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"We have to mentor each other." -Monique Thoresz, The Apawamis Club

Although this was a second career for Monique, she has been in the industry for a long time and has a passion for teaching juniors. She recognizes that the golf industry can be tough, but if you love people and what you do, it's a home. Monique is passionate about the importance of finding a mentor and women supporting each other throughout the industry and offers great advice for women just starting out.

Here is her story:

What is your current position in the golf industry?

I'm the Director of Instruction at a place called The Apawamis Club in Rye, New York. This is my 10th season, my ninth full-time season and one part-time.

How did you get into the golf industry?

I had a little bit of an interesting career. This is sort of a second career for me, although the other one was much shorter. I went to law school, came out, practiced law for six years and then turned professional and got into the golf business. Basically, when I decided to make the switch, I worked at a 36-hole facility in Texas, which is now a 54-hole facility, where I kind of learned the ropes. I worked as most golf pros do behind the counter a lot, did a lot of grunt work and kind of tried to figure out if this was going to be a career that I wanted to pursue.

Then I moved back up to New York, where I'm originally from, and got a job working for Michael Breed and worked for him at Sunningdale for a couple of years. And from there, I moved on to Westchester Country Club in Rye and worked there for eight years. My first year, I was an assistant professional and then moved on to the senior teaching staff and worked there until the opportunity at Apawamis came up and I've been doing that ever since. I basically direct all the adult and junior programming and write all the curriculum.

When did you first get introduced to golf?

Golf was a little bit later for me. I played all sports and I first got introduced to golf in college. I did it sort of sporadically and then kind of fell in love with the game. I wonder what would have happened if I had been introduced to golf at a younger age. It was kind of a small town where I grew up and I didn't know anything about golf. I didn't know anybody who played golf. I'd never heard of golf before so I just did all the other sports. And maybe that's why I'm so passionate about teaching kids. It's always been a big part of my professional life. I just think if we can expose kids to golf at a young age and give them a little experience in it, then who knows?

What is the most rewarding part of you job?

I think if I had to pick juniors or adults for the rest of my career, I'd probably pick juniors. But I mean, I love teaching adults too. So, I think the most rewarding part is making the connection with people and seeing what makes them tick. And then finding how golf can fit into that. So if someone can experience some success, whether that's getting the ball in the air for the first time or hitting a certain shot shape, meeting them at whatever level they're at is important. But to me, it's the human connection. I think that's why we all do what we do. If you don't love people, you're in the wrong business.

What challenges do you face in the industry?

I think there's so many challenges, but probably the biggest one around here is time. Golf is hard and it's not something you can take an eight week class and be like, "Okay, I started at zero and now, eight weeks later, I'm great." We all have Amazon Prime, right? We want stuff shipped to us in two days. I think that it's hard for golf because it's more of a long term commitment. But, you know, people don't have time. Tennis is popular because you get a little cardio workout and you'd be done in an hour. Golf is not like that.

In terms of challenges in the golf business, there's like a bazillion. You know, it's a hard business and to some extent shrinking. We work holidays, we work weekends, we work six or seven days a week and it doesn't stop in the winter like it used to. This is 12-month job. And with phones and iPads, it's 24/7. You can't go two days without reading your email. So, I think professionally, there are a lot of challenges as well. But you know, again, if you do love people, and if you love the game, there's kind of no other way, right?

How do you think the golf industry benefits from having women in leadership positions?

We all want to model people that are like us, right? So, it's super, super, important to have people that look like you. For a long time, it's been mostly men, mostly white, and they're great golf professionals but that isn't representative of the society, the world, or the country. So, if we can show newer golfers or we can show club members that there are other people, women, people of color, that's huge.

We do a free girls clinic in the Met Section every year for one day and we get like 100 girls and we recruit 16 or 17 golf pros. There are definitely some men that help us, which is fantastic. But I would say they make up two or three pros out of that 16 or 17. It's so important for the girls to see that because if you don't ever see anybody like yourself, you just think it's for other people. So it's huge.

We need more female professionals. And I don't know what the answer to that is because PGM schools are shrinking and the number of female candidates are shrinking. And hiring female interns is hard. And if we don't have female interns and we don't have female assistants, then nobody's moving up the ladder. The LPGA has got it down, right? That's certainly a great organization and I think they do really good work. I think as far as the PGA is concerned, we've got a lot of work to do.

If you had to come up with an idea to get more women working in the golf industry or going through the PGM program, what would it be?

I think it's not enough to just open our doors and say, "Yay, we should have more women members." I think there has to be active recruiting in high schools and colleges. I read this article, I think it was last year, and it's about a woman who worked in a bank and they were trying to increase diversity. She described a little bit about what they had done to do that and it wasn't a passive thing like, "Gee, I hope we get more women to work in this bank." Instead, they had to go out and really recruit hard. I just think it has to be much more proactive on the PGA's part.

If you had any words of inspiration or advice for women going into the golf industry, what would it be?

First of all, I think you have to embrace the PGA as an organization. I mean, the LPGA is fantastic. But I think if you're going to break into the system, I think you've got to have a PGA membership. And, you know, find your own path and be aggressive about finding mentors. Things like what you're doing here and what Susan Bond is doing with the PGA magazine women's leadership program is huge. We have to mentor each other. We have to take younger professionals under our wing and if you're a younger professional, go out and find someone who's going to help you. And if it's not your boss at your facility, because you don't think that they're supportive enough, go out and find somebody else.

Monique also participated in our video for International Women's Day. Here is her advice below!

Thank you Monique for sharing your story! If you want to follow Monique, she is on Instagram (@moniquethoresz_golf) and Facebook (@MoniqueThoreszGolfInstruction).

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