b'WASHINGTON GOLFHeather Schapals workingthe grounds at Chambers Bay BY STEVE WAXMANT hough Heather Schapals is relatively new to Chambers Bayshe started in her role as senior assistant superintendent in the late springshes hardly new to the business. However, thats not to say she grew up around the game. Born and raised in Racine, Wis., Heather had never stepped onto a golf course before showing up as a 17-year-old at Meadowbrook Country Club. I always wanted to work outside, she remembers. My mom took me to the local job center and the women there said the local country club was always looking for summer help.As Heather contemplated a future working in the turf side of golf, other voices worked to dissuade her, citing the lack of women in the industry. Indeed, the theme of how few women have historically worked on golf course grounds crews comes up time and again. Gwen Stahnke was a trailblazer for women in the turf industry when she became the assistant superintendent atAssociation of America is comprised of women, but the the Medinah Country Club outside of Chicago in 1977.industry is trying its best to change that. Formerly a professor in soil sciences at WashingtonStahnke agrees that mentoring and initiatives such as State University who now works at Walla Walla College,those undertaken by Flanagan, as well as events like the Stahnke recalls some of the challenges women had toLadies Leading Turf: Mentoring Women seminar at the endure at the time. People see you and they assume that2022 GCSAA Conference and Trade Show in San Diego, help youre somebodys wife, she says. Youd show up for anwomen support one another and grow into leadership roles. interview and theyd talk to your husband, even thoughYoure seeing far more females getting notoriety in public he knew nothing about the business. There are still someand on TV than you ever saw before, she says. assumptions, but its not nearly as prevalent as it used to be. And thats the goal: bringing more people into the game, Renee Mitchell was the first female greenskeeper atwhether thats playing in championships, heading to the first Chambers Bay, and worked on the crew during the 2010 U.S.tee as a public player year-round, or helping maintain the Amateur and the 2015 U.S. Open, both held at Chambersgreat facility that is Chambers Bay. Pioneering women have Bay. At the time, she was the only woman on the turf crew.advanced the standard in turf maintenance, allowing the While the number of women working as superintendentssport to flourish and attract more women to this vital part of in the industry has increased over the years, studiesthe game. show that there is still a long way to go. Only two percent(This article was first published in Chambers BayThe of the membership of the Golf Course SuperintendentsJournal, and is used here by permission.)14WASHINGTON GOLF| SEPT 2022'