April 21, 2013

Golf: Maintaining the Masters a tough act to follow

By Tom Chard tchard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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.

(Continued on page 2)

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