By Nusrat Ara
Monday, June 21, 2010
When Nuzhat Gul says her work takes her on to male turf she means literal turf on golf courses. The only woman in all of India to manage the care and grooming of a golf course, she says other women should find openings in the country's boom in building golf courses.
SRINAGAR, Indian-administered Kashmir (WOMENSENEWS)--Her father is a retired agrostologist, which means he studied grasses. And in her childhood she loved playing with boys.
Maybe that helps explain Nuzhat Gul's confidence as the first female turf manager of the Royal Springs Golf Course in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir.
At 35, Gul is the first woman to look after the 18-hole golf course.
She holds this historic post for historic reasons. In 1999, as India and Pakistan started fighting on the hills of Kargil, some 200 kilometers from Srinagar, Western countries issued advisories to its citizens. The U.S. turf manager of Royal Springs duly left.
No other qualified turf professionals were available when the job came her way in 2002. She wound up taking what she describes as a job involving lots of physical labor.
"It is definitely not a white-collar job but a challenging 24-hour job,'" said Gul.
Some years back when she attended a course in turf management at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, she was the only woman in a class of 64. She stood apart for other reasons as well. "I was the only woman, from a rural background and a developing country," recalled the soft-spoken Gul.
For Gul it was a long way from her village in southern Kashmir, where women who venture beyond homemaking are in more typically female professions such as teaching.
Golf was introduced to Ind