Turf & Rec

Carol Turner

A ‘Leading Woman in Turf’

Carol Turner

Although Carol Turner got her first taste of working in the golf industry almost 20 years ago, the journey that got her to where she is today could hardly be considered conventional. She first got her feet wet in golf as a 19-year-old, working on the grounds crew at Bigwin Island, but left the industry soon afterward to work as a landscaper and later a personal trainer.

A native of Huntsville in Ontario’s Muskoka region, Turner realized the personal training job necessitated a move to Toronto

“I always drove past this golf course every day and was really getting burned out from personal training,” she said, acknowledging her training duties often meant working split shifts and getting paid only when actively training someone.

Turner sought a return to golf – fueled by her daily drives past a golf course while commuting to her personal training job – and landed a labourer position at the Lambton Golf & Country Club which was closer to her Toronto residence. She also worked at other local courses, “and decided to take it more seriously,” figuring a career in golf was perhaps her destined calling.

She said her tenure at the Ladies’ Golf Club of Toronto, working under superintendent John McLinden, proved to be the springboard toward her higher ambitions in golf. During her four years at the Ladies’ club, she obtained her spray licence and became second assistant while also taking the turf managers’ short course at the University of Guelph.

Turner learned an assistant superintendent position had become available at Bigwin Island and applied for the job, knowing it also presented an opportunity for her to return to her hometown area. The club “took a chance” on her and offered her the position.

Two years into her new position in 2022 as Bigwin Island’s assistant superintendent, another chance to climb the ladder presented itself. Superintendent Kevin Schultz – who Turner credits for teaching her people management skills – opted to retire, but she figured the position might go to an outside hire.

“But they went with me,” she said. “I’ve had a very good two years – great staff, great location, wonderful membership.”

Turner said her career has included many highlights, including her participation in the Bayer Women in Golf program in 2019, landing the assistant superintendent position at Bigwin Island and subsequently graduating to her “dream job” of superintendent which was “beyond my dreams. I can’t imagine being somewhere better.”

There were challenges along the way, however. She noted there were several industry events she attended in the past where she was the only woman present, leaving her feeling ill at ease.

“It’s very intimidating, so that was definitely a challenge at first.”

Turner hopes to eventually become a board member of some industry associations and provide some diversity.

Women who think they can’t reach the same level of success may want to heed her advice: “There’s no reason why you can’t be a superintendent and do other things. You should always be growing and challenging yourself.”