78th U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach
For the first time in history, Pebble Beach hosted the 78th U.S. Women’s Open Championship, in July 2023. The USWO is the most prestigious and historical event in women’s golf. Volunteering at the USWO is hard work but a very rewarding and enjoyable event for many.
For the third year in a row, Rain Bird has partnered with Syngenta to get more women volunteers at prestigious events like the USWO. GCSAA reports there has been a 43% increase in women’s membership since the first Women in Turf Team volunteer group at The Olympic Club in 2021. While that’s still less than 3% of total membership, they are moving in the right direction. Three women share their thoughts and experience from this year’s tournament.
As Morgan Creighton described it, it was “an experience of a lifetime.” Having no previous tournament volunteer experience, it was nerve-wracking and overwhelming for Morgan as she first walked into the volunteer tent with a hundred other people. But her nerves were calmed after quickly realizing how excited and welcoming everyone was and they were all ready for a fabulous week.
Morgan was paired with Reynerio, (Pebble Beach Turf Team Member), for the whole week. Reynerio made sure that Morgan was having a good time, was comfortable, and understood everything. Morgan expressed her thanks by saying, “he was my personal Pebble tour guide showing me everything the course had to offer. Rey was one reason my week was as phenomenal as it was.”
37 women volunteered this year and it was important for us to build a strong and reliable team and network. Everyone was welcoming and inclusive of others and was looking for ways to support one another in the future. As Morgan recalls “the 8-day stint at Pebble was beyond exhausting, but worth every second. I am extremely lucky to have been one of the few who was able to experience this level of camaraderie and networking. As much as I want to attend more of them in the future, I would like other women in the industry to be able to experience what I did during this week.”
Pam Brown, retired superintendent at Keystone Ranch Golf Course came up with the word “wow” as the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the week and said, “It was a pretty diverse group both in age and backgrounds—which made for a good mix.” She also expressed her gratitude for Bubba’s team because they were so welcoming and accepting of everyone.
Pam’s biggest takeaway from this volunteer experience was that “Generation, Gender, and Ethnicity can work well together functioning at a high level.” It is now time to take that and apply it to the real world.
During the volunteer experience, Pam learned a great deal from Natalie Russell. She learned “that it’s okay to be fun and youthful. Never lose the inner child in us and it’s okay not to take things too seriously. It’s okay to not put up a guard because you can miss out on some awesome things.”
Amanda Fontaine, superintendent at Ledges Golf Club thought the week passed by in a flash. She describes, “Being around like-minded people who share not only the lifestyle I do, but the same ambitions and drive to present a great productive day after day was not only empowering, but it was comforting. It was a great feeling of not having to prove myself to these people and be relaxed doing what we do every day without the thought of someone asking why we were there or if we were good enough.”
Amanda also shared her sentiments for the next step for Women in Turf: “The next step is to keep on pushing. Making women in the industry a mainstream fact is the next step. Making it so that at an event, may it be a chapter, national conference, or even a small training, we aren’t the token women at the event. Walking into a room and seeing all men is going to be in the past. These mentor groups helping females come up into the industry is a great way to get women interested. It’s time to get out of our comfort zones and do our part for the women in the industry to gain momentum in the younger generations.”
77th USWO Stories – READ HERE
76th USWO Stories – READ HERE
Rain Bird is the Preferred Supplier of Golf Irrigation Equipment for Pebble Beach Resorts.