Suzy Whaley used the need for speed she discovered as a child while growing up in Connecticut to accomplish great things. She went from college golfer to instructor to the first female president in the history of the PGA of America in 2018.
“It’s a big responsibility,” Whaley told CBS News. “I take it seriously and it’s such a great honor.”
To fully understand where Whaley stands in the golf industry, one must realize where she’s
Whaley played golf at the University of North Carolina while majoring in economics. In 2002,
she became the first woman to qualify for a men’s PGA event in more than 50 years while
working as a golf instructor in Farmington, Connecticut. This was achieved after she won the state section of a greater PGA-sanctioned tournament.
“I wasn’t sure I was going to play in the Greater Hartford Open. It was a huge responsibility,” Whaley said. “I was repping my peers across the country. The tournament officials called almost
immediately after I qualified, wanting to know if I was going to play. I didn’t know. If I was going to tee it up, I was going to tee it up for real,” Whaley told CBS News.
It wasn’t until a conversation Whaley had had with her then 9-year-old daughter that she
decided to play.
“We were reading a book about taking chances and using opportunities and she asked me if I was going to play, and that’s when I realized that I had to do it,” Whaley said.
Whaley didn’t make the cut in the 2003 Greater Hartford Open but she made a big statement by just being able to have the chance to compete against the men.
“Hopefully, I showed young women that you can be successful,” Whaley told the Hartford Courant. “No matter gender, race, age or anything, everyone deserves an equal chance.” Whaley didn’t stop there. She was elected as secretary of the PGA of America in 2014 before being named president four years later. It was a big deal to be such a trailblazer in the sport and Whaley has big plans for the game.
“I would like to see golf clubs in the hands of more women and girls,” Whaley said. “I want to make golf a more inclusive sport.”