The Men’s Club: A female perspective

The Men’s Club: A female perspective

Assistant superintendent Jasmine Steinke shares her story of working up through the turf management ranks, and says the industry is just realizing women can be successful in this job.

March 3, 2014

Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden.

The acronym believed to represent golf for decades. It's not only applicable in the game, but the workforce as well. Women were once seen as stay-at-home laborers while the men worked and participated in leisure activities. Women were seen as fragile creatures not fit to do labor-intensive work. Times have changed and many women occupy jobs requiring both physical and mental strength and are often sole or joint providers for their families.

This modern notion holds true for the golf industry, as well, with women infiltrating a once men’s only club. Not only do women now work within all levels of the profession, but increasing numbers of women play the game. So how have women become successful at all levels of the golf industry? It isn’t revolutionary. It is just about the industry realizing that women are capable of doing the job. Women just needed to show interest and have the opportunity to shine.

I believe the best way to convey this is through my experience, as many female assistants and superintendents have shared similar stories.

I began as a summer student at a golf course and was given jobs such as mowing, bunkers, garden maintenance, weeding or edging, and administrative work. These jobs suited my creative and particular nature, but I wasn’t satisfied. I soon proved trustworthy and was given more responsibility with jobs such as watering, irrigation, using heavy machinery and leading small crews.

At first I was met with some resistance upon asking to learn every piece of equipment, but was eventually trained on most due to my persistence. After several summers as a laborer, I decided on turfgrass maintenance as a career and enrolled in a two-year program.

There were only a few women, but we were at the top of the class. Upon graduation, I applied for management positions, working my way up through various intern, training and technician jobs. I built my resume around mentors who were respected and knowledgeable.  I always felt I just needed someone to give me a chance to learn and prove myself adept. That chance came two years ago when I accepted my first assistant position.

When superintendents, male or female, look back on their careers there are similarities between their story and mine. It took hard work, knowledge, and a bit of luck to get where they are at, not unlike myself. There is no doubt that men and women are different, but what is important is that they are both capable.

My work ethic and knowledge base aren’t all that different than my male counterparts.  In the end, it takes a certain type of person to excel at this job and they are found in both genders.

My story isn’t all that different from many men who came before me and who are active today as respected turf managers. My story is just more profound because of my genetic makeup and the struggle for my gender to get here.

About the author

Jasmine Steinke is an assistant superintendent at The Briars Golf Club in Sutton West, Ontario, and a 2009 graduate of the Penn State turf program.