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The Women in Golf Series: Karlene Hadley

Mar 27, 2014

Sometimes, a job in golf isn’t what you’d expect it to be. Such is the case for Karlene Hadley, a recent Golf Academy of America graduate who is now an Assistant Golf Professional at Seville Golf and Country Club, a private facility in Gilbert, Ariz. 

“I was brought on board to really ramp up the ladies’ programming and bring a creative spin to the golf operation,” said Hadley. “My first day at Seville, I had to put my skills to use, including calligraphy. That, I was not expecting!” She’s also been involved with tournament operations, handicap administration, tee sheet management and merchandising.

The diverse job makes a lot of sense for Hadley, whose path to a golf career wasn’t cut-and-dried. Her first experiences with golf were later in life, when she started playing recreationally after college. “Over the 15 or more years since I started, I never was an avid player and never took lessons,” Hadley said. “I played mostly for business, five to seven times per year. Some years, I never played.”  Her decision to enroll at Golf Academy of America came after she had accomplished everything she wanted in her previous career in commercial insurance, finishing as a multi-line underwriter.

“I had something out there tugging at me, and golf was it,” said Hadley. “I brought a different dynamic to the mostly-male dominated positions I held and knew I could hold my own with the guys playing golf. From a business perspective, that gave me an edge.”  

She chose GAA for the broad scope of exposure. “For someone like me, it was key,” she said. “I never had lessons. I knew nothing about the operations of a golf course or the history of golf, and I did not know the rules. I had never even opened a rulebook. GAA prepared me for the big picture, and it really has been up to me to apply that knowledge at the detailed level. All of the tidbits of information from the instructors’ experiences have been invaluable.”

Hadley advises women looking to enter the golf industry to gear up their game, focus on academics and get PGA certified. “It carries more weight in the industry, and there are so few women who are PGA,” she said. “You do have to have a strong personality, but that doesn't mean a negative edge to battle with men in the industry. That means strong to persevere and earn credibility with how you handle yourself working in a male-dominated field.”