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Rylee Bays Aces Lonnie Poole Golf Course Internship

NC State flag at Lonnie Poole Golf Course

Lonnie Poole Golf Course, located just minutes away from downtown Raleigh and North Carolina State University’s main campus, offers a picturesque view. Despite its proximity to campus, the golf course provides a unique experience that sets it apart from the typical on-campus culture and opportunities. For instance, it recently provided an internship and job opportunity to Rylee Bays, an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in the Department of Horticultural Science. The well-manicured landscape of the golf course is a world of its own.

Bays has worked with the golf course for four years and is the only woman currently working on their grounds crew. She has stayed for so long because it offered her a chance to fulfill internship requirements in her major and provided opportunities for what she loves to do for work and fun.

Greens of Lonnie Poole Golf Course
One of the expertly manicured greens at Lonnie Poole Golf Course.

“I haven’t taken up golf yet,” Bays said, “but staying active, working outside, getting to train on the machines used in the upkeep of the course, and just getting my hands dirty all checked the boxes for me.” 

Bays said there are some downsides like having to wake very early so she can arrive by 6:00 a.m. She is also not a fan of bunker duty. “Waking up and throwing myself into a sand pit is a rough start to the day,” she said with a chuckle, but the good so greatly outweighs the “rough” Bays says she’s interested in a career in golf course maintenance. It also helps that the team at Lonnie Poole Golf Course is incredibly supportive. 

“My supervisors are very helpful and understand the demands on a student.” This type of experience is highly beneficial for students as it provides them with an opportunity to witness various aspects of a business within the horticulture industry. Moreover, the understanding that students have academic commitments to fulfill while also trying to gain work experience makes jobs and internships more appealing. This approach enables students to keep one foot in academia and the other in the industry. 

 Bays has been able to learn about grass, weed control, moisture level, and all the minutiae that are required to keep a golf course at a top level. She also has learned about the running of the maintenance shed that keeps the gears of the course going and allows the golfers to keep swinging away. She enjoys that there’s always something new and the days are rarely, if ever, repetitive, so boredom isn’t a problem.

Sunrise view of downtown Raleigh from Bays’s “office” on the Lonnie Poole Golf Course greens.

While golf courses can be a place of serenity and relaxation mixed with the outrage and frustration of pulling shots and penalty strokes, Bays finds peace in the active, always-moving environment. 

“I would say I am an introvert,” she says. Listening to podcasts while getting your work done, seeing the wildlife strolling around on the outskirts of an urban forest, and being out in the beautifully manicured greens of Lonnie Poole has kept Bays coming back and sparked a love for the work. 

Having this job that’s just right off Centennial Campus is a huge benefit for students looking to enter the golf industry and Bays encourages anyone with similar interests to give it a try. 

“I would love to see more women in golf course maintenance,” Bays said, “because it is a great field, there is so much to learn and an overall fantastic environment.”

Are you interested in studying horticulture?

The Department of Horticultural Science provides a hands-on academic path with real-world benefits and applications. Explore our undergraduate and graduate programs to learn from expert faculty and have career-focused experiences.

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