Miranda Robinson and Kendra Kiss

Helping Lift the Handicap for Women in Golf

An old joke claims that GOLF stands for “Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden”, and although increasing numbers of women are now playing or working in golf, it is still very much a man’s world.

In response to the increasing number of women working in golf, Bayer hosted the first “Women in Golf” meeting in Toronto, Canada this past September. This event was specifically designed for women in the turfgrass industry and aimed at helping them meet the challenges they face on and off the turf. Golf Course Superintendents and Assistant Golf Course Superintendents from across Ontario attended the event, including Miranda Robinson and Kendra Kiss who here share their thoughts and experiences.

Kendra Kiss It can be quite intimidating being a woman at a high caliber golf club. It’s a competitive business and positions like mine can be considered desirable. As well as being challenged over whether we have the physical strength for a demanding role, I find as women we can have trouble getting our voice heard and being accepted if we speak our mind. Also, compared to our male colleagues, the need to constantly prove ourselves combined with close scrutiny of everything we do can lead to a sense of disconnect within an industry that relies on teamwork.

Miranda Robinson I realized at Bayer’s Women in Golf event that feeling intimidated is one of the biggest challenges for many women in our industry. At first I wasn’t sure about a women-only event, but I quickly saw that it was a great way of allowing everyone to feel comfortable. During both the learning sessions and side-discussions there was a real feeling of liberation at being able to speak up without worrying about reactions. I am sure many of the participants came away feeling much more confident about themselves.

Kendra Kiss It really was a wonderful day. It was stimulating and inspiring, and a real opportunity to be ourselves without any fear of being judged. There was such a sense of freedom! I encountered sexual harassment early on in my career and this event provided a forum where we could talk openly about this difficult topic. I came away feeling that I would like to encourage and support other women to be their best in this business and assist our profession in creating an intelligent and open dialogue to highlight new prospects and show what a cool career path it could be!

Miranda Robinson That’s true. Women need to get in touch with our ability to lead. We’re fantastic at it – we lead children through life and help them grow up to be great and we can take that into the workplace too. I’d love to see some kind of mentoring program for women in golf. And after the Bayer event I feel inspired to go right out to the ground level and talk to girls in high school about my own experience, so that they can use it to feel empowered to do well in whatever future they choose.
I was so proud that a big company like Bayer braved holding an event like this in a male-dominated business like golf.

Kendra Kiss I agree. This was the first event for women that I’ve heard of and I hope they continue as it was a great learning experience. There was a lot of fascinating information pertaining to turf-grass and the environment. This is a challenging area for our industry as a whole as we are seeing a rise in criticism. I think turf managers are passionate about the environment – in fact we’re environmental stewards. We are very concerned about turf quality, air quality and water quality for our courses and the surrounding areas. Many golf courses help create sanctuaries for wildlife such as putting up bird houses, maintaining wetlands and naturalizing open spaces.

Miranda Robinson, Head Superintendent at Summerlea Golf Club
Miranda Robinson, Head Superintendent at Summerlea Golf Club
Miranda Robinson,
Head Superintendent at Summerlea Golf Club, a club of some 30 members plus a public course, in Port Perry.

Kendra Kiss, Lead Technician at Magna Golf Club
Kendra Kiss, Lead Technician at Magna Golf Club
Kendra Kiss,
Lead Technician at Magna Golf Club, a premium club catering to 250 members in Aurora.

The two clubs have a different profile, but both are close to Toronto. Miranda and Kendra had already met before the “Women in Golf” event. They both share a love of the sport and the great outdoors – and both recognize that many women in their industry face challenges.

Miranda Robinson Golf courses are actually massive green spaces and the environmental benefit they bring is much greater than the impact of any inputs we use. I believe Bayer is fully in tune with that approach – they’re always looking to bring in new, more targeted products for lower impact. They’re always looking for ways of helping us managers produce healthier turf and in the end that also enhances the wellbeing of the people who play golf on our course. Golfers are the reason we do our job and providing them with a quality playing surface is what we strive for every day. Our golfers often ask me about what I’m spraying and Bayer’s events help me to describe how and why I am spraying what I do, which is highly beneficial, especially when explaining the environmental benefits of this vs that.

Kendra Kiss Our members’ wellbeing is very important. At our club the expectations are astronomically high and a turf manager aims to create the best conditions possible. I believe Bayer aims to offer products that assist us in growing healthy turf while allow us the ability offer those pristine conditions with less inputs and less effort.

Miranda Robinson Yes, that concern came through strongly at the Women in Golf event, and so did their commitment to going beyond simply supporting us in doing our job to helping us both as golf course superintendents and as women. The day helped us to create a real network of women with the same professional passions and challenges. I hope there will be more events like the Bayer Women in Golf day!

The next Women in Golf day is being organized in March. For more information about Bayer’s Turf and Ornamentals business please see here.

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