize they belong.

Kimberly Erusha, Ph.D., managing director of the USGA’s Green Section, echoed the sentiment that women are welcomed in the industry when she spoke to the group on the second day of the event. Golf is not a white male game, she said, and reminded attendees that women have been managing golf for a long time, citing the book “Golf Course Common Sense” by G.A. Farley — a woman — as a prime example.

The renewed sense of belonging that Erusha and others spoke about struck a chord with many of the attendees.

“My No. 1 takeaway from the event is that you belong,” said Brandi Merrick, of Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C. “No matter what makes you different, if you love it, you belong.”

Sally Jones, superintendent of Benson Golf Club in Benson, Minn., had a similar sentiment. “We belong. That really hit home for me. My local chapter doesn’t have a lot of women, and I avoid going to meetings because I don’t know who I will talk to.”

Career development

The event also sought to help attendees develop themselves as professionals in the industry.

Carol Rau, founder of Career Advantage, spoke to attendees about what they need to do to land the job they want, even if they are working in an industry dominated by men. She advised attendees to think about their goals and lay the groundwork to reach them. If their current position isn’t the job they envision for themselves, they should start thinking about what they need to do to land a better one.

And while she was honest about the fact that women in this industry are often at a disadvantage, there are many who want to see them succeed.

“There are going to be places where you won’t get a job because you’re female,” she said. “But the thought leaders in this industry want women in leadership roles.”

Erusha reminded attendees that they don’t need to be one of the guys to be good at their job. “We all bring different skills and perspectives to the job,” she said. “Your goal is to become as technically sound and proficient in the position you are in.”

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