Susan Hite remembers vividly the moment it struck her that she was focused too much on her job and not enough on herself.
She had been stopped by a policeman at 2 a.m. for running a red light. The officer thought for sure she was a candidate for a DUI. Instead, he learned he pulled over a workaholic, not an alcoholic. That was some two decades ago when Hite was working in the marketing industry. Today, the principal, consultant and career coach at Hite Resources, she now helps people market themselves, not others.
"Anyone working at 2 a.m., that's just crazy," Hite said. "That was a turning point in my life."
Hite was the clean-up batter, closing out the recent Bayer Women in Golf event held in September in the Raleigh, North Carolina area.
After that fateful run in with the law, Hite immediately sought clarity in her professional life.
"I went to my boss the next day and asked 'Where do you need me to be great? And define what that is. Where do you need me to be good? And define that. And where do you need me to be just good enough?' she said.
"Surprisingly, his top five were not my top five."
To be truly successful in one's professional life and also enjoy a life outside work, Hite recommends creating a professional scorecard of where you have to be great, where you have to be good and where you can be just good enough. Knowing those things can help anyone, including a golf course superintendent, manage their time and resources more efficiently.
"Know where you have to be great. Know where you have to be good and know where you can just be good enough," she said. "Nobody wants to be associated with just being good enough, but some things you just don't have control over so sometimes some things just have to be good enough.
"Surrender doesn't mean giving up. It means doing the best you can with the resources you have and accepting that."
That scorecard will include things you have to do and also should include things you want to do.
"What do I enjoy doing that keeps me engaged? Just because something is not on a boss's list doesn't mean it can't be on mine," she said. "It has to include things I enjoy doing that keep me engaged, but maybe it can't include all of it.
"You have to have that talk and have your boss clarify that for you. And for the people who work for you, clarify it for them."
Hite asked attendees of the conference to fill out a survey of things that were important to them.
Anyone working at 2 a.m., that's just crazy," Hite said. "That was a turning point in my life.
To no surprise, many of the challenges cited by female superintendents are the same as those their male colleagues voice concerns about: labor, scheduling, training, weather, effective communications, club politics and managing work-life balance.
Where women and men differ boiled to the top immediately when Hite asked what the group would like to see in the golf industry in the future. Topping the list was training for men on how to work with women.
Beth Guertal, Ph.D., of Auburn University sees herself and others like her in a unique position to mentor female students early in the careers.
"I work so much in golf and my audience is pretty much the same, because almost all superintendents are male," she said.
"Women in this industry come from all different routes. In my role, I can mentor them from the beginning as they come through this classical route of going to turf school."
The event wasn't just focused on the differences between men and women in the golf business. Much of what Hite discussed focused on the common challenges men and women face as superintendents and what this group of 50 can do to meet and overcome obstacles, like growing the game.
"I think we've made some progress in helping grow the game, but I don't think there is an end-all campaign. It is an ongoing process and we have to weave that message into everything we do," said Kim Erusha, Ph.D., the recently retired USGA Green Section director. "We have to come up with other ways to talk about it. In an economic sense if we can put actual numbers to it we connect with community leaders in a business sense. Then we are talking on their level."
The group also recognized that the game needs new blood if it is going to thrive in the future.
"We have to change the perception of golf at the grassroots level," said Renee Geyer of Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. "It is still viewed as an elitist sport. We have to change the perception that 'it's not for me.' It is for you."