NEW BEDFORD, Massachusetts – Those taking a tour of Titleist’s Ball Plant 3 may find themselves touring with a volunteer tour guide Patty Sandsa longtime member of the Titleist family who uses their experience in the sport to provide unique insight into the making of golf’s #1 ball.
After more than 30 years with Titleist and 48 years as a competitive golfer, Sands has taken on a new challenge in the world of golf: to increase her knowledge of golf ball production and give back to the company and the sport that she loved for so long.
ONLINE: TITLEIST AND MASS GOLF | THE MASS GOLFER EPISODE 1 | VISIT THE BALE FACTORY 3
Sands’ golf career practically started by mistake. When she was growing up in Keyser, West Virginia, her father intended to teach his brother how to golf, but she taught it instead. Although West Virginia’s climate was not always conducive to outdoor golf, Sands would travel to a course near Cumberland, Maryland to play and practice.
Eventually, her father suggested that if she continued to improve, she could receive a golf scholarship and pay for her college education. With that motivation in mind, Sands worked hard enough to become Maryland’s 1979 Women’s Amateur Champion. The win led to a scholarship offer from the Louisiana State University Women’s Golf Team, a newly formed program who would compete in his first season during Sands’ freshman year.
“We weren’t very good, but the goal was to pay for my college education, so we played golf,” she joked. “At that time, it wasn’t so much about playing golf. I actually started to be more intrigued by the golf industry around that time.
Sands retired from competitive golf after graduation and took up a position as a professional golf assistant. In 1988, she was hired to work in customer service at Titleist, so she moved to Massachusetts to work at Acushnet’s corporate headquarters.
She then moved on to a role in golf ball manufacturing, running the custom ball operation that adds logos to balls and managing golf ball production at Titleist’s Ball Plant 2.
“I got to know some of the greatest people in the golf industry at the best golf company,” she said of her time as a full-time staff member at Titleist.
She decided to retire a few years ago to spend more time with her family and on the course, which opened the door for her to become a member of Mass Golf. She has since competed in senior female golf, and she has the Massachusetts Senior Women’s Amateur Championship and the United States Senior Women’s Amateur Championship on the list of events she would like to attend.
However, his journey with Titleist was not over yet. When the company decided to start running bullet factory tours in 2017, Sands was quick to return as a bullet factory tour guide.
“I love Titleist,” Sands said. “I think of the world of Titleist and not just because I worked there, I just believe in the product they make and the honesty and integrity of the company. And I said, ‘Fine sure, I would love to arrange tours.”
Sands gives up to two tours a day as a volunteer. She spends a lot of time before each tour trying to find out more about her touring group so she can personalize each expedition on the production set as much as possible. Although she has given many tours, she always goes through her material in advance each time and notes any information that would be relevant to a specific group.
“It’s about knowing what’s behind the words,” she said. “So if there’s a question, or you know there’s somebody who wasn’t even a golfer but loves the manufacturing, you talk a bit more about that, some of the parameters that we can talk about on the technology, how our golf ball is made.
More than anything, Sands loves when she can teach a participant something new and invoke what she calls the “I didn’t know this factor.”
“I like to talk a bit about history because when you can learn something that you didn’t know before, you can just take it and your mind starts to go,” she said. “You can really develop that. So the biggest thrill for me is when someone learns something about the product and maybe the businesses we have.
A particularly memorable tour Sands gave was to Jessica Korda in March when the LPGA Tour Pro was in the area.
“I think the Korda sisters are really good ambassadors for the game,” Sands said. “They try to get people to play golf and not only was it [the tour] proof, but she was really intrigued to learn how her golf ball is made. I find it very interesting even at this level because they don’t have to show that kind of interest, but she did. Especially as a golfer, I say to myself: “I’m really proud that you are an ambassador for the game because you show the enthusiasm that people of all ages need to see, that golf is a sport that everyone can practice”. .’”
As a woman with more than three decades of experience in the golf industry, Sands also believes that expanding opportunities on the course for many different people can benefit the sport in the long run. She feels grateful to have worked for a company that is committed to improving the accessibility of the sport both on the course and on the operations side, noting that Titleist “adds a lot of value” by doing so.
Sands offered the following advice to women and girls interested in the golf industry: “There are so many more opportunities than just playing golf and it’s just being able to find that niche where you can add value and fit into the organization.
Visit MassGolf.org and follow @PlayMassGolf on Facebook, Twitter, instagram and Youtube for the latest information on Mass Golf competitors, championships and events. To join the conversation, use the hashtag #MassGolf.