Nichole Parker is in the process of taking the next steps on her journey in the turf industry.
When she joined Rick Woelfel on the Wonderful Women of Golf Podcast, Parker was in the process of changing jobs. She recently took a position at Cabot Cape Breton in Inverness, Nova Scotia, as the environmental coordinator after spending more than two years at the Ladies Golf Club of Toronto.
“I’m very excited to be taking on my next role,” Parker says. “For the most part, I’ll be working at the links course. However, I have the ability to work at Cabot Cliffs as well, a little bit here and there. I’m excited because it will be a completely different environment. They have a lot more fescue and different cultural practices. I believe there will be a lot to learn and they’ll be able to provide that.”
The 25-year-old Parker’s career in turf was launched while she was working a summer job at Magna Golf Club in Aurora, Ontario, roughly 30 miles (or 49 kilometers) north of Toronto. She was a nursing student at the time but was contemplating going in a different direction.
“After about three years I kind of just decided, ‘Maybe nursing’s not my thing,’” she says. “I’d always had a love for environmental aspects and being in nature and with nature.”
Parker switched her major from nursing to an environmental landscape track and continued to work at Magna Golf Club during the summers. In 2019, she was part of the crew that worked the CP Women’s Open at the club.
“That’s when I really decided I was going to (dive) into turf and make a dedicated career out of that,” she says.
To that end, she enrolled in the turfgrass management program at Penn State, earning an advanced certificate this past December.
In January 2020, Parker was hired at the Ladies Golf Club of Toronto. Located in Thornhill, Ontario, another northern Toronto suburb, the club traces its history back to 1924. It is the only remaining private club in North America founded and run by women. The golf course was designed by legendary architect Stanley Thompson.
“After about three years I kind of just decided, ‘Maybe nursing’s not my thing. I’d always had a love for environmental aspects and being in nature and with nature.”
Parker was hired as a spray technician but eventually became the second assistant superintendent. Over the next two years, her responsibilities expanded to include training and managing the seasonal staff and eventually significant input in the hiring process.
When it comes to agronomy, Parker prides herself on her versatility. She points out that during her time at the LGC of Toronto she was able to operate every piece of equipment on the property.
Parker left the club in April to assume her new position but notes the atmosphere created by the members at the LGC of Toronto was inspiring and left her feeling empowered.
“The club definitely does as much as they can to portray that and to continue to empower all of their staff,” she says. “They definitely want to see the females succeed and the members are more than open to talk about their own struggles in their own industries and how they got where they are today.
“Overall, it’s a very empowering and positive environment and I enjoyed every second of working there. Honestly, it was a great steppingstone in my career.”
When she reflects on her time in the industry and how it has affected her, Parker speaks to the willingness of those in it to share their knowledge and learn from one another.
“The ability to grow,” she says, “And the never-ending knowledge that is out there to learn about our industry is the big thing that kind of drew me in and kept me in. Another thing is you can reach out to anybody in our industry, whether you know them or not, and they’re going to help you to the best of their ability.”