Keystone Ranch golf superintendents work grounds at US Women’s Open
Summit County is represented at the U.S. Women’s Open Golf Championship at The Olympic Club in San Francisco this week as locals Ann Paulisich and Pam Brown are part of the crew prepping and maintaining the course for the four-day major championship that begins Thursday, June 3.
Brown and Paulisich are two of about 30 women who comprise a little less than half of the maintenance crew volunteers at the event. Paulisich and Brown, a retired superintendent for Keystone Ranch golf course, said the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and event tournament sponsors specifically brought in female golf course superintendents from across the nation to work the event in celebration of Tuesday’s National Women’s Golf Day.
“One lady said, ‘breaking the grass ceiling,’” Paulisich said. “That’s kind of what this is about.”
Paulisich, the current superintendent at Keystone Ranch, said the group’s work is part of a concerted effort to push that Ladies Professional Golf Association professionals can play on the same golf courses for majors as the men. The Olympic Club may be the first, but it’ll be far from the last, as Paulisich said the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course is another fabled site slated for an LPGA major.
“I think for the turf industry and these women that are here — whether they are superintendents, assistant superintendents or interns — this is like going to the Super Bowl,” Brown said. “It’s incredible for me to see these young women and their enthusiasm and passion, and it gives me hope for the future.”
Paulisich said she found out about the opportunity through a Syngenta agricultural company sales representative who was working on snow mold at Keystone Ranch, a common situation on snow-saturated golf courses above 9,000 feet. One thing led to another and Syngenta was bringing in Paulisich and Brown to work with other top female superintendents from such places as Auburn, Alabama, and Reno, Nevada.
For Paulisich, the opportunity is the latest in a golfing life dating back to picking up clubs for the first time at 3 years old in Stillwater, Minnesota. Back in Stillwater, Paulisich’s first job was on a local golf course before she played high school and college golf and before studying as a post graduate at Penn State University’s acclaimed turf schools. After achieving the two-year, post-graduate certificate, Paulisich worked her way up at the revered Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania, TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas and then a mountain course at Mount Hood in Oregon.
That all led up to Paulisich’s most recent stop at Keystone Ranch, where she met up with Brown. Brown’s backstory is not nearly as golf centric, as the longtime Keystone Resort employee transitioned into a golf superintendent role at Keystone Ranch after years at the resort beginning as a lift operator in 1987. In 2000, Brown took a break from her Keystone career to attend a two-year certificate program at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Paulisich and Brown’s superintendent tasks this week include mowing The Olympic Club’s fairways every morning, raking up tire tracks from the day prior, fixing divots and “fluffing” with leaf blowers the tall, dense “rough” grass.
“Fairways is really fun. I got the premier job,” Paulisich said with a laugh. “We got, like, five mowers, and you go out and follow your leader. You look like a snowcat going down a fairway. That’s pretty fun.”
Along with their superintendent tasks, Paulisich, Brown and the rest of the grounds crew have had the opportunity to meet female executives of the U.S. Golf Association and members of The Olympic Club committee who put the event together. The duo has also been able to take part in women’s leadership skills clinics and interact with and learn from the other female superintendents from across the country.
And what will they be up to when 156 of the world’s best women golfers take to the first tee Thursday? More long days helping to manicure the pristine course at the Super Bowl of women’s golfing.
“We have the same thing going on,” Brown said. “We’ll mow in the morning and have classes till noon, watch golf till 3 p.m., and the nights will get longer when we have to wait for the ladies to get off the golf course.”
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