Being a woman in a male-dominated sport is not easy. Our hats off to the women who are dedicated to the sport they love and making a positive impact on the game for all of us. This is the second in a two-part series looking at several women making a difference.
Joan C. Cavanaugh - Three years ago, Joan Cavanaugh plugged her creativity, courage and love of golf into a new business, Boardroom Golf, focusing on the importance of the game to a businesswoman’s success. An accomplished entrepreneur, master teacher and certified business golf coach, Cavanaugh said, “We want to show women how to play and how to use golf to create a level playing field in the boardroom.”
In addition to leading customized workshops at Golf Manhattan, Cavanaugh coauthored Teeing It Up For Success: Insights and Inspirations From Remarkable Women, a book that focuses on how to play golf for leadership and leisure. “Golf is a secret to business success and women are not using it to their advantage. I want to give them a feeling of confidence that golf is a game they can play,” she says.
She served on the National Board of the Executive Women’s Golf Association (EWGA), and founded several national LPGA-USGA girls’ golf chapters, and regularly speaks to groups on how to make golf a tool for strategic relationships.
“I love that men and women in the business circles here in New York City refer to me as The New York City Golfing Lady. I guess the message is getting out,” she said.
Suzy Whaley – Suzy Whaley is a true trailblazer who does it all. She is a Class A PGA professional, Class A LPGA Teaching and Club Professional, mom and wife. After winning the Connecticut PGA Section Championship in 2002, she also became the first woman in 58 years (since Babe Didrikson Zaharias) to be eligible to play in a PGA TOUR event. Whaley competed in the 2003 PGA Greater Hartford Open, and although she was cut the second day, she still shot a respectable 75 and 78, winning the hearts of female and male golfers everywhere.
Today, Whaley is the PGA National Player Development Co-chair and has received numerous endorsements in her bid to become the next Secretary of the PGA of America with elections in November.
Whaley’s influence on the game continues to resonate. She received the Nancy Lopez Achievement Award last year, was named a top five national female teacher by “Golf Digest” and earned the LPGA Northeast Teacher of the Year title. She has also made appearances on major news networks like Golf Channel, ESPN, national radio and has been a contributing writer for USA Today.
“I am working on many different levels to get more people playing and to show them you don’t have to be a par shooter to love the game,” Whaley said. “It’s the one place three generations can be outside playing a sport together in a healthy, beautiful environment. My mother taught me; I taught my daughters; and I hope they will teach my grandchildren. Golf is for everybody.”
Peggy Kirk Bell – Former tour player Peggy Kirk Bell played a key role in the founding of the LPGA Tour and is the legendary grand dame of her family-owned Pine Needles and Mid Pines resorts in Southern Pines, North Carolina, venue for past LPGA Tour events.
She was the first woman inducted into the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame (2004), and founded the Golfari golf school for women. In 2007, she formed the “Girls Golf Tour,” the largest girls-only tour in the country. Now 92, Bell continues to be hands-on when it comes to golf. She is often at her resort, overseeing her “Golfaris” offering some helpful golf tips on grip, posture and alignment, all key fundamentals she believes in.
Nicole Weller – Nicole Weller is the head teaching professional at The Landings Club in Savannah, Ga., and thanks to her passion for passing the sport on to the next generation of players, she knows how to make golf fun for kids – even if it means getting in the sand with them. For her work, Weller was awarded the prestigious PGA Junior Golf Leader Award.
Her book, Stick to Sports: Let’s Play Golf targets childhood development stages and how they relate to young golfers. Some of her suggestions: Have kids check for bubble gum on their back shoe in their follow-through and play an “I Spy” game to teach golf terms. A staff ambassador with The Littlest Golfer and a U.S. Kids Master Kids Teacher, Weller holds a master’s degree in sport psychology.