The six female greenskeepers who volunteered at the TPS Murray River tournament to launch the John Deere Women in Turf program (left to right): Martyna Synak, Annabelle Southall, Penny Deehan, Kasey Williams, Brody Cooper, Lilly Dahtler.
THE growing role of females in turf industries was celebrated last week with the successful launch of John Deere’s Women in Turf program at the TPS Murray River golf tournament at Cobram Barooga Golf Club.
As part of the program, six talented female greenskeepers from across the country volunteered at the event, and worked alongside club staff to prepare the course for the PGA tournament, which featured a mixed field of men and women competing for the same prize purse.
Cobram Barooga Superintendent, Terry Vogel, said the volunteers made a big impact on and off the course.
“They’ve done a fantastic job – the way they’ve just come in and picked everything up so quickly has made the tournament run a lot smoother,” Mr Vogel said.
“I’ve worked here for 38 years, and no female has ever applied for a greenskeeping job, so it’s been really refreshing to have the volunteers helping out this week.
“It’s the first time working alongside other women for most of the volunteers too, so it hasn’t always been an easy ride in a male dominated industry, but they’ve mixed in so well with our staff here.
“Penny (Deehan) said it was the most welcoming greenskeeping shed she’s worked in.”
“I told her if she was to apply here tomorrow I’d hire her in a heartbeat. Her and all the volunteers have just brought such a great attitude along with their professional abilities.”
Ms Deehan has seen plenty of change across her 15 years in the industry, and said the Women in Turf Program will help keep it moving in the right direction.
“I love that John Deere is showcasing female greenskeepers, because it is still a male dominated industry but we’re making strong steps to encourage more women to join,” the Senior Greenskeeper at Oatlands Golf Club in Sydney said.
“Having the six of us together this week has helped build a support network for the future and share our experiences.
“I’m really impressed with the younger girls in the program. They’ve got great attitudes, are very well spoken and really want to learn. I don’t remember being like that at such a young age!
“The club has been so supportive as well. They’re a lovely group of guys, and are doing an awesome job with this course.”
Cobram Barooga Golf Club recently converted to a full fleet of John Deere machines supplied by local dealer LandHQ.
Mr Vogel said the Women in Turf Program was a key part of the partnership the club formed with the dealership.
“I must admit I was a little apprehensive when Steve from Land HQ first proposed the idea, just because it’s stressful enough running a tournament as it is without six new staff who haven’t seen the venue before,” he said.
“Also coming from a male dominated industry I wasn’t sure how everyone would react given it’s such a unique program.
“But he assured me it would be fine, and sure enough they’ve been great and made everything so much easier.
“The rapport they’ve built with the staff in such a short time is fantastic. I couldn’t have asked for more.”
Along with Ms Deehan, Martyna Synak from Sydney, Annabelle Southall from Canberra, Lilly Dahtler from Brisbane, Kasey Williams from Busselton Western Australia, and Brody Cooper from Secret Harbour Western Australia showcased their skills as part of the program.
For Ms Cooper, travelling to the tournament was her first time flying without family.
“I’d only run into Kasey once before, but she reached out and suggested we meet up at the airport in Perth which made it a lot easier for me,” said the third year apprentice.
“It was a big trip, and the time difference took a bit of adjusting to but after a day or two I found my bearings.
“Cobram Barooga is a different style to the links course I work at back home, and some of the John Deere equipment was new for me as well, but it was really easy to learn.
“Everyone at the club has been so inviting and approachable, and I’ve loved being around the other girls. Normally being the only girl is a little intimidating, so it’s been nice sharing the experience with them and getting to know them off the course too.
“This is a bigger tournament than I’m used to, so it’s been interesting to see how an event of this scale is prepared, and also to get experience working in a larger team.
“I think it’s important to get more women into the industry. The Women in Turf Program will certainly help that.”
John Deere Golf & Commercial Mowing Manager, Kodi Becket, said the program had been eye-opening for all involved.
“It’s been valuable to hear from the volunteers some of the challenges they’ve had to face,” Mr Becket said.
“The Women in Turf program is about highlighting the fact that there aren’t a lot of women working in greenskeeping, and attempting to create an easy pathway for them into the industry.
“This tournament and initiative has laid the platform for us to go even further in how we encourage and support women to bring their unique skills to greenskeeping and the turf industry.
“Growing diversity is a priority of John Deere, and this program is part of our commitment to that.”
Read more about the John Deere Women in Turf Volunteers, here.