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How She Does It! Jane Broderick, Director of Golf Operations at PGA National Resort and Spa
Here's a good golf story to begin the year with. It's about Jane Broderick, who is probably the top female PGA and LPGA professional with the most responsibility at any golf facility in the country.
[Editor's Note: In April 2011, Jane made history by becoming the first dual member of the PGA of America and LPGA to hold Master Professional titles in both organizations. For more, visit http://www.thegolfwire.com/stories/234847.]
Ask her how she attained such a high position in the industry as the Director of Golf Operations at PGA National Resort and Spa, and her typically modest answer is: "I work at an incredible facility with some of the best people in the industry." It's been a tough year for golf resorts and PGA National is doing well. It's not a stretch to say that Jane is one of its success factors.
Jane's job at PGA National is a big one! PGA National - located 20 minutes from the Palm Beach, Fla., airport, is one of the largest and busiest golf resorts in the U.S. The resort hosts the PGA Tour's Honda Classic on its outstanding Championship Course. (The Honda Classic comes to PGA National March 1-7 this year.) On a busy day in January at PGA National, about 1,000 golfers will head out to play on one of the resort's five courses. In 2008, over 140,000 rounds were played.
Jane has been a part of PGA National's golf operations for over 25 years. Beginning in 1986 with the job of moving golf carts and bags, she has held eight different increasingly important positions and currently holds the senior executive position of Director of Golf Operations. Recently she was honored with an invitation to join the PGA of America's President's Council for Growing the Game and was also named "Professional of the Year" by the LPGA Southeast Division.
I first met Jane in 1986, a few years after my husband and I purchased a home at PGA National and became golf members of the club. Because I am so impressed with her ability, I asked for a formal interview so that I could share her background and accomplishments with others. I am sure you will find her story amazing.
Q. Jane, let's start at the beginning. Where were you born and tell us a little bit about your family?
I was born in Johnstown, New York, which is located in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains approximately 40 miles northwest of Albany. My dad hails from Scotland and my mom was born and raised in Johnstown. My parents have been married 54 years. I am the middle child of three with an older brother, Jim, and a younger brother, Scot.
Q. How did you become interested in golf?
My earliest memory of golf is playing with my mom at a local par-3 when I was about eight years old. My mom learned to play golf as a young woman and she was pretty good. She and my dad golfed regularly when they were first married. But like many moms, just taking care of her family took up most of her time. While we were growing up, my mom played an occasional round at the local par-3 - usually dragging one of us in tow.
Q. So, would you say that your golf career began at eight as a junior golfer?
No. Not at all. I had no junior golf career. My first love was skiing, which I began at the age of two and then racing at the age of seven. In high school, in addition to skiing, I was on the tennis and track teams. Golf was really not a part of my life then.
I was very serious about skiing. After high school, I took time off from college to live and train in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I was ranked nationally and internationally in slalom, giant slalom and downhill. But, I realized that there were limited career opportunities as a skier and I didn't want to be a "ski-bum." So, I decided to head back to college - on the fast track.
Q. From ski slopes to golf fairways: How did that happen?
In 1985, during my last semester of college, my mom had a heart attack. To help her recovery, I decided she should get some more exercise. So, I suggested we play golf together. To my surprise, after a few rounds, I was hooked on golf.
I probably should add that my mom recovered quite well from her heart problems. She is now 80, is a breast cancer survivor and can still hit 200 yards off the tee.
Q. What led you to think about a career as a golf professional?
My mom knew of a good teaching professional, Pat Palmieri, who owned a nine-hole course near our home. I think that I was the only young girl he ever worked with and he really treated me like a daughter. Pat was the one who planted the seed that I should consider a career in golf. - maybe even on the Tour. Pat was the only person to assist me with my swing. The key to Pat's swing was tempo. And that is still the key to my swing. I've never been a long hitter, but I am usually consistent, and I developed a good practice ethic.
Q. And then what brought you down to PGA National?
In 1986, Pat suggested that I spend the winter in Florida and get a job at PGA National and see where it took me. PGA National was just a few years old then and was the new home of the PGA of America.
It wasn't easy getting a job at PGA. At the time, I had a passion for golf, but I did not have any experience at a golf facility on my resume.
Persistence is what made it happen. I had sent my resume to Bill Hobbs, who was the head professional. After repeated telephone calls and follow-up letters, I was not getting a response. So, I simply walked into the golf shop and asked to speak to Mr. Hobbs. He happened to be standing behind the counter, extended a hand and said, "I was just about to call you. When can you start?"
I simply jumped into the golf business with both feet. I decided to become a PGA professional. It had only been 10 years since the PGA had begun to admit women to their membership so I was one of very few women in the program. I passed the required Playing Ability Test and entered the PGA's Apprentice program. Four years later I was elected to membership. I also decided to become a LPGA Professional and became an LPGA member in 1994.
Q. Why did you go through both the PGA and LPGA certification programs?
I believed that both organizations were very credible in their own right and that the double certification would benefit me greatly. The PGA was my first choice because their education program on the business side of golf is outstanding. The LPGA is very good at teaching teachers how to teach, but especially at that time, did not focus a great deal on the business end of things. Working through both programs gave me the best education for all aspects of the business.
Q. Describe your typical day at PGA National?
Each and every day is different, given the type of activity we may have. As Director of Golf, I supervise over 100 employees, and I have a fair number of meetings and rely a great deal on the staff to carry the daily load. But my ideal day consists of an early arrival, checking in on the various areas: golf shop, outside ops, academy, range, and speaking to members and guests, and then to my office to complete behind the scene operational tasks - budgets, rates, tee-sheet management, program development, just to name a few.
Then out to support the staff wherever necessary. It's all about having a good team. We have a world-class group of staff members who work together well, have a great deal of passion and pride, and are some of the most talented people I have ever met. No challenge is too great and no detail is too small.
Q. What are your observations about the golf resort industry?
The resort business has had its peaks and valleys and always will. The 2000-2001 season was a very good one, but then we saw a downturn in our conference business as corporations were forced to cut back on expenses. We had to learn to adapt and to be responsive to the marketplace by attracting golfers with competitive rates and creating opportunities for ancillary spending. Fortunately, we have not been as affected by the economy as many other golf resorts. We have some great packages and promotions in the marketplace now and we are seeing a great response.
Q. PGA National is both a resort and a club for "members." How does that work out?
PGA National is a unique facility. We have a very strong and active membership. Our members are the backbone of the facility and the reason we are as successful as we are.
For years we were known as a resort with a membership, but we have turned the tide to being known as a private club with resort amenities. We have 1,160 full golf memberships that equates to approximately 2,000 golfing members. That is our focus; that is the strength of PGA National. In this down economy, we continue to sell memberships in all categories: full Golf, Social, Sports.
Q. The PGA Tour's Honda Classic must be good for business. What's your role in that?
Having the tour players on site is a great compliment to us and we feel very lucky to be part of it. In addition, we play host to the various pro-ams associated with the Honda, all the corporate sponsor play, and for the last two years have hosted the PGA Tour Wives event that is their largest annual fund-raiser. But, it is challenging for us because, at the same time, we keep our other four courses in full operation along with all of our practice facilities for our members.
It's a 100-plus-hour work week for key golf staff folks, but it's worth every minute of lost sleep. We enjoy it immensely. This coming tournament - March 1 through March 7 - will be very special because last year's Honda Classic winner, Y.E.Yang, recently won the prestigious PGA Championship. Having the defending champion of the Honda also be a major championship winner can only bolster the already awesome field.
Q. PGA has outstanding programs for two segments that many facilities find hard to attract: Women and juniors. How do you explain your success in those segments?
Making golf attractive for women and juniors is all about making them feel welcome and offering opportunities for them to learn in a non-threatening environment. One of our most successful programs for women is our Girls, Giggles and Golf. It is comprised of a 30-minute clinic, three to four holes of golf, and wine and cheese. We charge $15 and seek to attract non-golfing members in an attempt to get them to enter the game. We had hoped to have 10-12 on a weekly basis, and we've had a steady 30-40 attendees each week. It's a very social, fun environment, and the ladies love it.
Our junior program has always been successful, and even with a complete overhaul this summer, we've seen the success increase. Through our David Leadbetter Golf Academy, we now offer a two-tiered program: One for the serious, aspiring golfer (championship tees) and one for the younger kids or those just taking up the game (forward tees). Along with enrollment in either program, the kids receive a summer membership giving them access to play every day.
Q. You have recently won some major honors. It's okay to brag a little.
Being named to the PGA of American's President's Council on Growing the Game is truly an honor. The PGA President's Council on Growing the Game is a tremendous source of pride and strength for the PGA of America. The designation identifies and recognizes PGA members who are leaders in promoting player development programs at their facility. I also received the LPGA "Professional of the Year" award for the Southeast Section. But the honors are really made possible because of the fact that I work at a tremendous facility, I work for a tremendous general manager, Joel Paige, and outstanding owners, and we have a team of very dedicated professionals always willing to put forth 110%.
Q. I know you are always focused on the next step. What's on your agenda now?
My main area of interest to increase my knowledge is working through some online agronomy courses. I know a fair amount about golf course maintenance, but I'd like to expand that knowledge moving forward. Golf professionals and superintendents are diametrically opposed. By that I mean, the professional wants to put people on the course and the superintendent inherently wants the course empty to grow grass and do the required work. Having a better understanding of what needs to take place to keep courses in great condition will help me balance both objectives.
Q. When you are not working or golfing, what do you like to do?
When I am not working, I enjoy physical fitness. My newest challenge is Boot Camp workouts over at our fitness center with Ken McDonald. And I like biking, stand-up paddle boarding (a surf board on steroids that you stand on and with a long paddle, paddle it like a canoe) snow skiing (of course) and house projects . . . laying wood floors, tile, painting. It may take me more than one trip to Home Depot, but I can get it done.
Golf? Yes. Golf on a Sunday afternoon is routinely on the agenda. I usually play off-site for a bit of busman's holiday. It also gives me the opportunity to see how other clubs operate and to make sure that PGA National remains a top golf resort.
Q. What accomplishments stand out as you look back on your career at PGA?
I've mentioned my awards and the business side. But I want to answer this on a personal level. My greatest accomplishment is my son, Will, who is eight and thinks he is a cross between Tiger Woods, Brett Favre and the lead singer for a rock band.
My parents were and are tremendous role models, not only for my brothers and I to look up to when we were young, but for us now that we are parents ourselves. They set the bar very high for me as a parent, and I try my best every day to be a good mom, and I often find myself comparing myself as a parent to my parents. I want Will to do great things and have great things, but more importantly, I want him to know what a hard days work is, to be respectful, compassionate, well mannered, and to be appreciative.
Q. If Will told you he wants to be a golf professional what would you say?
If Will told me he wants to be a golf professional I would tell him it's a great deal of work, but it can be very rewarding and an awful lot of fun. I remind Will on a regular basis that he can be whatever he sets out to be, but no matter what that is, to be the best, you have to work harder than anyone else.
Nancy's Update on Women in Professional Golf
In my opinion, Jane is part of a small group of female PGA professionals (many have LPGA certification also) that could be tapped to join the top ranks of the PGA of America. Shamefully, for many years, no women served on the PGA of America's Board of Directors - the governing body of the PGA.
But, there are some signs of change. Recently, Suzy Whaley became the second women to join the Board. Suzy was elected from her Connecticut PGA division - quite an honor in itself since she was elected from the 141-member (mostly male) Connecticut division. Suzy joins Sue Fiscoe on the Board. Sue is from Modesto, Calif., and was elected from her PGA Division.
To put this in more context: The PGA Board of Directors is composed of the association's President, Vice President, Secretary, Honorary President and 17 Directors. The directors include representatives from each of the PGA's 14 Districts, two Independent Directors and a Player Director of the PGA Tour. With Suzy and Sue on the Board, there are now two women out of the 17 positions. More context: There are about 900 female PGA Professionals out the 27,000 PGA Professionals.
As I have commented in other articles, the PGA of America professionals are the gatekeepers of the game. They let people in to the golf courses; they are the welcoming committee - if there is one. Maybe the PGA is coming to realize that they can't grow the game with player programs like "Get Golf Ready" without growing the game with more women professionals at all ranks in their organization. And maybe the PGA will also realize that their training and apprentice programs need to include specific training about specific segments like women golfers.
Nancy Berkley, President of Berkley Golf Consulting, is a regular contributor to Cybergolf and an expert on women's golf. Her book, "Women Welcome Here! A Guide to Growing Women's Golf," published by the National Golf Foundation, is an industry reference source for marketing golf to women. She is a resource for golf-industry trends and marketing advice on her website www.nancyberkley.com. She chaired a panel at the World Scientific Congress of Golf in Phoenix, Ariz., in March 2008, and was a guest speaker at the Northern California Business Women's Conference at Poppyridge Golf Course in Livermore, Calif., in June 2008. Nancy also consults with golf facilities on how to attract more women golfers and families to the game. She was a contributing editor of Golf for Women magazine and is the Chair of the Advisory Board of Golfer Girl Magazine, where she also writes a series about careers in the golf industry. Her articles also appear on www.ladiesgolfjourney.com. Nancy provides a Free Help Line on her website for those seeking marketing advice in the golf industry.
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