Have you ever found someone on Twitter and thought to yourself, “I want their job”? I’m sure you have. Well, Mattie-Lou Chandler’s job is one of those. She is in her first year as a player digital content strategist for the PGA Tour, traveling with the Tour and helping golfers and agents build their brands on social media. But what’s more impressive than Mattie-Lou’s job is the path she took to get there. Sparkles and Sports recently talked with her about her journey to the Tour and advice she has for women in a male-dominated field.
How did you get your start?
“I graduated from Alabama with degrees in finance and general business and a minor in computer science. I went to work for my dad who has a medical GPO, which I swore I would never do, and I hated it. I just didn't like finance and sales. I got it, and was doing well at it, but miserable. My sorority pledge class had a group text and they all loved The Bachelor. I hate the show. Double hate, loathe entirely. That group text would blow up on Monday nights and I said, "fine, we're going to have a Bachelor fantasy league and I'm commissioner." I would write these very tongue and cheek recaps of the episode every Tuesday morning when I got to the office (sorry, Dad) and one of my best friend’s now-husband was reading them to catch up on the show.
“Next thing you know, I have an email from Clay Travis at Outkick the Coverage telling me I needed to write the recaps for Outkick. I did, met him four months later in Nashville, and he said, "go on a female version of the Dixieland Delight Tour,” which was a book he wrote detailing his experience attending a different SEC football each week of the season. I quit my job, started covering college football for Outkick while nannying (because tailgating investigative journalism doesn't pay the big bucks), and the rest is history. This was almost four years ago.”
Talk about your current role, and how you made the transition from being a writer.
“I made the transition when I was kind of at a roadblock with college football and was becoming more frustrated in an oversaturated market. I've always loved golf and grew up with the game. I was fortunate enough that No Laying Up let me come onboard with them and the incredible platform they've built. I was only there for three months when I found out about my job they had created at the Tour. The easiest way to explain my job is I'm a consultant for the Tour for players and agents on how to build their personal social accounts. I also still do radio segments and hop in front of the camera when need be. I have a great boss and his boss who really let me evolve my role and I feel really lucky to have that opportunity.”
Discuss your experience being in such a male-dominated field. How do you stand your ground and act as the expert when you know that some men out there think the opposite?
“It's hard. It is so hard. However, it's the best kind of challenge. In my current role, I am literally the only female from the Tour that travels and is on site as much as I do. There are a couple others who have become quick friends and it seems they are on the road during a week when I'm at my breaking point.
“I love my job. It’s basically building and maintaining relationships with these players to build their personal brand. I'm asking them to put a lot of trust in me, and they have and continue to do so. I grew up in a golf family; I know it's a very conservative and male-dominated scene. You can't let a ‘bad day’ or a bad meeting ‘sink your ship.’
“There's a difference in being confident and being cocky (or the B-word). You have to straddle that line and set the precedent from the beginning that you are not and will not be a pushover. Are there days when I think I have to work twice as hard to get half the respect as my male counterparts? Absolutely. At the end of the day all of those "hiccups" make me better at my job. I think being a female in this industry, whether it's fair or not, you have to "talk the talk and RUN the walk." I've been in my role for coming up on eight months and I've watched those I deal with gain respect and trust me with greater responsibility, and that's great. I realize whether I want to be or not, I'm a trailblazer in the golf world, and that's pretty neat.”
What advice would you have for women who are in a male-dominated space and feel, like you said, they have to outrun their male counterparts just to keep up?
“I don't think you'll always be outrunning male counterparts. I think you will to prove yourself in some situations. Not every situation has left me feeling that way, but there have definitely been plenty. I think the best thing I can tell women is that as long as you know you prepared to the best of your ability, then you have no reason to not be confident going into meetings, presentations, etc. If you aren't confident in yourself and your abilities, it's going to be a miserable ride. Also, ask for help. I used to be scared and thought if by asking it would make it worse, but I could not have been more wrong. I have more respect for people who ask how they can be better, how something works, what would be the best option in this situation, etc. It's also crucial to find a group of girls in sports that you can vent, call and help, and drink wine with. They're a lifeline because most people don't understand this whole sports life we lead. But also have a group of guys at work that you can hang with. You'll be spending a lot of time with them.”
Mattie-Lou’s story shows that no two paths are alike. Be confident in yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for help and have a group of strong women to lean on. Remember: We’re all in this together. Reach out to any of us here at Sparkles and Sports, or Mattie-Lou (@MattieLouC) for support.