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She'll meet you on the course

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Harriet Smith, of Crosslake, is perhaps the only female golf starter in the area, if not the state. She works at Crosswoods Golf Course in Crosslake, and both she and owner Kelly Stone agree they’ve never seen a female starter before.

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As a starter, Smith is responsible for greeting the golfers as they come onto the course, verifying their tee times, explaining the course and marking down their cart numbers. She lets them know about the food available at the clubhouse and does her best to put nervous golfers at ease as they tee off at the first hole.

Stone said golfers usually comment that they’ve never seen a female starter before, adding that it’s refreshing.

Stone also said that Smith knows the Crosswoods course well and gets along well with any age, joking that she keeps the bachelor parties in line.

Smith also said that golfers are surprised when they see a female starter greeting them at the first hole.

“They say, ‘Well, look here. It’s about time,’” Smith said. “It’s the only job I’ve ever had when people thank me for having a good time.”

She not only enjoys telling people about the course, but she loves simply being out in the fresh air. There’s also the camaraderie she feels amongst those who are on the course and the ladies in the golf league she’s a part of.

Smith, 70, has been golfing for 40 years. She raised both her own two daughters and her two nephews after both her sister and brother-in-law passed away. When one of her nephews was in junior high school, he wanted to play golf but needed a ride to the course. Instead of waiting in the car, Smith took up the sport and has been playing off and on ever since. She hopes to continue playing until she’s 90, she said.

She enjoys every part of the game, even the frustration.

“You’re never perfect at it. Even the pros aren’t perfect,” she said.

Golfing is a popular sport for her whole family. Smith said nearly all of her family plays, and her daughter married a professional golfer after Smith suggested her daughter take lessons with him.

Smith plays golf at least three times a week, not counting the time she spends working Saturdays as a starter. She’ll play at least twice a week with her husband and once a week with the ladies golf league at the course.

She plans to play through the autumn until the snow flies.

“Golfers are a tough bunch. Fifty degrees and sunny is great for us,” she said.

Smith calls her position as a starter her fourth career. She and her husband, Charlie, are both retired, but “neither one of us likes to sit still,” she said.

Smith was a beautician, and then took a position as a production control manager in a circuit board warehouse. After that she spent around 20 years in real estate.

Smith said her job as production control manager was also a male-dominated position. She doesn’t consider herself a feminist, though, just someone doing what she enjoys.

“My mother told me I could do anything I set my heart at,” Smith said simply.

The season is still going strong at Crosswoods, and Smith said she’ll work through the season and hopes to come back next year, too. “If they’ll take me,” she said.

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