Katrin Wolfe has a passion for golf. She grew up in a golf family at the celebrated Sunnehanna Country Club in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and played collegiately at Penn State. After college, she worked in athletic administration. But when the GCSAA had an opening on its field staff, Wolfe decided to apply.
“There are a lot of similarities, a lot of transferable skills from my old job that I could use in this job,” she says. “And my friends would say, ‘This sounds like you.’”
Wolfe recently celebrated her first anniversary as the GCSAA’s field staff representative for the Mid-Atlantic Region. The region she covers includes 17 GCSAA chapters. She discussed her responsibilities with Rick Woelfel on the Wonderful Women of Golf podcast.
“I always say that we’re the liaison between the members of the chapters and the national organization,” Wolfe says. “A little bit more hands-on, a little bit more of a connection. I think it’s really awesome to be able to get directly to our members to provide our programs and services and to show how they work.”
Wolfe, who is based in northeast Pennsylvania, notes the importance of connecting with the turf professionals she serves. “Sometimes, when you have a national organization, you don’t feel like you’re connected with them, because they’re not where you are,” she says. “Having field reps throughout country that connect directly with you and come to your events, you can actually see what the GCSAA is doing, and what it can provide for you as a member.”
A common thread exists in Wolfe’s conversations with superintendents and their teams. “We’re working with labor issues and cost,” she says. “Inflation is hitting the golf industry just like everything else.”
Wolfe is pleased to see superintendents taking time to introduce students to the opportunities available in the turf industry.
“We’re seeing our superintendents going out to schools to create mentorship and apprenticeship programs,” she says. “A lot of what you hear is, ‘I didn’t know golf had that many opportunities for careers.’ Or, ‘I didn’t know there were those opportunities to do golf as a career or be outside.’ I think we’re trying some unique ways to show the opportunities in golf and I think it’s great when we show what we do on the golf course with superintendents caring for the course.”
“It also expands into other spaces like working in the clubhouse, working on the food side working in the pro shop, or as a mechanic. We have a lot of great opportunities in golf and there are a lot of transferrable skills.”
The continued growth of the First Green program enthuses Wolfe.
“We’re hoping to have one field trip in all 50 states,” she says. “That’s our next goal. I think if you have the opportunity, to see it and experience it, you’re going to want to have it at your golf course. I was lucky enough to do a First Green in Maryland (in April) with Ryan Kraushofer of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter at Westminster Golf Club,” where Kraushofer is superintendent and general manager. “He’s Mr. First Green. He does a wonderful job.”
Wolfe particularly enjoys seeing the reaction of students who find themselves in a golf course environment for the first time.
“You see it with First Green,” she says. “They see the equipment and they look at it like, ‘That’s so cool.’ They’re just rolling the green back and forth. You would think it’s the coolest thing they’ve ever seen, and it may be. Their eyes light up. It’s really amazing.”
Wolfe gave up competitive golf for a time after leaving Penn State, but she has now competed in eight USGA championships. Before she assumed her present position, she has always had an appreciation for what turf professionals do and what they bring to the game.
“I love golf history,” she says. “I love golf courses. I’ve been lucky enough to play a significant amount of these golf courses. I know the hard work that they put in.”