Suzy Whaley is undeniably one of the most influential and successful women in the golf industry. As current President of the PGA of America, the first woman since 1945 to qualify for a PGA Tour event, and one of only nine women to obtain PGA Master Professional certification, Whaley’s great success hasn’t come without an equally substantial amount of hard work.
The start of her career came in the late 1990s when she became a club professional in Connecticut and member of the PGA of America. Whaley often speaks about the importance and impact the 29,000 professionals in America have on the ever-growing golf industry.
“The golf industry is an $84 billion industry and PGA Professionals are the direct connection that brings together consumers and facilities,” she said. “As PGA professionals, we work through 800 hours of education to receive our membership and can further our education even more through certifications and master professional status, each of which requires multiple more hours of training.
“Our 29,000 professionals are spread across 41 sections and all 50 states and are employed in multiple career paths in the industry including golf operations, executive management, coaching and teaching, and industry positions.”
— NGF (@NGF_GolfBizInfo) April 30, 2019
The National Golf Foundation cites golf’s total reach as 107 million people, representing more than one-third of the U.S. population over the age of five. With such a large reach, Whaley finds many reasons why advertising within the industry has the potential to be successful.
“Companies chose to brand with us for activation not only of our 29,000 members in the marketplace but also for the prestige, digital and commercial assets we offer through our tournaments that are broadcast worldwide,” Whaley said. “Companies that partner with us also have the opportunity to engage the fan base of all those attending and watching our championships and we, in turn, have the opportunity to promote our PGA Professionals and the great work they do in their communities.”
The media space within the golf industry has reached an all-time high, with 74 million people watching and reading about golf in 2018. Suzy and the PGA of America host some of the most talked-about events in golf, including the PGA Championship, the Kitchen Aid Senior PGA Championship, The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup.
In an effort to grow the game, Whaley aims to make sure all members of the golf community have access to building relationships with PGA professionals and even further golf’s reach in the future with newly-implemented programs.
“Through our foundation, PGA Reach, companies and individuals have the opportunity to engage with our PGA Professionals through PGA Hope, PGA Junior League, and PGA Works,” she said. “Our three pillars are military, youth, and inclusion and we are striving to ensure that all are invited to participate and play the game.”
The growing accessibility of the game can only mean good things for advertisers in the market space. With 76% of golf courses in the U.S. open to all players — the highest public-to-private ratio in history — more and more people have the opportunity to get involved in the number one outdoor pay-for-play participation sport in the country.