Leadership / 03.22.23
Women Ticketing Professionals Make the Cut in Pro Golf
Golfing has become as much a woman’s game as a man’s game, especially on the professional level. So, it’s no surprise that women occupy some of the most important jobs in the sport. Nowhere is this more evident than in ticketing.
Just ask Nicole Fred, Senior Manager of Ticketing Support for the PGA TOUR. She is a big advocate of gender diversity at the highest ranks of her chosen sport. She says, “The PGA TOUR, like other professional sports leagues, has benefitted from the increased number of women pursuing education and internships in the field. While there still seems to be a gap in the number of women in traditionally male-held roles, that gap is rapidly decreasing.”
She applauds the PGA TOUR for its active encouragement of employees joining Employee Resource Groups, specifically the Advancing Women in Leadership group that provides dialogue and resources around both career goals and challenges that many successful women face. “Topics such as work-life balance, support in childcare — those issues had never really been given a voice,” she says. “It’s undeniable that organizations like the TOUR that recognize and emphasize the value of providing these resources are leading the way for women in professional sports.”
Madison Gollehur, Tournament Marketing Manager for Invited Clubs, agrees: “The teams I work with on professional golf events are filled with many female managers and executives. I have been very impressed how a generation of just a few female leaders in the golf industry have worked hard to seek out qualified female candidates to join their teams. This support among women is really what is growing the industry.” Invited is the largest owner and operator of private clubs. Its portfolio includes over 200 golf and country clubs, city clubs and stadium clubs in 30 states, the nation’s capital and two foreign nations.
Also having risen through the ranks is Amanda Weiner, Managing Director of Digital Media and Ticketing for the United States Golf Association (USGA). While she is heartened that diversity has indeed improved in the offices and corridors of professional golf, she acknowledges there is still a way to go.
“From a recruitment standpoint, we have some work to do as we still see more males than females apply to jobs in the golf industry,” she says. “With that, it’s critical that we elevate strong female talent from within our own walls first, as this sends the signal that hiring and retaining diverse voices is indeed a priority.”
For those who have made it and are beacons of success, the rewards have been many. Gollehur says the favorite part of her job is watching the PGA TOUR Champions professionals enjoy the benefits of their lifetime of hard work. “They have spent years on the PGA TOUR, and now they get to enjoy a more relaxed, yet competitive, environment on the Champions tour,” she says. “Every player really shows their gratitude to the team who hosts these events.”
For Fred, it’s the people who attend the various golf tournaments that keeps her engaged. “Connecting with fans is by far my favorite part of my job!” she says. “Most of us don’t go to college to become ticketing professionals. We ‘fall into it’ or it lands in our laps. But it’s the connection to the fans that drives us day in and day out. When we are able assist a fan with their ticket and provide a great guest experience, then ultimately we are helping provide a connection to the game of golf and for fans to see their favorite golfers. Being in ticketing means being on the front lines of the fan experience.”
All three interviewees credited mentors and colleagues along the way who helped them in their drive for career advancement. Weiner says, “Early in my career, an executive told me to always speak my mind … even when I think I shouldn’t. Communicating your position clearly and confidently is an important skill and one that most successful leaders have honed.”
Fred keeps several rules of thumb in mind, chiefly: “Ask for what you need. Asking for help does not make you weak, [and] it is not evidence that you cannot handle the job. It’s a sign of strength and maturity to know what you need to get it done. Burnout is a real thing. The mental, emotional and physical repercussions are real. So, ask for what you need and be specific.”
Gollehur was charmingly bashful when answering this question. “I am still very early in my career, and my mentors pass along advice to me daily,” she says. “One very specific piece of advice that I try to remember is that I am in my position for a reason, and I am capable of making the tough decisions that benefit the event.”
And all three are eager to impart lessons they’ve learned on the job to the next generation. Fred’s top tip added a dash of cold reality, though: “Grind it out. There will be long hours and missed holidays. But there will also be some pretty amazing moments that you can only witness in live sports.
Weiner’s message to young ticketing pros is the same one she has for her own children as they go about their daily lives. “Just be kind,” she says. “It’s as simple as that. Kindness in the workplace should not be mistaken for weakness.”
And while Gollehur is perhaps the newest to the profession of the three interviewees, she spoke like a veteran decision-maker when replying: “I would advise any young women who are new to the business to never stop asking questions. If there is anything you do not understand, I guarantee you there is a more senior team member who is happy to explain it. One-hundred percent of the time I am thankful I asked a question, because it gives me a better understanding of the very complicated processes and systems.”
Finally, all three urged their younger counterparts to never forget the strides made by the women who came before them. Perhaps Fred summed it up best: “When I was attending college, it never crossed my mind that sports management was an option for me. Today, that has changed dramatically. With more women in sports management programs, we see more and more women accessing and accepting internships in professional sports. This is key to attracting women to the industry, and it all starts with education and the mindset of today’s youth that careers are not associated with gender.”
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Tags: Leadership , Women in Golf