Planting The Seed: LA City Golf
The City of Los Angeles is making strides and presenting opportunity in a career field originally untouched by women.
Four of the seven Los Angeles city golf superintendents are women.
That’s all I needed to hear, and I was ready to learn more. When I spoke with Laura Bauernfeind, golf manager at City of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation to plan an interview, she didn’t hesitate despite her busy schedule, “Are you free this afternoon? I want to be the one to talk to you about this. It’s important.”
From the minute we spoke, I knew she and I had a common goal: tearing down the very present gender barrier within the golf industry. A barrier invisible to Laura from when she started as a part-time greenskeeper in college, to now as golf manager, the idea of women being at a disadvantage was not on her mind.
“[The] superintendent is responsible for the setup, care and everything related to course conditions,” Laura said. “Our goal here in LA is to strive for excellent course conditions across the entire golf system. That is not a man versus women expectation.”
Laura has attended many conferences within the superintendent industry. Nine times out of ten, she is the only woman in the room. However, here in the Los Angeles sector, that’s beginning to change.
“The city has been so proactive about mentoring women and leveling the playing field,” Bauernfeind said. “It helps to have someone to aspire to, having a woman in a higher position to look up to, such as myself.”
Laura, along with these four superintendents, Marina Gutierrez (Sepulveda Golf Complex), Virginia Micka (Rancho Park GC), Kristina Osier (Woodley Lakes) and Germinia Duenas (Penmar GC), have worked their way up the ladder because they were the best candidates for the job. LA City has been mentoring women, offering an environment with no glass ceiling and proving that there are opportunities not just for men in this industry.
“It’s been a very supportive environment – [women] here are encouraged,” said Bauernfeind. “They aren’t treated any differently than their male colleagues.”
The problem seems to stem from lack of awareness, not the physical or intellectual inability for women to be successful. As Laura describes it, “it’s an unknown” that having a career as superintendent is an option.
“For whatever reason, this is not really on a woman’s radar – pursuing agronomy or turf management,” she said. “We need to do a better job showcasing all the different avenues in this industry.”
So where do we go from here? How do we keep the train moving? Laura shared her thoughts about the junior sector, where they could introduce greenskeeping to kids already involved in the game. She suggested a “Meet the Superintendent” day, where kids could have an opportunity to see the machines used to take care of the golf course, see how a cup is cut or even how tee boxes are rotated.
“[To] expose them at that level – you’re already excited because you’re playing it… this could plant a seed, and this could be something they would pursue as they continue going to school.”