Kaye Pierson of Bath and Pinehurst, N.C., realized a long-held dream when she got to work on the maintenance crew for this year’s Masters in Augusta, Ga.
Pierson, 58, helped with the mowing of the 15th and 11th greens at Augusta National. She also worked on the 16th green, mowed a practice green and was stationed behind the par-3 12th hole during the tournament.
In case the green needed to be cleared of debris, Pierson was ready with a hand blower. She said Sergio Garcia of Spain asked an official for the debris to be cleared when he played the hole Saturday. With the exception of hand-blowing the green, Pierson was at work mowing long before the spectators (excuse me, “patrons”) were allowed in.
For the last six years, Pierson has worked at the Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, N.C., mowing fairways, greens, raking bunkers and doing, as she says, “whatever needs to be done with a lot of other people.”
Pierson works on Pinehurst’s famed No. 2 course, the No. 4 course and the practice area. Pinehurst has eight golf courses, but No. 2 is the crown jewel. Next year, Pinehurst No. 2 will host both the men’s and women’s U.S. Opens in consecutive weeks in June.
Pierson, a Vermont native, has lived in the Bath area for 30 years. She is married to David Leonard, owner of the Kennebec Company (designers and cabinetmakers) in Bath. She’s a former women’s club champion at Bath Country Club and played in Women’s Maine State Golf Association tournaments for years.
From mid-June to mid-October, Pierson works as a starter-ranger at the Samoset Resort in Rockport.
Pierson said working at the Masters was on her bucket list.
Pierson and her husband attended the Masters last year and while there, she asked one of the maintenance crew members, “How do you get to do this?” She was told she’d have to apply. Augusta National increases its maintenance crew for the tournament because of the work needed to be done.
“They bring in workers who are experienced from all over the country for the tournament,” said Pierson.
“I spoke to my superintendent at Pinehurst. He’s known the superintendent at the Masters for 20 years. I was what they call a temporary hire. Not only did I get to go to the Masters, I got paid.”
Pierson, a former nurse at Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, loves the early-morning solitude of her job.
“A few years ago I said to my husband, my dream job would be to sit on a mower with a headset mowing a fairway or a green,” she said.
“As a golfer I always enjoyed early morning the most. You’re a dew sweeper, the air is fresh and it’s quiet except for the mowers. It’s just you and the golf course. After my dad and sister passed away in 2009, my bucket list started to grow. I’ll always tap on that glass ceiling, help others along the way, and strive to love my family and friends like there’s no tomorrow.”
Pierson’s first bucket-list wish was to work at Pinehurst. She realized that when she was hired as a starter-ranger. When her position was cut, she got a job with the maintenance crew.
Then it was to work at the Masters. Now her bucket-list item is to work at the British Open at St. Andrews.
“That’s one of my favorite tournaments,” said Pierson.
At the Masters, she met someone who works at St. Andrews who could be a good contact.
During the Masters, Pierson had a chance to talk with two-time champion Ben Crenshaw, who noticed the Pinehurst No. 2 hat she was wearing. Crenshaw, a golf course architect, was involved in the extensive renovation of No. 2 for next year’s Opens.
“He was very nice,” said Pierson.
Stationed at the 12th hole, she said anticipating the crowd’s reaction to a good shot was exciting.
“We knew where the shot was immediately but the patrons couldn’t tell right away,” she said.
That’s because there are no patrons around the 12th green. They’re 160 yards away behind the tee.
Pierson will work the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C., in two weeks. She worked at the tournament last year because she wanted the experience.
At the Masters, Pierson couldn’t leave her post at the 12th until the final group had played the hole. Late Sunday afternoon, she worked her way back to the clubhouse. When she knew there was going to be a playoff, she headed to the 10th green with a co-worker. She was greenside when Adam Scott sank the birdie putt to win the tournament.
TEE TO GREEN: Val Halla Golf Course in Cumberland will hold a qualifier for the national Drive, Putt and Chip Championship on July 22. The deadline for registering is April 30. It’s free and open to boys and girls ages 7 to 15. The national finalists will compete at Augusta National on the Sunday before next year’s Masters. Competitors will hit three drives, three chips and three putts, and scores will be determined on a point system based on accuracy and distance. Age divisions are 7-9, 10-11, 12-13 and 14-15. One boy and one girl in each age division will advance to a regional tournament at Pine Hills Country Club in Plymouth, Mass. Register at www.drivechipAndputt.com. The national competition is being run by the USGA, the PGA of America and the Masters. Age groupings will be based on one’s age on April 6, 2014.
Sunset Ridge Golf Course in Westbrook opened the front nine and holes 10 and 18 on Friday. The nine-hole, par-3 course also opened. The course is off the River Road. Scott Mann is the new head pro. Mann formerly was the head pro at the Falmouth Country Club. He can be reached at 854-9463. Work is continuing on the rest of the fairways on the back nine to get them in playing condition.
Greg Baker is the new head pro at Toddy Brook Golf Course in North Yarmouth. For the last four years, Baker has been an assistant pro at Martindale in Auburn. Baker also coaches the Yarmouth High golf team.
Chad Penman has been hired as head pro at Boothbay. His most recent positions have been at Maidstone Club in East Hampton, N.Y., and Calusa Pines Golf Club in Naples. Fla.
Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: