There’s a movement happening behind the scenes at Pine Needles. In fact, it’s in plain sight, but it’s happening so early in the morning and late at night that you’ve probably missed it: This week’s US Women’s Open field crew includes 35 women, the most large number ever recorded for a major championship.
To say that greenkeeping is a male-dominated area in golf is to say lightly. The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America found that only 2% of superintendent positions are held by women. Troy Flanagan, the maintenance manager of the Olympic Club, had the idea that when the US Women’s Open comes to its course in 2021, women should prepare this golf course. To help women in business expand their networks and gain new experiences, the USGA partnered with the Olympic Club and Syngenta (an agricultural science and technology provider) to recruit female volunteers to the 2021 US Women’s Open. A total of 29 women have joined the Olympic team.
Some of the women there had worked in field teams for years. Others, like Sun Roesslein, work in other types of turf industries. Roesslein comes from the world of sports fields. She is the manager of a sports stadium in Colorado. Volunteers did everything from raking bunkers to cutting cups.
“We felt like we had something to prove. Like, ‘Hey, we can do a fantastic job too,’” Roesslein said.
When the US Women’s Open came to Pine Needles in 2022, an even larger team of women came together to work the course: 20 new women joined 15 Olympic carryovers.
Volunteers work a shift in the morning, then take classes during the day – from diversity and inclusion to women in leadership – then work another shift in the evening. These are long days, but Roesslein said the camaraderie of the crew and the importance of the work helps with motivation.
“It was energizing,” Roesslein said. “There’s been this underlying buzz all week, like, It’s cool ? »
When the opportunity arose to rejoin the crew at Pine Needles, Roesslein did not hesitate.
“Last year was groundbreaking, historic. It changed my life. It was quite inspiring to be around so many women who came from all walks of the industry, to be able to talk, connect, problem solve and network. said Roesslein.
The team’s efforts have become known and appreciated by the players on the field. Earlier this week, three-time US Women’s Open winner Annika Sorenstam made a point of visiting the Pine Needles maintenance facility to thank the team for what they do.
For Roesslein and the others, it’s not just about preparing a championship golf course: it’s about learning and showing other women that there are career opportunities that they may not have had. – not be considered.
“We wanted to prove that we can do the job and do it at championship level and produce fantastic results,” Roesslein said. “And it’s about getting the word out: it’s such a great career. So many people just don’t know that.”