Life as a Local: Teeing up for a career on the course

Patricia Sloan with boyfriend Sam Patterson and their dog Finnley. Photo supplied

The golf industry can be difficult and male dominated, but in Sun Peaks Patricia Sloan is proving she has what it takes to excel.

Sloan grew up working for her dad, a superintendent on a golf course in King City, Ont. From the age of 14 she helped maintain the course.

Since then she has travelled, living in Whistler, B.C., for two years and Australia for six months but has found her way back to her roots.

“I got a job without ever having been here,” she said.

When she was hired as lead hand last year she and her boyfriend, Sam Patterson, packed their bags and moved back to the mountains.

Sloan said they’ve loved living in the community and the small town vibes.

“Being a local to me is a sense of belonging. I’ve lived in lots of other places but there is something about sun peaks that allows me to feel at home and connected to the people who live here.”

She’s also loved jumping into her role on the golf course. This year she became assistant superintendent in training. The job varies each day but she trains new staff, oversees a group of staff, works hard on the course and works alongside superintendent Keith Lyall to assign tasks.

Her role also involves a strong mentor-mentee relationship with Lyall.

“I do a lot of one-on-one training with Keith…it’s pretty great. Sometimes it (the industry) is really competitive and people don’t want to take you under their wing and train you because they feel threatened.

“He’s been a great mentor. I think being in Sun Peaks specifically has been great because I was able to move up into a position fairly quickly…if I were at another golf course I don’t know if I’d have the same opportunities.”
In February Sloan travelled to San Diego, Calif. for the Golf Course Superintendent Association of America conference where she was asked to speak on a panel about women in turf.

“It was my first time doing anything like that so it was nerve wracking, but I’m really glad I did it,” she said. “It was a really great experience, especially to meet the other girls.”

During the panel she and three other women spoke about their experiences working in the industry and challenges they face because of their gender.

Sloan works on a golf course at the age of 14. Photo supplied

“Being taken seriously as a woman in the industry can be hard…you might tell an employee to do something and then they go and ask someone else (a man) if you’re right.

“Or golfers might go directly to the male employees when I’m right there. For me personally I’ve always had bigger problems with golfers interacting with me (than other workers).”

Despite those challenges Sloan has big plans for her career. In fact she likes the industry because it forces her to challenge herself.

This summer she will enroll in Thompson Rivers University’s 35 week horticulture program before going on to specialize in turf management at another school.

“I just love being outside and I love that everyday is different and just generally love people who work on golf courses,” she said. “Eventually I’d like to be a superintendent somewhere…I do love it and that’s why I want to do it.”

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