Last year Kayla Kipp and Jill Seymour shared their experience volunteering at the 2021 USWO at The Olympic Club (2021 USWO Article). See what they say about their second experience volunteering as the OGs of the group.
Kayla Kipp was formally working as the Golf Course Equipment Maintenance Manager at Lodestone Golf Course & Fantasy Valley Golf Course. While she enjoyed where she worked, the late-night winter shifts impacted her motivation to work, so she decided to take the winter off. With encouragement and tips from the Women in Turf, GCSAA, and the women she met last year, she was able to interview with the Director of Golf at Nemacolin, Chris Anderson. Nemacolin has 2 Pete Dye designed courses, one of them being Mystic Rock, where the 84 Lumber Classic was played in the early 2000s. Kipp knew she was looking for championship golf and this was her opportunity. She has been the Equipment Manager there for the last 3 months and has already obtained her Level 1 and Level 2 Equipment Manager certificates and plans on tackling the certification in the fall.
Difference between The Olympic Club and Pine Needles: “The maintenance facility was much smaller at Pine Needles, so having a lot of people in the shop all at once wasn’t helpful. I spend most of my days behind a grinder, so when I got to opportunity to become a roving technician/beverage cart attendant, it was a blessing for me. This gave me the awesome opportunity to go out and take pictures of my fellow women in turf, while they worked, and had fun singing, dancing and smiling. I was able to connect with the ladies more than I was able to at Olympic Club. At Olympic Club, I learned pivotal information in my reel grinding that has really taken me to where I am now thanks to Todd Blankenship (Bernhard Grinders). Between the two, I can’t choose a favorite because each had its perfect orientation for me at that time. Another cool difference this year, was that the women call me Miss Fix-It and no matter if it was making a go-pro tool, sharpening cup cutters, etching mugs or making tools for our cup changing crew, they knew who to call. Getting out of the daily grind is so refreshing and invigorating. As a crew, we are closer, stronger, gelling.”
Favorite Takeaways: “When I separated from the Air Force in 2012, I lost a very large family. When I became a GCSAA member in 2018, I started to see an entire world of likeminded individuals. Olympic showed me a potential family that I had been missing. When I got the chance to be on the course with the women, it was apparent, that this is my Turf Family. I don’t think there is any limit on what we would do for each other. That’s my favorite takeaway, realizing this is my family. On the side, the largest purse for the women’s open, more spectators, more females on the volunteer crew, just more! It’s growing and that is what we were hoping for.”
Work Life Balance in the Golf Industry: “Before taking the winter off, I had lost all recognition of work life balance. It was killing my spirit, my drive, and my willingness to be involved. Taking time to care for yourself is so undervalued in some circles. In turf, we care so much about what we are caring for that oftentimes we put our personal needs to the side. Take time off to be with family, travel, treat yourself. If you’re ever in a funk, step back and reevaluate what you’re looking for. It was the greatest thing I’ve done in my 34 years so far.”
Jill Seymour has been working in the golf industry for the last 20 years. She is currently the Golf Course Superintendent at Charleston Springs South Course. Seymour loves volunteering and learning new and different ways of doing things alongside other amazing people doing what they all love. Getting 30 women volunteers was unheard of…until now. This is her second time volunteering at the USWO and notes how the camaraderie between the women is unmatched compared to other events.
Difference between The Olympic Club and Pine Needles: “Last year at Olympic was monumental. It was historic in the fact that nothing like that had been done before…. bringing on a crew of 30 women volunteers to assist the maintenance crew in preparing the golf course for the tournament. This year at Pine Needles we were really able to showcase what we are capable of. With David having such a small crew…I feel we were instrumental in helping them dial everything in for the week of the tournament. We arrived on site Sunday, given our assignments that night, Monday morning we were out working alongside David’s crew without skipping a beat! The biggest challenge was probably learning to navigate the course quickly.”
Favorite Takeaways: “On Saturday, while I was cutting the pin on #17, there was a 15-year-old girl watching me. As I walked off the green, I had the pleasure of meeting Kelce and her father when she asked me for my autograph. She is an avid golf fan and is interested in becoming a Golf Superintendent when she grows up…. not far off from her dad who is a Sports Field Manager. I was blown away by the fact that she watched and was interested in the whole process of cutting the cup for the tournament. We invited them to come down to the maintenance tent later that day where the Open Cup would be. Kelce and her parents showed up and we introduced her to the entire crew….as our future…. our reason for #womeninturf!”
Best ways to increase women’s presence in golf: “Presence, visibility, and action! We need to be there…. insert ourselves…don’t wait to be invited. And once we are in….we need to prove just how passionate and capable we are! We need to continue this tradition of working the Women’s US Open. It is arguably the best platform for us to reach young women and girls interested in this as a profession.”
Barriers for women in golf: “I think one of the biggest barriers for women in golf or any profession can be ourselves. We are too often intimidated or afraid to insert ourselves and speak up. But together, as a united front, we cannot be ignored, dismissed, or hushed. That is why this dynamic group is so important. I believe it holds more weight than even we are aware. The potential of this group is massive!”