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The Diva Golfer

1/31/17, 8:00 PM

They call me the Diva Golfer … and I love it! Though it’s sometimes difficult for me to wrap my brain around the fact that my professional identity revolves around a sport I was oblivious to for most of my life.

Originally published in FORE Magazine.

By Azucena Maldonado

They call me the Diva Golfer … and I love it! Though it’s sometimes difficult for me to wrap my brain around the fact that my professional identity revolves around a sport I was oblivious to for most of my life.

Today things are different. Golf is on my mind 365 days a year. I’ve made it my mission to introduce women, especially Latinas, to golf for their professional development, personal enjoyment and to promote a healthy lifestyle. I spend my days creating innovative ways to bring women into the game and developing programs and events that will convert them into golfers. Since 2008, when I founded the Latina Golfers Association (LGA), I have had over 1,300 women participate in our golf clinics, golf lessons, golf outings, tournaments for women, golf fashion shows and golf related outings — I am very proud of what the LGA has accomplished.

My biggest satisfaction comes when I see photos posted on social media of our members playing golf with each other, their family members and clients … without me! They blossom into bona fide golfers and become ambassadors for the LGA and the sport as a whole. It’s also gratifying when they tell me how golf has enhanced their personal and professional lives.

My passion for growing the game started as a love affair with golf some 13 years ago. I knew nothing about the sport until the day a fanatic, avid golfer invited me to join him on the putting green as a date. I fell head over heels for the game and spent the next three years practicing several hours a week and playing as often as possible. I joined a golf club, became a member of the SCGA and worked diligently at lowering my handicap. Those days were blissful.

The focus of my passion, however, shifted abruptly when I played in my first charity golf tournament. I had never participated in a business golf outing and it was an amazing experience. I saw, first hand, how effective golf is as a business tool. I saw how golf leveled the playing field and broke down gender and cultural barriers, because on the course, we’re all solely “golfers.” I saw how golfers bond with each other and I benefited from the golf network after the tournament. What was glaring to me, however, was that there were less than a handful of women participating in that tournament and in the many subsequent events I played.

Knowing that so many women were missing out on the benefits of business through golf was jolting. It really upset me. Initially I thought that men were deliberately keeping women out, but that hasn’t been the case for me. I learned that there are simply too few women actually playing golf and that many are intimidated to take on business golf.

For these reasons, I founded the Latina Golfers Association with the goal of breaking the glass ceiling with a golf ball. The LGA has been a tremendous success and a labor of love. The LGA links women to golf and makes the game accessible to communities of women that, for the most part, have not been exposed to it. And the LGA creates golf events that are fun and non-intimidating for professional women of all ages. We work arduously to effectively conduct outreach to Latinas. Our marketing campaigns include an element of education, but they’re also fresh and exciting. We attract millennials, mid and senior management professionals, entrepreneurs and even retirees.

I’m extremely proud to be a member of the golf community. I’m committed to sharing this amazing game with as many women as possible. It has been a wonderful journey and I’ve learned so much.

One of my biggest takeaways is really quite simple and yet has powerful impact: It’s knowing that the golf community is exactly that – a community, a family. When we become golfers, we become members of a special international community whose common language is golf. That’s a pretty special thing and certainly worth sharing.

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