- Golfer Benefits
PEBBLE BEACH, California – A major championship is set for July 6th-9th at the No. 1 ranked public golf course in the country. Pebble Beach will host a women’s major for the first time, as it welcomes the 78th U.S. Women’s Open, one of the most storied championships in women’s golf. Alongside this groundbreaking event is a grounds-keeping team of women set to join the resort’s crew to help ready the course for the championship.
One of Massachusetts’ own, Amanda Fontaine, Superintendent of Ledges Golf Club, will be joining the crew at Pebble Beach as one of the 33 women who have earned the opportunity to work on the grounds of the historic venue.
Leading up to the U.S. Women’s Open, we conducted a Q & A with Amanda about her experience working a national championship at a world class venue.
Q: How did this opportunity come about for you?
A: “I got a DM on Twitter from one of the women who organizes the turf team, she asked me if I would be open to volunteering on the team at Pebble Beach. From there, she gave me a call and said she was following along on Twitter, obviously there aren’t a lot of women in the GCSAA (Golf Course Superintendents Association of America). I then had to go through our management company and make sure there would be people here who covered everything that I do on a daily basis and oversee the crew while I was gone. They have been really supportive through it all, from the chemical company, to the general manager, they’re even sending out another superintendent. [The opportunity] is only going to make me better, the company better, our golf course better.”
Q: What does the significance of working on a major championship at an iconic golf course mean to you?
A: “It’s just the icing on the cake. I’ve hosted a couple tournaments, nothing of this caliber. It will be cool to see the biggest stage for women’s golf, something that we can strive for here, there’s lots of learning experiences too, not only on the golf course, but getting to know other women in the industry. There’s 13 who volunteered for majors before, I know last year at Pine Needles it was all female volunteers, a bunch of women are coming back from that. Six total superintendents, there’s a bunch of students that are going to be attending too. Everyone else is a student intern or assistant superintendent.”
Q: What kind of preparation has the crew at Pebble Beach set up for you?
A:“From my understanding, they’ll be taking people in leadership roles as group leaders, a bunkers group, a greens group, a rough group, and asking them to take a supervisory role to help direct and give the correct vision the course is going for. In the in-between time, there’s different educational aspects. There’s lots of learning opportunities while golf is being played – classes and courses I signed up for to be able to learn while the USGA, GSCAA, Rain Bird irrigation, Syngenta present on the biggest topics. On sustainability, Bubba Wright [Pebble Beach Superintendent] will put out a bunch on sustainability.”
Q: Is Pebble Beach considering your areas of expertise on this?
A: We’re going to be doing different classes and there’s one part where students from around the area are going to come and partake in a rotational learning experience through first-green (educational section) – I was asked to present on the importance of water conservation since one of our big things is our course is on a wet lands. Water conservation is big, we have to do it to a T because we are on such a conservative area, everything we do is to be environmentally sensitive. From cultural practices to pesticides.”
Q: How will this experience give you the confidence to continue to be a trailblazer in the industry?
A: “I’ve been doing lots of research on the course, the history itself, how iconic the different holes are. I’m going in with an open mind to take it all in. We are there to work first of all, and then we will be able to enjoy it and take it all in. I definitely think when it’s all said and done you can take it in. I get in the zone when doing work, it will be nice to turn around and see what we accomplished”
“It’s also a big commonality that as hard as they [male superintendents] work, we have to work twice as hard to be looked upon, even though your work production is twice as much. Having some common ground with other women of understanding what I go through daily makes it more lighthearted. I hope I can learn some things – coming together for a common goal – it will be a bunch of different things to learn and try things a different way when coming back. Or solidify the fact that what I’m doing is working. I’m taking it as a learning experience, keep doing what I’m doing, bring it back and using it as motivation, and make everything here as good as it can be and strive for more.”
Be sure to tune in to this year’s U.S. Women’s Open to see the wonderful conditions that Amanda Fontaine is helping to maintain, as she serves as an outstanding representative of Massachusetts golf on the national stage.
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