Amanda Fontaine, IGM’s golf course superintendent at The Ledges in Massachusetts, recently returned from a 10-day tour on the grounds crew for the U.S. Women’s Open in Pebble Beach, CA, the top-rated golf course in the country. She said it was “an awesome experience, but also hard, 10-hour days of day and night work on the course. It was no vacation.”

As one of more than 30 women industry professionals who were invited to join the crew, Amanda’s assignment was maintaining the front nine tees. “Pebble Beach is an amazing course, and we were able to deliver a quality product for the tournament.”

When first approached about volunteering for the tournament, she welcomed the challenge but turned to her leadership with IGM and The Ledges management to see if it would be possible to be away.

“There was no hesitation. There was never a question of ‘if’ but ‘how do we make it happen’. My crew was supportive, and they did a great job while I was gone.”

IGM Vice-President of Operations Steve Gano said “We knew it was an incredible opportunity for Amanda, and ultimately, for IGM. We’re proud of her work at The Ledges, as well as of the impact she’s having by bringing more attention to opportunities for women in the golf course maintenance industry.”

Even more than the physical labor on the golf course, Amanda said the experience provided great professional development, networking, and outreach programs. Programs dealt with trends such as environmentalism and recruiting, both of which are high priorities for IGM.

At the outset, she didn’t know the other women volunteering on the crew, but she appreciated getting to know them and becoming good friends. “One of the cool things was getting the perspectives of the more experienced professionals. Not one woman in the room started her career in the turf industry but they found their way there,” she noted. “It’s neat to have other women I can reach out to now, who have the same kind of experiences I do. The men in the industry are great, but women relate to each other differently.” Amanda is also a member of the professional Women in Turfgrass Management group, but few other members are from the northeast to connect with.

Amanda, who started her own career as a hockey coach before working her way up the golf course maintenance ladder, says that’s one of the things she wants to impart to young girls or others who like working outside: that “it can be a sustainable career path. And it’s not too late to find your way there.”

My advice to aspiring golf course superintendents would be “to keep your head down, work hard, and connect with others whenever opportunities arise. Use social media to connect. I had followed some of these women on Twitter, and that’s how I was invited to volunteer.”

Back home at The Ledges, her focus is on preparing the course for upcoming tournaments, as well as dealing with the extreme weather issues. “We’re getting smoke from the Canadian wildfires, heavy rains and flooding, humidity, and 20 mph winds.”

However, Amanda is also finding herself inundated with interview requests and speaking opportunities. She’s been invited to speak at several vocational schools in their horticulture and landscaping programs, and she enjoys the opportunity to give back to the community. She shared that the more experienced professionals she met said, “we’re breaking the grass ceiling, and we’re holding the ladder for others, the younger generation.”

Gano noted that IGM would welcome more women who have agronomic knowledge, desire to work outdoors, and a strong work ethic to their ranks. A variety of positions are available. Visit the IGM Career Center for more information.

IGM provides complete golf course maintenance and management services in markets across the U.S. The company is committed to agronomic excellence and environmentally conscious methods and products. To request a consult, please contact Greg Plotner, Executive Vice President, 407-589-7200. Additional information may be obtained by visiting IGM’s website at golfmaintenance.com.