Amanda Fontaine didn’t plan on following in the footsteps of her father, Michael Fontaine, who served as superintendent of Ledges Golf Club (South Hadley, Mass.) when she was growing up. But she did just that, becoming Ledges’ head superintendent in 2021. We talked with Amanda about carrying on her father’s legacy and what she enjoys most about her career.
What sparked your interest in this field?
My dad was the superintendent at Ledges for 14 years, and I got my first job there when I was 16. I worked as a “cart kid” and answered phones, ran errands for the clubhouse; stuff like that. When I was 18 and going to college, I took a summer job at Ledges working in golf course maintenance. I liked being outside and working with my hands. But at the time, I was not interested in it as a career because it’s what my dad did. I wanted to do my own thing. I played ice hockey in college and played professionally for two years after I graduated, and then I started coaching full time. In 2018, I moved to New Hampshire and took an assistant coaching job at Plymouth State University and worked during the summers as an assistant superintendent at Lochmere Country Club. Three years later, I decided to move home and became head superintendent at Ledges, and I continue to coach hockey in the winter.
What is different about working at Ledges compared to other courses?
A big difference is that I work for an outside contractor called International Golf Maintenance (IGM), based in Florida. Previously, IGM ran the operations at Ledges while the local town owned the business, so it was really two separate entities. A few years ago, IGM began running the entire organization, and it’s made our overall communication unbelievably better. Between the clubhouse, pro shop, restaurant, maintenance and other areas, we all work together. There are so many things that happen day to day, but we’re good about going back and forth and scheduling things out to make sure it works for everyone. We’re always able to pull it off.
What are you doing to support fellow women in the industry?
Right now, we have a big group of women in the industry who are making waves – they’re calling it “breaking the grass ceiling.” I’ve become very involved with this group; I was recently asked to join an all-women volunteer group at the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open Golf Championship at Pebble Beach Resorts in July. It’ll be a cool experience to meet like-minded individuals. I’m really getting a feel for how many women there are in the industry, and it blows my mind to know how many others are out there.
Related: Pioneers of the Golf Industry – Alister MacKenzie
What do you enjoy most about your profession?
I truly love working outside. Whether you’re digging a hole or mowing grass, I like being able to look back, see a finished product and know I had a part in doing that. It’s very satisfying.
What advice do you have for aspiring superintendents?
Keep your head down and work hard. No matter what is between you and your goal, if you work hard and keep going, you’ll get there. The little things might be frustrating now, but it’s just a test. You can ask people for help, and there’s always a solution to any problem. The only thing holding you back is yourself, so if you have the mindset to go out and do it, you will.
How do you like to spend your free time?
As I mentioned, I coach ice hockey in the winter. Right now, I’m coaching a hockey team for girls ages 12 and under. I do a lot of time prepping for games – as we speak, I’m in the middle of setting a line up for our next game. Other than that, I’m always outside. I’m always moving. I kayak and fish in the summer, so if I’m not home, I’m usually out on the water somewhere.
Kyra Molinaro is an award-winning writer and editor based in Richmond, Virginia. She manages donor communications in the Advancement Office at the University of Richmond.