SoCal Holds Inaugural Women’s Golf Summit

May 18, 2018


In the middle of her keynote address Thursday afternoon, PGA of America Vice President Suzy Whaley did not hesitate while referring to Southern California as the country’s most progressive region for fostering growth and driving change in the game of golf.

Touting the most golf professionals, one of the largest female amateur contingencies and the most influential leaders in the industry, SoCal golf’s forefront organizations pooled their collective resources during Whaley’s visit, creating an event that organizers hope will be duplicated on a national scale.

An unprecedented joint effort between the Southern California Golf Association (SCGA), the Southern California PGA (SCPGA) and PGA Magazine, the Women’s Golf Summit at Pacific Palms Resort created the ultimate networking opportunity and shaped a slew of conversations during panel discussions.

“Welcome to the first-ever Southern California Women’s Golf Summit…how cool is this?” exclaimed SCGA Board Member Nikki Gatch, PGA, who drew a loud ovation from the crowd Thursday morning. “I want to thank you for being here because this is a monumental event – it’s a first of its kind.”

With over 100 in attendance, a diverse blend of the region’s most prolific golf professionals, local club board members, merchandisers, instructors and trailblazers joined LPGA Tour winners, college coaches, business leaders and even a self-diagnosed golf addict for the inaugural gathering aimed at improving women’s golf at the local level.

Moderators (including Gatch, PGA/LPGA Director of Instruction Sandy Lemon, PGA Relationship Consultant Susan Bond and SCGA Junior Program Director Jennifer Seislove) and panelists led the dialogue by broaching topics such as “breaking the grass ceiling” and “making golf more welcoming for women.”

The unfiltered, honest dissemination of facts, stories and advice set the passionate tone for a day full of efforts to advocate and advance women’s golf. Panelists emphasized the power of an invitation, stressing women want to learn golf, they just need to be invited.

Whaley, revered as one of the most prominent instructors of women’s golf in the country, brought the Summit to a fever pitch during her remarks. Inclement weather kept her from arriving to Industry until shortly before her speech, but nothing was going to keep Whaley from the stage.

“My favorite thing to do is talk to women about the game of golf,” she said emphatically. “I wouldn’t have missed this and I’m thrilled to be a part of this.”

During her 35-minute address, Whaley – who is soon slated to become the first female president in the history of the PGA of America – shared her struggles in advancing within a predominantly male-influenced arena.

Her primary message to the audience, though, centered around the importance of inviting other women into golf circles through persistence, sincerity and most importantly, positivity. The power is in the invitation.

“I beg of you to leave today, talking about golf positively when you’re in public,” Whaley said. “Amateur golfers want to learn, they just need a door to be opened. Peer recruitment will drive our game’s growth. Build those friendships that will forever foster this game.”

Whaley also assisted the SCPGA in awarding sets of new golf clubs to eight players on the Rowland High School girls’ golf team as part of the Association’s Club Fore Youth program. Since the start of fundraising in April 2017, the SCPGA has awarded 317 sets of clubs to junior players, nearly 250 of which have gone to girls.

Two of the best and brightest from the region’s stout junior golf programs, Samantha Rocha (SCGA Junior Scholar) and Angella Then (alumni of SCPGA Junior Tour), also took the stage to speak upon the opportunities afforded to develop not only their golf games, but off-the-course life and career skills as well.

Lastly, the Summit audience heard from Alex Smith – a two-time recipient of a Folds of Honor scholastic scholarship – who shared her story of perseverance after her parents were significantly affected, both physically and mentally, during and after military service.

Folds of Honor, which raises the large percentage of its foundation’s funds through Patriot Golf Days and similar national tournaments, has awarded 16,000 scholarships during its existence.

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Hi!  The Women’s Golf Summit sounds like it was amazing!  I wish I would have paid better attention to the announcements because I certainly would have loved to go.  I am very interested in learning more about working in the field of golf.  How do we start?  Where do we look?  What kind of jobs are there?  Where do we go to find these answers?  I know several women in the same boat, who would love to do more for others as well as themselves, as it relates to golf.  Please help.  Thank you!  Rebecca Clites