Of the more than 1,000 certified golf course superintendents in the United States, only 25 of them are women. If Miami Springs Golf and Country Club course superintendent Sandy Pell has her way, soon there will be 26.
Six months ago, Pell embarked on a challenging journey when she contacted the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America about the steps it would involve to get herself officially certified as a course superintendent. Since then, it’s been a lot of paper work and preparing portfolios. The final step in front of her is the written exam.
“I’m still waiting for a date, but I know it will be coming up soon,” said Pell, who is now in her 12th year of taking care of the fairways and greens at the course. “I have to be honest and tell you that it was much tougher than I ever thought it would be. Between filling out the paper work and putting a portfolio together, it’s been quite a challenge.”
It was a challenge Pell felt was worthwhile.
“Hey I’m about to turn 56, have been doing this for 29 years and figured I’d go a little crazy in my old age,” Pell said with a chuckle. “It’s something I had been thinking about for awhile and then when I discovered there were only 25 other females in the country with the designation, that was the tipping point to go for it.
“I also thought it would be a nice title to have because you never know where you stand when you do what I do. One day everybody loves you and the next day the whole town is after you for something that goes wrong on the course.”
Pell said that the process from start to finish was quite involved.
“They give you a series of about 30 different topic options you can select when it came to portfolios and I figured I would try something different and went for media relations,” said Pell. “There was the usual subjects from financing to turf to water quality on the environment, but I figured I would try something a little different and, boy, was it ever different.”
Pell said that she had to learn the ins and outs of dealing with the media, including preparing press releases.
“Challenging but enjoyable at the same time,” said Pell. “It’s been a great deal of extra work because, remember, you can’t take any time off from your regular job, you still have to perform those duties as well. But if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t hesitate. This has been a very enjoyable experience for me.”
Pell said that when she took the job in Miami Springs 11 years ago, it was, in her mind only supposed to be a temporary thing.
“So much for a pit stop; I guess I’m on the 12-year plan,” she said, laughing. “Even though sometimes it can be a little frustrating because of the criticism you have to deal with — and I understand that it’s a struggle monetarily for the town — but I wouldn’t trade the experience I’ve had working in Miami Springs for anything. Every morning I wake up I can’t wait to come to work and that’s something a lot of people can’t always say when it comes to their jobs.”