Leaderboard – Kathy Swanson

By Libby Mehaffey

Kathy Swanson started playing golf in her twenties just after finishing college and she hasn’t looked back since. Despite being considered a late bloomer (in the golf industry at least), from her resume you’d think she was born on the course.

“I was working as the head of security at the Carlton Celebrity Theater – if you can remember back that far – so I worked from 2 or 3 in the afternoon until 1 or 2 in the morning,” said Swanson. “During the day I started playing in the ladies league with my mom and that’s how it all started.”

Fast off the starting gate, Kathy became a pro just one year later, moved to Palm Springs and got a job working for a golf director with roots in the Midwest. “I didn’t know anyone and was going door to door with really no qualifications,” laughed Kathy. “Then I met Ron (from Hayward, Wisconsin), he said a Midwestern work-ethic was good enough for him. He hired me on the spot!”

Apparently, Ron made a good hire. For three summers Kathy worked for Ron in Palm Springs during the winter months and at Deer Run in Chanhassen during Minnesota summers. Once settled back in Minnesota full-time, Kathy became involved in the local golf scene on and off the course. Today, Kathy serves as the President of the Minnesota Section of the PGA and is known as one the most influential women on the Minnesota golf scene.

Since getting involved with the Minnesota Section of the PGA Kathy has served on committees and board positions for well over a decade. “I started off on the Junior Golf Committee and have been dedicated to growing the game ever since – especially among juniors,” said Swanson. “I just love the game, I really do and that passion has kept me going from the start.”

Her passion for growing the game has paid off. The MN Section is known for having one of the top junior programs in the nation. In 2007, the Section had over 1600 kids enrolled in one of four programs teaching kids from ages 8 to 18 about the game and the tradition of golf.

“I look at the game of golf, especially golf for women and juniors, with so much opportunity,” said Swanson. “With four junior programs we (the MN Section of the PGA) all work really hard to make golf fun for kids – from just learning the game in the Beginners Program to participating in elite, invitational tournament play on the Players Tour.”

Kathy’s efforts don’t stop at junior golf. She’s working to help grow the game across all ages in Minnesota through a new week-long celebration supported in part by the Minnesota Section of the PGA and the Minnesota Golf Association called Play Golf Minnesota. “Play Golf Minnesota is meant to be the state’s big golf kick-off,” said Swanson. “We have a fishing opener and a hunting opener – we need a golf opener!”

This year will be the second annual Play Golf Minnesota Week complete with seven days of exciting opportunities to start your spring and kick off the 2008 golf season. For more information about the event be sure to visit playgolfminnesota.com.

“Last year we had a free girls golf clinic at Rush Creek with over 200 girls!” said Swanson. “I remember watching them walk up to the clubhouse in saddle shoes – many of them already were wearing their golf gloves and I was thinking to myself – this is what it’s all about.” This year, Rush Creek will once again host the free clinic on Saturday, May 3rd. “We’re hoping for 300 girls this year!”

No doubt Kathy’s work ethic, optimism and outstanding attitude have combined to make an effective leader and strong visionary for the game of golf in Minnesota. Outside of her volunteer position as the President of the Minnesota Section of the PGA, Kathy works as the Director of Instruction at the Minneapolis Golf Club (which she absolutely loves). Kathy resides in Cambridge with her husband Jon, son Matthew and daughter Lauryn.

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