January 27, 2023
John Deere launches Women in Turf program at PGA Cobram Barooga event
Crestmead, Queensland (27 January, 2023) – Six female greenkeepers from around the country are set to showcase their skills at the upcoming TPS Murray River golf tournament, to mark the launch of John Deere's Women in Turf program.
The women will work alongside staff at Cobram Barooga Golf Club to prepare the course for the February event, which features a mixed field of men and women competing for the same prize purse.
John Deere Production Systems Manager, Stephanie Gersekowski, said the program reflected John Deere's commitment to supporting women in turf and was an important initiative in continuing to develop Australia's prosperous greenskeeping sector.
"There’s only a very small number of female greenskeepers in Australia, so this initiative is about promoting the profession and creating pathways for them to progress in the industry," Ms Gersekowski said.
"We plan to send female greenskeepers to this event each year and use it as a blueprint for other tournaments in the future."
On top of working at one of Australia's leading golf tournaments, the greenskeepers will have the chance to operate new and industry-leading John Deere equipment.
Cobram Barooga Golf Club recently converted to a full fleet of John Deere machines supplied by local dealer LandHQ.
LandHQ Key Account Manager, Stephen Foster, said they considered the PGA event as a great opportunity to encourage more women to get involved across the sport.
"With the diversity of players in the tournament, it makes sense to incorporate more females into the Club staff as well," Mr Foster said.
"The Club Superintendent, Terry Vogel, is a big supporter of women in golf and his daughter is a promising young player, so he was very keen to be part of the Women in Turf program and support the greenskeepers to further their careers."
The six women will work in conjunction with six of Mr Vogel's staff throughout the week, preparing the course for the tournament which is part of the Webex Players Series – a joint PGA and WPGA event that runs from 2 to 5 February, 2023.
John Deere Women In Turf greenskeepers at TPS Murray River
Annabelle Southall – Canberra, ACT
The TPS Murray River will be the first major tournament experience for second-year apprentice greenskeeper, Annabelle Southall from Canberra.
"I'm super excited to see how a competition like this is set up, and also how another course operates," Ms Southall said.
"It will be great to meet some other females in the turf industry and learn from their experience."
Based at Royal Canberra Golf Club, Annabelle was originally working in landscaping when she saw an opportunity to work in golf.
"I love being outdoors and thought I'd really enjoy this role, so I went for it," she said.
"There's a lot of variety – you're doing different jobs every day using different types of machinery which is great. One of the big challenges is actually working around the golfers and trying not to get in their way!"
"Honestly I don't find it too challenging being a female greenskeeper. It's actually not that physically taxing, particularly as the machinery is getting easier to handle."
"Royal Canberra's been so supportive of me, and I'd really encourage any other girls who may be interested to give it a go. Don't be afraid!"
Brody Cooper – Secret Harbour, WA
The rolling fairways of Secret Harbour Golf Links south of Perth are a far cry from the retail environment in which Brody Cooper started her career, but since making the switch she's never looked back.
"Being outdoors in a more physical role is a lot more rewarding for me – there's no greater satisfaction than seeing a perfectly mowed fairway or green that you've prepared," Ms Cooper said.
"Going from a female-dominated industry to a male-dominated one definitely took some getting used to, but everyone at the club has been so accommodating."
Ms Cooper gained work experience at Secret Harbour while completing a Certificate II in Horticulture, before the club offered her a greenskeeping apprenticeship.
Now in her third year at the club, she has just completed a course in Sports Turf Management through TAFE – where she was nominated for Apprentice of the Year.
"I've spoken to a few women who are interested in greenskeeping but are a bit hesitant to actually get into it," she said.
"I think the machinery side of it can be scary for some, but like anything it just takes getting used to, then it's easy – particularly as the modern equipment is becoming more user-friendly."
Ms Cooper said she felts privileged to be given the opportunity to volunteer in Barooga, and is looking forward to meeting other female greenskeepers at the TPS Murray River.
"It'll be invaluable experience to see how a different course operates, particularly for a tournament of this standard," she said.
Kasey Williams – Busselton, WA
In just the second year of her apprenticeship, Kasey Williams can't believe she's been given the opportunity to learn from some of Australia's best at the TPS Murray River.
"I didn't expect to be chosen, to be honest, so I'm really excited! Most people in the second year of their apprenticeship don't get an opportunity like this," Ms Williams said.
"It's a prestigious tournament at a course double the size of what I'm used to, so it will be an awesome experience."
"I can't wait to learn from the other girls there who have more experience than me."
Ms Williams' interest was first piqued when Busselton Golf Club, southwest of Perth, posted an opportunity on Facebook to join their greenskeeping team.
"I was still at school at the time, but I just saw the post and thought I'd love the opportunity so I went for it," she said.
"It's an awesome club and I've fallen in love with greenskeeping. Being out in nature every day in a hands-on role is just awesome."
On top of her apprenticeship with the club, Ms Williams is also completing a Certificate III in Sports Turf Management through TAFE.
"It is a male-dominated profession, but it's improving over time," she said.
"I would say to any other girls who may be considering it to just give it a go. I've not found anything that I can't do as well as the guys."
Lilly Dahtler – Brisbane, Qld
Lilly Dahtler is as green to the world of golf as the course she will be helping to prepare.
The 21-year-old is primarily based at Stuartholme secondary school in Brisbane, working with landscaping company, Green Options.
"My apprenticeship was more in parks and gardens, which is my main focus around the school," Ms Dahtler said.
"As well as our playing field I've done some work on fields and cricket wickets around other schools in Brisbane, and I'm very excited to branch out more into turf."
"My team leader at Stuartholme is showing me the ropes of greenskeeping which I'm really enjoying. It's a satisfying job. I love being able to work in this environment every day."
Ms Dahtler said it was a little daunting when she first started her apprenticeship at 17, but these days she has well and truly found her feet.
"I was one of only three women at the company when I started but I'm now one of 15," she said.
"I just love seeing women in trades. They're typically more male-dominated but once you get in, you just build up the confidence to work around anybody."
"I can't wait to get down to Barooga and learn from the other girls, some of who have experience working in turf all around the world. I feel so lucky to be given this opportunity."
Martyna Synak – Sydney, NSW
Working on a golf course isn't all sunshine and rainbows, but Martyna Synak wouldn't have it any other way.
"When you're working with Mother Nature you often have to make decisions very quickly to react to unexpected weather changes," Ms Synak said.
"It can be hard work sometimes to solve issues on the go, but I love that challenging aspect of the job. No two days are the same."
In her senior position at The Lakes Golf Club in Sydney, Ms Synak draws on a wealth of experience working in different conditions around the world.
After roles in horticulture and landscaping in her home country of Poland, she completed a 12-month internship at Harbour Town Golf Links in South Carolina, USA.
That led to greenskeeping roles at courses around Sweden and New Zealand before she landed in Australia in 2015.
"The career prospects in Australia are great because golf is played all year round, whereas somewhere like Europe you only get a few months of good enough weather," she said.
"Of course it's typically been a male-dominated profession, but there's certainly more women coming onboard all the time which is great."
"Who wouldn't love working in nature with beautiful views like this? And sunrises are the most rewarding of all time!"
Penny Deehan – Sydney, NSW
Penny Deehan has seen plenty of change across her 15 years in the industry.
The Senior Greenskeeper at Oatlands Golf Club in Sydney said navigating a male-dominated field had become easier for women taking up the profession.
"There was nothing like the Women In Turf program around when I first started – there would've barely been six female greenskeepers in the country to choose from!" Ms Deehan said.
"I love seeing younger women coming through, and I'm excited to form a little support network and build that sense of community among women in greenskeeping."
"I think some women worry they won't be able to keep up with the physical work, or that they might have to change the way they talk or act to 'fit in' with the guys, but if you just stay true to yourself you can really excel."
Ms Deehan's love of golf started from a young age, playing regularly as a junior at her local course and setting her on the path to greenskeeping.
After mainting turf at multiple courses around Sydney, Ms Deehan completed the Ohio State Program in South Carolina, USA – the same one taken by Ms Synak. She then completed a course in Golf Management with the PGA International Golf Institute and worked in Scotland for 10 months before she eventually settled at Oaklands.
As an honorary member at the Club, she's able to assess her handiwork from the perspective of a player.
"I just love seeing a well-presented course, and navigating it as a player really gives you a different perspective," Ms Deehan said.
"I'm looking forward to the challenge of greenskeeping at a big tournament like Barooga. I like the pressure to perform."
About John Deere:
Deere & Company is a global leader in the delivery of agricultural, golf & turf, construction, and forestry equipment. We help our customers push the boundaries of what's possible in ways that are more productive and sustainable to help life leap forward. Our technology-enabled products including the John Deere Autonomous 8R Tractor and See & Spray™ are just two of the ways we help meet the world's increasing need for food, shelter, and infrastructure. Deere & Company also provides financial services through John Deere Financial. For more information, visit John Deere at its worldwide website at JohnDeere.com or in Australia at JohnDeere.com.au.