Dr. Greta has a Ph.D. in Higher Education Research and spent years working within different industries. At the root of it all, she works for herself as a business entrepreneur and understands what it takes to build a successful business. That's how she got into teaching. As a competitive tennis player up until her thirties while also playing golf. People just assumed that since she taught tennis, she would also teach golf! Dr. Greta sees herself as a natural teacher in many different ways. She says that if she was passionate about something, she would always want to share it with others. She is an LPGA Class A professional and part of the LPGA Global Education Team.
Here is her story:
What is your current position in the golf industry?
My role in the industry is multifaceted and I view it as such a privilege that I get to touch some of everyone in the industry in many ways. As a golf professional, I have a local clientele and I'm fortunate to have a large and diverse clientele. I'm a teacher here in the metro Atlanta area but a big part of my role is in my service to the LPGA as an instructor. I serve on what's called the Global Education Team and we have professionals and candidates all around the world who are working toward earning their Class A teaching credential. And we know that's a lengthy process. So, I essentially serve as a teacher or a professor in that process. I get to help candidates work their way toward earning that credential so they can grow and build a great professional career. That's the first part of my role as a teacher within the LPGA.
And then, on the other end of the spectrum, I serve as the chair of the master professional committee. And so we know within both the LPGA and the PGA, the master professional credential is a very special and hard-earned status, the crème de la crème, you know. You can't just walk in there with three years of teaching and declare yourself to be a master professional. You spend quite some time as a credentialed Class A professional and have proved to be unique. There's a big project and some of them are very academic in nature, essentially a thesis or research project, and some of them are a capstone project, or some of them are writing a book. And so as the chair, I help the shepherding process for them because it's a very hands-on and individualized process. And that's a very big deal for our professionals who decided to go down that path. So, as you see, I get to touch the brand new, not even professionals yet, and those who are way down the path who have done a lot to contribute to golf. My role is pretty unique in that capacity.
When did you first get into golf?
I started playing golf as a kid and it was very casual. I didn't play any competitive golf as a junior or anything like that. But I always thought golf was cool. I was a tennis player and by the time I had clubs in my hand, I was already very immersed in junior tennis. I had been playing for quite some time and I was having some good success, and that's where my friends were, that's where my community was. And so, given the choice, I was a tennis player at that point.
How did you transition from tennis to golf? Do you still play tennis now?
I pick up a tennis racket about once a year just for the fun of it to just kind of work out the cobwebs. Tennis, I won't say it's my first love, because it's a different love, right? I mean, I was with it so much in my childhood and I absolutely adore the sport. But golf is my jam, as I like to say. The two were pretty equally mingled. I was still playing national and international level competitive tennis in my early 30s, but I was playing golf too. But when I had a pretty severe wrist injury, that was really when I kind of turned the corner. There are just too many reps, you know, in the course of a tennis match. You may hit a thousand balls, and my wrist would not allow for that. It put me in a place where golf was already kind of in fourth gear, if you will, that I just said, "You know, this must be where I'm supposed to be" because I enjoyed the sport. I was just playing, but I really felt like, "Wow. Golf is a place where I could really make a difference in a bunch of ways."
When did you know that you wanted to work in the golf industry?
I knew that I wanted to work in the golf industry when I saw all the potential for golf to just be the coolest thing ever. This is going to sound corny, but it was just kind of stuck in a way in spite of itself. Anybody in golf, when talking to clients about the type of thing golf is, it's one of those things that you're either in or out, right? It is resource intensive and if you're not into it, you're not into it. But if you're into it, you're all the way into it, right? So, that's what I saw. I said, "Man, this thing is the best." You can play it your whole life, you can play it as a kid, you can play it if you can't walk straight, if you can't see too well, if you can't hear; it's a sport for everyone. But it hasn't been treated as such. Boy, when you figure out that this can be for everyone, it's a win-win. It's a win for the manufacturers, it's a win for the teaching professionals, it's a win for the courses. It's a win for everyone when everybody figures out that it's just better if we all play.
Tell me a bit about your journey into the golf industry.
I am a serial entrepreneur. I've worked for myself for a while, it's hard to believe 20 years now. I was firmly entrenched in a manufacturing company that I own. I was happy to do my part in the industry but not working in an industry, if that makes sense. I was happy to volunteer, serve on committees, learn a little bit more, go to webinars, do all the things that I could. But what I realized and observed was that you really can't make a dent, and I shouldn't say can't, but I had not identified a way to make the dent or the impression that I was seeking to make by being an outsider, if you will.
Moreover, I was a good golfer and people would ask me, "Oh, do you teach?" because I taught tennis forever. People just assumed that if I was teaching one, I was teaching the other, but it really hadn't crossed my mind. Once I learned about how to work in golf, I was like, "Okay, this makes a lot of sense." As my mother has told me for years: "Greta, you are a natural teacher. Whatever it is that you are passionate about or become passionate about, have you not noticed that you become a teacher of it?" And then I began to look back at my life, whether it was statistics or bowling or tennis, you name it. She was right. If I was really into it, I wanted to share it with others.
What were some of the challenges you faced? How did you establish yourself as a teacher in the industry?
The good news is that having been a business owner and a business builder, I understood what it takes, behind the teaching, to have a successful teaching career. You're building a business. And so having done that a few times over now, I knew what the systems on the back end would look like. I won't say that I had an advantage, but I understood very clearly that you've got to make this simple for people. People are busy and you need to have a system that is equitable, that works well for them, and makes it easy for them to book with you.
My whole philosophy is that your time with me, whether it's a 30-minute lesson or a 45-minute lesson, or whatever the case may be, that time for many people is a getaway, right? When you come on our lesson tee, we're going to talk about the fun stuff. We're going to talk about golf, we're going to talk about the kids, the grandkids, the dog, the trip to Hawaii, whatever the case may be. I understood that you have to provide a cool experience.
For my career, I was in corporate America for quite some time and I worked in the hospitality industry. I did research to help luxury hotel companies and airlines provide better service because to charge someone $1,500 a night for a hotel room, it's not about the room, it's about the experience. So, I took some learnings from that. I try to create a great experience for people, and doing that allowed me to be successful in attracting people and building a good clientele.
But I also really, really, really love helping people get back into golf. I love teaching beginners. I'm not saying that all instructors don't, but some instructors just don't. And that's perfectly fine. I like to say that it's my job to help you fall in love with golf, because as we were just discussing a few minutes ago, golf is resource intensive. It's important we get people hooked, because if they're just kind of so-so about it, they'll go find something else to do. It's important to really help people see the bright side of golf and all that it can do for them, besides just hitting a white ball. This is where you can have great friendships, you can build relationships, you can conduct business, you know, so on and so forth. So, I tried to bring all that in and that's been really helpful.
I try to meet people where they are. You know, how you are is just fine. I'm not going to say come in after you've lost 35 pounds. No, there is a swing for everybody. There's a way to enjoy the sport for every person and I believe that wholeheartedly. And I really try to impart that and spread the word in that way.
What's the most rewarding part of your job?
It's funny, I was just talking to a friend of mine over the weekend and she was like, "So you're not competing?" We've known each other for decades and she knows that I'm fiercely competitive. I've always played a sport at a competitive level. I said that I love playing and I like keeping my skills sharpened, but I'm not so interested in my own awards or accolades anymore. I live vicariously through the successes of my students.
On Saturdays and Sundays, in particular, I am a nervous wreck because I'm like, "Oh my god, such and such is in the club championship" and I'm awaiting the text to find out. It's just the best feeling because they're working so hard and I'm there every step of the way. I love being that golf confidante and that friend that provides that support. And for me, that's just the name of the game, because that's how we're going to grow the game.
How do you think the golf industry benefits from having women like yourself in leadership positions?
I think that having women in leadership positions within the golf industry helps the industry to see the potential that golf has to be a better version of itself. I mean, there are technically more women than men walking the planet. Two, I never really understood, how does it serve the industry to be so monolithic? If we don't make golf more reflective of society, then it's going to continue to kind of stay closed off. And I think bringing in women is a great first step in helping to broaden that.
Also, in many households, women are the decision makers, right? What mom likes, the kids will do. I remember talking to a club owner about this, and he said, "Hey, we realized a long time ago that there may be more dads out here that play, but if we can get moms engaged and excited about what we have going on at the club, that translates into more memberships." If it's just something for dad, they can maybe reconsider the $400 a month or whatever the monthly fee is. But if it's someplace for the kids and mom and for everyone to enjoy, all of a sudden, it's an investment versus a cost.
How do you think we can get more women working in leadership positions?
Well, I'm a big believer in this for a variety of reasons: If you don't see it, you don't know that you can be it. As an African American female teaching professional, I can tell you, it happens a lot where African American little girls and even little boys go like, "I didn't even know that there were teachers for golf that look like you." And the great thing is when that happens, I love to say, "Well, and now that you have seen me, and that's what you want to do, you know that you can do it too, right?" It becomes second nature. My great hope is that these children, years from now, say something like, "This lady, she was really cool. I remember, she's really tall and she was the first black lady I saw and that changed the game for me, and it made me realize that I wanted to play golf." That's all I ask. We're planting seeds and getting people playing. That's the name of the game.
What are your future aspirations in the industry?
There's only so many hours in the day and you know, as humans, we can only be in one place at one time, at least right now, NASA hasn't told us otherwise. But I really am working and enjoying expanding my reach through the use of the digital platform.
You can check out her website here: drgretagolf.com
If you have any advice for young women starting out their careers in the golf industry, what would it be?
I would say jump in and become involved in the organization. Not all members are really active in the membership in your respective association. The association is built for the professionals and our growth, so get involved. And you'll be surprised how that will help you continue your learning and the development of your expertise, because, it's not static. It's not like you go to college and then you're done. It's quite the opposite. Changes in equipment and learning styles continues to happen. So, to be of good service to your clients, you need to be a good continuous learner. Getting involved will help you do that, and it also will help you build relationships. The biggest one I would say is understand that as a golf professional, you're also building a business. Even if you're an employee for a club or a course, you're still building a business, and you've got to understand that for sure.
Merchandise to support the Golfhers Scholarship Fund can be found here.
Thank you for the support!