For Stephanie Luttrell, there was no question that golf would play a significant role in her life. She came from a family of golfers and grew up with the game. During her freshman year of high school, she became more interested in the sport; quickly improving from scoring in the low 100s to shooting in the mid-70s in her senior year.
As a player, Stephanie was good enough that she made the women’s golf team at the University of Michigan as a walk-on where she played all four years. While the rest of her journey in golf was slightly unclear, she knew she wanted to work in the golf industry.
“Find something you’re passionate about and that you love, and it will never feel like work,” her father had told her frequently, and that’s exactly what Stephanie did. Luttrell earned a degree in mechanical engineering and now serves as Titleist’s Director of Metalwood Development where she plays an integral role in the development of Titleist golf clubs.
As part of MyGolfSpy’s series on Women’s Golf Month, we sat down with Stephanie Luttrell to learn about her trajectory in a field where there are few women, what she loves about her job, and how she hopes to bring more women into the golf club engineering world.
MGS: You started to take golf a little more seriously in high school and really found a passion for it. What was it about golf that you initially loved?
Stephanie: I think golf is an incredible game because you can approach it so many different ways, but I love that you ultimately control your own destiny. It’s a game that is you against the conditions and you against the course. I have a scientific background that loves to overanalyze, so being able to think about how best to approach and manage a golf course to score is fun for me.
MGS: When did you decide you wanted to become a golf club engineer?
Stephanie: I had always been gifted at mathematics, and I started to research where I could apply my skillset technically in golf. That’s when I discovered designing golf clubs was a viable career path for me. When I learned that I could apply my skillset towards developing golf clubs to help people enjoy the game more, it was a no brainer for me to go down this path.
MGS: How did you find your way into the golf industry?
Stephanie: During my senior of college, I had been sending out resumes and knocking on the doors of all of the key club companies from Titleist to Callaway to TaylorMade, you name it. It was fairly slow in 2002 when I was graduating from college, my brother had always attended the PGA Show in Orlando, and he said, “Why don’t you come with me this year?” I took him up on his offer, and I spoke to every major manufacturer there and said, “Here’s who I am, and this is what I want to do.”
I made a couple of key contacts and met Paul Guy, who was in the Callaway golf ball department at the time. He was nice enough to introduce me to the club engineering team. One thing led to another, and I learned that Callaway was growing its innovation team, and they created a position for me to join.
MGS: What did that first job entail?
Stephanie: I joined their R&D Department and ran motion capture research and study. For the first two years there, I worked in a very blue sky research capacity with them, looking at people swing golf clubs and analyzing that data, while trying to build analytical tools that would allow us to assemble golf clubs in a virtual environment based on players swings. It was a great introduction to what ultimately led me to the work I do now with Titleist.
MGS: You’ve worked in every product category, from designing putters, drivers, wedges, and understand specifications for tour players at a very intrinsic level. What is that you love about club engineering?
Stephanie: I receive so much satisfaction from working on products that I can enjoy, while also witnessing my family members, friends, and tour professionals play with and find success with. And this leads to them experiencing greater levels of enjoyment in the game. That, to me, is what this is all about.
MGS: You’ve had a lot of people supporting you along the way, and obviously you are in your position at Titleist because of a lot of hard work, but how can we continue supporting more women to get into club engineering?
Stephanie: I’ve absolutely had some great advocates and people who have believed in me, and have given me amazing opportunities to work in my dream job. But I’ve had some internal discussions with our department on how to get more female engineers, and I think it comes down to a couple of things: finding women who are passionate about the game and showing them the viable careers in this space. And it also comes down to being open to mentor and lend advice whenever you can. I also really believe that women add a lot of depth, and we add a new perspective to club design.
MGS: What advice would you give women wanting to be club engineers?
Stephanie: Women should know if you’re passionate about the game, and you know the game, there are no barriers to your success in working in golf. Always seek out opportunities and build relationships wherever you can because you need to go out and create the opportunity for yourself and work for it.