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arpe Diem. Take a chance. Seize every opportunity. These are the mantras by which Suzy lives. Pass on law school to go to PGA Tour school? She did. Play in a men’s tour event? She has. Run for PGA secretary? She is. Suzy’s long history of and passion for golf brings her to another opportunity to leave her footprint. If she wins the election, she will be the first female elected official in PGA history. Candidates can only run for secretary; it’s the entryway position. From there, the winner rotates into the role of vice president and eventually president to complete the term. Instead of competing on the green, Suzy is competing on the ground, traveling across the country to talk to the different sections. The logistics of this competition may be entirely different – political vs. athleticism – but Suzy said she and her opponents, Michael Haywood and Russ Libby, are treating it like any other round. “Strategically, we all look at it kind of like a competition. To be honest, kind of like an oncourse competition,” Suzy said. “I look at it the same as I looked at preparing [for the Greater Hartford Open.]” Even though Suzy is familiar with the challenges, she is facing a third opponent in November’s election that Haywood and Libby don’t have to worry about: 98 years of male-dominated history. Suzy is not the first woman to get her name on the ballot. Just two years ago during the last PGA elections, Sue Fiscoe ran for secretary. Though she did not win, Suzy said that if her friend and colleague had not found the courage to run, she might not have either. Though Sue took the step to let the PGA know it was ready to be represented by a woman, Jenn said she still sees and feels the

hesitancies that have and will try her mother as elections near. “She’s facing now the fact that there are so many men in the business that don’t think a woman should be able to run the golf industry,” Jenn said. “Even now, from 2003 when she played to now, she’s still facing the same challenges.” Even though Suzy recognizes this too, that things are a harder for a woman in her position, she does not want her gender to be the reason for her successes. It is the same when she qualified for the PGA Tour as it is if she wins PGA Secretary. Suzy wants to be the best, man or woman, because she is the most qualified, a mindset she has had for a while. “I just always grew up knowing I wanted to do the best I could do,” Suzy said. “It didn’t matter who I was competing against.” These moments are and were huge for women in sports, not just in the United States. Suzy Whaley was a figure for women around the world, receiving calls from China, France, Australia, Korea and Japan in the time after her qualifying round. While the phone rang at all hours of the day and mail poured in from around the globe, Jenn and

Kelly and Jenn Whaley

But it wasn’t too long before Suzy made countless television and radio appearances, interviewed with magazines and newspapers. She went to them, and the cameras would even come to her, swarming the house for around 3,500 interviews in total. It became the norm for the Whaleys. While Kelly said she remembers her mother taking some swings at the Greater Hartford Open, it is the cameras that both recall. Now having experienced their own moments on the course where people questioned their skill, Jenn and Kelly get it. They get it more now than they did 12 years ago. It was more than their mother talking to People Magazine. “It’s more fun looking back now because we can appreciate it more and appreciate what she did and

“I JUST ALWAYS GREW UP KNOWING I WANTED TO DO THE BEST I COULD DO. IT DIDN’T MATTER WHO I WAS COMPETING AGAINST.” - Suzy Whaley

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QBSN: THE MAGAZINE theqbsn.com

her younger sister Kelly were still too young to grasp the magnitude of their mother’s impact. A few years before the qualifying for the GHO, Suzy made an appearance on the Golf Channel. First-grade Jenn passed out slips of paper to her classmates letting them know her mother would be on TV – a feat worthy of playground bragging rights.

the fact that she did qualify in the first place and all the preparation she did to play,” Jenn said. “We get to hear more stories now from it. There were so many people out there that didn’t condone what she was doing and would send her nasty mail and things like that and how she had to overcome all that diversity and everything and still played incredibly well.” This ability to overcome obstacles set forth by a male dominated world is what made her such a dynamic idol in 2003 and after. Even more so is her perspective, that being a woman is not a disadvantage but an advantage. It was a moment when such thoughts were unfathomable. There was a wall, but she created a chance. “I had the opportunity because of it, quite honestly, to excel, but you can look at it one of two ways. I could have looked at it as ‘I’m not going to be able to succeed’ or you could look at it as a huge opportunity.”

April 23, 2014

QBSN: The Magazine, Issue 4  

The Quinnipiac Bobcats Sports Network's quarterly publicaation

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