In an industry where female course superintendents can be counted on one hand in Australia it is fitting that Sea View’s Brittney Goldsworthy has trodden a path less likely.
From a sports-loving girl in southern Indiana to overseeing one of the most picturesque golf courses in Australia, Goldsworthy’s career trajectory is as meritorious as it is unlikely as she has defied the odds to satisfy her passion for the game of golf.
Sea View has been the beneficiary of Goldsworthy’s roll-up-your-sleeves attitude, with the course in spectacular condition since she took charge, and she revealed what it has taken to get where she is today when she spoke the the ‘Inside the Ropes’ podcast this week (from 1:10:36 above).
From 18 hours days at one of the most respected golf courses in the United States, to beating down stereotypes, and meeting her future husband in Australia, Goldsworthy’s story is a lesson in perseverance and following your heart to reach your goals.
She took time out to write down her ‘Walk Down Career Lane’ for GolfWA below before speaking to Andy Maher and the ‘Inside The Ropes’ team about everything from breaking through glass ceilings, course maintenance and just whether she and her husband have the best-kept garden in her suburb.
‘WALK DOWN CAREER LANE’
Volcanologist, engineer, pilot, and maths teaching; all exciting and well-paid careers, but my passion was in the turf industry. Like most young people, I dreamed big and had big ambitions, but always ended back where I started working on a golf course.
Raised in a small town in southern Indiana in the United States and with a nine-hole golf course not even a mile from my house my passion began at the age of ten. With not much to do, while most of my friends were out getting into trouble, I was at the golf course volunteering to do whatever I could to help. I just loved the atmosphere and the opportunity to do something new and different at any given moment.
From picking up golf balls to assisting group golf lessons, to occasionally helping the superintendent, I just couldn’t get enough. Even so, I was still like any other kid and played nearly every sport available to me, but life changed when I had a basketball coach with enough integrity to sit me down and simply say: “Look, basketball is just not your thing, you would excel in golf and it would be wise you start playing.”
I finished the season with this coach and began playing golf. This is where the real journey began.
I continued my volunteering and eventual employment with Cozy Acres Golf Complex. With the help and continual support from Dale Crafton, I became quite a good golfer and quite a good swing instructor.
I had also learned how to repair golf clubs. I also have always had a very active mind and even with all the new opportunities, it still wasn’t enough. This is when I convinced Gene and Sarah Green I needed a job and they needed a hand at Clifty Golf Range. So, began a long-lasting mentorship and relationship.
While working with the Green’s and learning not only the driving range business and how to operate farming equipment, but also about life in general, I continued my volunteering at Cozy Acres until I went to university.
This was quite a decision as I to this day absolutely hate studying. School was just not for me, but I knew it was something I had to do.
I spent my Freshman year at Tri-State University, a small private university in Northern Indiana, studying Golf Management. It didn’t take long to realise this was not going to be for me so I approached my advisor about minoring in Turfgrass Management. I was informed the program had been dropped due to low enrolment numbers. This began my search for other universities offering Turfgrass Management.
Due to my scholarship, I had to stay in Indiana which drastically limited my choices on turf programs. I eventually settled on Purdue University where I spent my last three years of university studying Agronomy and majoring in Turfgrass Management under the likes of Doctors Zac Reicher, Cale Bigelow, and Aaron Patton.
It was here my eyes were opened to the wide world of turf and the networking opportunities as during the school holiday period we were expected to take on an internship.
Due to my being from a small town and a very shy, unconfident person I went back to my hometown for my first internship despite my advisors very strong disapproval. I thought the superintendent back home would seriously take the time to teach me the ends and outs of Turf Management. I was quite wrong.
He had just been put in charge of the nine-hole golf course as well as managing the current 18-hole course. He asked if I would be interested in managing the nine-hole course for the summer. Despite having absolutely no idea what I was doing, I agreed thinking he would be around occasionally to guide me. Again, I was wrong. I was thrown in the fire and I would either sink or swim on my own.
Despite learning absolutely everything the hard way, I did find out who I was as a person and discovered I had a very strong work ethic. I also made the decision I wasn’t going to sit on the sidelines anymore.
I was going to decide what I wanted out of life and actively pursue it. So, when I returned to Purdue for the fall semester I explained to my advisor I had always despised studying and it simply wasn’t for me. That I wanted to be done as soon as possible, have a better internship the following summer, and go to Australia for an internship before I had finished my degree.
My advisor assisted me in forming a plan forward. This plan included an excessive study load of 23 to 25 credit hours per semester (the normal is 15 to 16) and doubling up on selected courses. It also saw my advisor landing me an internship for the summer at Baltusrol Golf Club with Mark Kuhns and being set and ready to go to Australia to work at both Royal Perth Golf Club and Wembley Golf Complex upon departing Baltusrol.
It was at Baltusrol where I had finally found my feet. They had quite a program on a top-50 rated golf course. The superintendent whom I worked under really pushed me hard and brought out the best of me despite my knowing. He also made me more confident in myself and taught me I really did know a thing or two despite always doubting myself.
It was here I discovered the Country Club of Little Rock would be doing a greens reconstruction the following summer and asked Mr Kuhns to assist me in obtaining an internship there with Keith Ihms when I returned from Australia.
With only four months of university left to finish and the road to the end already paved, I departed Baltusrol and embarked on my ‘Journey to Australia’. Upon arriving, I realised what it really meant to be on your own and only having yourself to rely on as I knew absolutely no one and hardly had a place to stay. Golf course maintenance practices although much the same are also very different which also took some getting used to.
It was here in Australia that I really came out of my little shell and started communicating with people. Although still by no means the best communicator in the world I could now at least hold a constructive conversation. Seeing Turfgrass Maintenance from another part of the worlds perspective really solidified my love and passion for the industry.
I honestly thought I would go back home, finish university, and continue upon my way wherever that maybe. Once again, I was very wrong as while I was in Australia I met my partner who became my husband in 2011. Due to this unexpected relationship, I returned home to Indiana, finished university, took a road trip across the States with my partner, and then returned to Australia where I have been since.
I began my career in Australia at Lake Karrinyup Country Club under Trevor Strachan. I spent nearly four years at Lake Karrinyup and served as spray technician for the vast majority of those years. I learned a lot while at Karrinyup, but had bigger ambitions in becoming a superintendent myself.
I applied for assistant superintendent positions for two years straight and began feeling disappointed and stuck where I was as I would continually be told after an interview that I was the best candidate and had the best interview, but I could not work there. This was very depressing and I started to lose my way, but also realised I needed to get back into my other passion of martial arts to restore balance to my life.
Upon again entering the martial arts scene, things started coming together for me as I was offered the Assistant Superintendent positon at Peninsula Golf Course. The change was great and I was enjoying getting my feet wet in a senior supervisory role, but it was short lived as I was offered the position as course superintendent at Sea View Golf Club after only nine weeks. I accepted the position and have now been here for two-and-a-half years.
Although I’ve had a tough road in getting to where I’m at, I wouldn’t change a thing. Breaking into a tough industry in a foreign country proved to me what exactly is possible. It also reiterated the fact that although mentors often come and go and relationships can be either short or long lived, each interaction should be greatly cherished as something is always learned whether good or bad.
These interactions also allow us to take behaviours that work along with us and leave the ones that don’t. It also brings home the point that no one gets to where they are on their own, we all have helpers along the way no matter how big or small the influence and we should truly appreciate and never forget one as these are the people who have helped shape us into the person we have become today.
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