Golf News & Golf Tips
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Suzy Whaley joined the PGA of America in search of more competitive playing opportunities, a modest ambition that 17 years later has morphed into her becoming the first female president of the PGA of America.
Whaley, 51, who for the last two years has served as the association’s vice president, will formally be elected to a two-year term later on Friday at the PGA’s annual meeting here.
“I’m so grateful to the PGA of America,” Whaley told Golf World recently, noting she could never repay in full what the association has given her. “I’m humbled by the fact that our 29,000 members have confidence in me to lead the PGA of America.
“Obviously, as a woman, at the end of the day, if, like the Renee Powells and Mary Bea Porters, women who led by example, if others see me in that role, how exciting for the game beyond enhancing our members’ careers.”
It was a lack of competitive opportunities for women professionals not playing the LPGA that steered her toward becoming a member of the PGA in 2001.
“I became a PGA professional so I could play more competitive golf,” she said. “I watched my husband [Bill], who also is a PGA professional, playing. I was an LPGA Teaching and Club Pro and didn’t have that opportunity. My husband got sick of me complaining about it and said, ‘why don’t you join?’ I said, ‘I think I will.’”
Whaley, the director of instruction at Suzy Whaley Golf in Cromwell, Conn., originally set out to play the LPGA, and was a member in 1990 and 1993. But she gravitated toward teaching and spent five years with the Jim Flick Golf Schools, then became the head professional at Blue Fox Run in Avon, Conn., in 2002.
The same year, Whaley won the Connecticut PGA Championship and earned an exemption into the PGA Tour’s Greater Hartford Open the following year.
Meanwhile, she had become active in the PGA’s Connecticut Section. “I met so many amazing people in the PGA of America that were as passionate about the game as I am,” she said. “I joined committees and ended up loving that, so I joined more committees.” She eventually became a board member at the section, as well as a vice president at large, was elected the secretary of the PGA of America in 2014, then was elected its vice president in 2016.
She succeeds outgoing president Paul Levy, who on June 7 was arrested for driving under the influence after he was involved in a single-vehicle accident in Palm Desert near here.
Levy was the second of the last three PGA of America presidents to tarnish the office near the end of his term. In 2014, Ted Bishop was dismissed by the PGA for calling Ian Poulter a “Lil Girl” in a Tweet and in a Facebook post saying that he “Sounds like a little school girl squealing during recess. C’MON MAN!”
Whaley assumes the presidency only months after the PGA of America hired Seth Waugh as its CEO, replacing Pete Bevacqua.
“I’ve known Seth for awhile,” Whaley said. “I had an opportunity to serve with him in a board capacity. He is a proven CEO [formerly with Deutsche Bank Americas]. His network in golf is extensive. He loves the game and is passionate about growing game. He has a son pursuing professional golf, so he also understands the game from a parent’s perspective, which I think is incredibly important. I’m excited to work with Seth and have an opportunity to learn from him.”
Golf News & Golf Tips