When it comes to gender diversity among PGA Professionals, the numbers are staggering. Only about five percent of PGA Professionals are women, roughly 1,500 of the 29,000 PGA Professionals in the United States.
When Manchester Country Club (Bedford, New Hampshire) assistant professional Kelly Hunt was one of nine women in a 56-person PGA Level I seminar, the issue didn’t seem quite so glaring.
“The educators made it very clear that that was an anomaly, and it is normally much less,” she said. “That inspired me to do a little bit of Google searching and I quickly learned that I was part of a very small group of people.”
Kelly has a history of facing challenges head-on, so she didn’t let the stats intimidate her. Instead, she focused on a solution. That’s when her website, Golfhers.net, was born. Kelly launched the site in January as part of her capstone project before graduating from Seattle U, which she did this March. Her goal with the site is to connect female leaders in the golf industry, and she has already featured almost a dozen women. By sharing their stories and building a network of leaders who encourage women to work in golf, she is working to make a difference.
“Being female in the industry is abundantly important,” she said. “I grew up playing golf and I went to hundreds of different golf courses and I honestly cannot recall a time when I saw a female working in a golf shop or teaching on a range. Why would anyone like me ever think that would be a career path? At the end of the day, seeing is believing. If we see women in these leadership positions, young girls will look up to them and maybe one day strive to be in that leadership position too.”
While the women featured on GolfHers share a common thread, their individual stories shine through. There’s Sayre Hopper, assistant professional at Carmel Country Club (North Carolina), the only female on the golf staff at the 36-hole facility. There’s Karina Davila, who transitioned from Veracruz, Mexico to Lewiston, Idaho to play collegiate golf at Lewis-Clark State College and is currently one of three golf assistants at Indian Canyon GC in Spokane, Wash. There’s fellow New England PGA Professional Allison Mitzel, who was identified as a future leader within the PGA of America when she was selected to the 15-person 2020-21 PGA LEAD Class. Kelly also shared her own unique and challenging path into the golf industry.
“It’s been inspiring to see the support it’s getting from men and women alike,” she said. “My general manager posted on LinkedIn and my second blog post got 2,000 views. That really put things into perspective that ‘hey, you’re doing something that matters, it might be hard and you’re going to need a lot of support along the way but I need to keep doing this.’”
One question Kelly makes sure to ask everyone she interviews is “how do we get more women working in the golf industry?” She has compiled the answers onto a page of Golfhers.net to serve as a resource for other professionals.
“I know that one of the PGA’s goals is to get more women working in green glass facilities, I know that initiative was launched in 2013. But if we look at the numbers, I don’t think they’ve increased to the amount that they could have. So I want to say ‘hey, here’s a guide of all of these ideas that these 20 women have given to me about how we can get more women working in green grass facilities or interested in the PGM program.’ Eventually that tab will be a guide. How can we bring awareness to this career path that so many women, like myself, did not know about for so long?”