Kayla Kipp has always had a knack for working with her hands. It’s a trait she acquired from her father at an early age.
“He worked on a lot of things,” she says. “Everything from small engines to dozers. Whatever he was doing, I wanted to be in the garage with Dad. I was always learning something. It wasn’t real structured learning. It was kind of just watching him and seeing how he took things apart and laid them out. I really enjoyed watching him.”
After high school, Kipp took her love of machines into the Air Force. After leaving the service, she attended a job fair and learned her mechanical skills were an optimum fit for the world of turf.
Kipp spent most of a decade at the Wisp Resort in McHenry, Maryland, including seven years as the equipment maintenance manager for the resort’s two golf courses.
At the start of the 2022 season, she received the equipment manager’s post at 36-hole Nemacolin in Farmington, Pennsylvania, southeast of Pittsburgh, where she and an assistant work alongside director of turfgrass management Chris Anderson.
Kipp’s responsibilities include not just repairing any maintenance equipment that breaks down, but also keeping an eye out for potential problems before they actually surface. She takes a hands-on approach to her job.
“Quality of turf comes out of the shop, not out of the office,” she says. “It is my job to make sure that whenever those reels go out on that golf course that they are cutting grass clean and (the club) has healthy turf to show to the players and guests. It’s paramount. If we’re not providing a great cut on our turf and it’s constantly unhealthy, we can’t get ahead of the curve.”
During her visit with Rick Woelfel on the Wonderful Women of Golf podcast, Kipp noted the importance of being on the same page as Anderson.
“They have some pretty aggressive agronomy practices,” she says. “They’ve been topdressing fairways and greens, too. It’s the little things in the beginning. They told me what they wanted. I told them what I needed to do that for them. The communication part is really awesome with Chris. He’s very open to new ideas, doing things better.”
The GCSAA recently implemented a certification program for equipment managers that Kipp, who is part of the GCSAA’s Equipment Managers Task Group, believes will elevate the status of the profession.
“They are promoting us as equipment managers,” she says. “We are the No. 2 guys and gals on the staff. The GCSAA is committed to serving their members and advancing the profession and improving communities through the growth and vitality of the game of golf. What better way to advance the profession of equipment manager than to create a program where they can promote themselves, show their leadership, what they know, and get certificates for that?”
Kipp was asked what personal qualities would best serve someone looking to have a career as an equipment manager.
“Attention to detail,” she says. “A go-getter. Someone who is always looking for the next thing to work on. You can fall behind really easy in this position if you’re not always thinking about how you can improve what you’re doing, what the course is doing and what the superintendent is trying to provide.
“You have to have enthusiasm for what you’re doing. If you come to work and you change oil and it’s no fun, (the profession) is probably not for you. And if you don’t like tearing things apart and having to figure out how to put them back together, maybe it’s not your cup of tea.
“But, if you’re into it, and you can keep yourself busy, you’ll have a long career. There is no shortage of things to work on, on a golf course.”