- Golfer Benefits
NEW BEDFORD, Massachusetts — Those who embark on a tour at Titleist’s Ball Plant 3 just might find themselves on a tour with volunteer tour guide Patty Sands, a longtime member of the Titleist family who uses her experience in the sport to offer unique insight into how the No. 1 ball in golf is made.
After more than 30 years with Titleist and 48 as a competitive golfer, Sands has taken on a new challenge in the golf world: increasing knowledge of golf ball production and giving back to the company and sport she’s loved for so long.
Sands’ golf career practically started by mistake. When she was growing up in Keyser, West Virginia, her father meant to teach her brother how to play golf, but she was the one who picked it up instead. Though the West Virginia climate wasn’t always conducive to outdoor golf, Sands would travel to a course in nearby Cumberland, Maryland, to play and practice.
Eventually, her father suggested that if she continued improving, she could receive a golf scholarship and have her college education paid for. With that motivation in mind, Sands worked hard enough to become the 1979 Maryland Women’s Amateur Champion. That win led to a scholarship offer from the Louisiana State University women’s golf team, a newly formed program that would compete in its first season during Sands’ freshman year.
“We weren’t that good, but the goal was to pay for my college education, so we played golf,” she said jokingly. “During that time, it wasn’t about playing golf, so much. I actually started to get more intrigued with the golf industry at that point.”
Sands stepped back from competitive golf after graduation and took a position as an Assistant Golf Professional. In 1988, she was hired to work in customer service for Titleist, so she moved to Massachusetts to work at the Acushnet Company headquarters.
She later transitioned into a role in golf ball manufacturing, running the custom ball operation that adds logos to balls and managing golf ball production at Titleist’s Ball Plant 2.
“I got to know some of the greatest people in the golf industry in the best company in golf,” she said of her time as a full-time staff member at Titleist.
She decided to retire a few years ago to spend more time with family and out on the course, which opened the door for her to become a Mass Golf member. She has since participated in competitions for senior women golfers, and she has the Massachusetts Senior Women’s Amateur Championship and the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship on the list of events she would like to compete in.
However, her journey with Titleist wasn’t done yet. When the company decided to start giving ball plant tours in 2017, Sands was quick to return as a ball plant tour guide.
“I love Titleist,” Sands said. “I think the world of Titleist and not just because I worked there, I just believe in the product that they make and the honest and integrity of the company. And I said, “Sure, I’d love to give tours.'”
Sands gives up to two tours per day as a volunteer. She spends ample time before each tour trying to learn more about her tour group so she can personalize each expedition out onto the production floor as much as possible. Even though she’s given numerous tours, she still runs through her material beforehand each time and makes note of any information that would be relevant to a specific group.
“It’s all about knowing the stuff behind the words,” she said. “So that, should a question arise, or if you know that someone’s there who wasn’t even a golfer but they love manufacturing, you talk a little bit more about that, some of the parameters that we can talk about tech, how our golf ball is made.”
More than anything, Sands enjoys when she can teach a tour participant something new and invoke what she calls the “I-didn’t-know-that factor.”
“I like to talk about the history a little bit because when you can learn something that you never knew before, you can just take that and your mind just starts to go,” she said. “You can really expand on that. So the biggest thrill for me is when somebody learns something about the product and maybe the companies we have.”
A particularly memorable tour Sands has given was to Jessica Korda in March when the LPGA Tour Pro was in the area.
“I think of the Korda sisters as really terrific ambassadors for the game,” Sands said. “They’re trying to drum up people to play golf and not only was [the tour] evidence, but she was truly intrigued to learn about how her golf ball is made. I find that very interesting even at that level because they don’t have to show that kind of interest, but she did. Especially as a female golfer, I’m like, ‘I’m really proud that you’re an ambassador of the game because you’re showing the enthusiasm that people of all ages need to see, that golf is a sport anyone can play.'”
As a woman with more than three decades of experience in the golf industry, Sands also feels that expanding opportunities in the field for many different people can benefit the sport in the long run. She feels thankful to have worked for a company that is committed to improving the accessibility of the sport both on the course and on the operations side, noting that Titleist “adds a lot of value” by doing so.
Sands offered the following advice to women and girls who are interested in the golf industry: “There are so many more opportunities other than just playing golf and it’s just being able to find that niche where you can add value and fit into the organization.”
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