HARRISON, N.Y. -- PGA Secretary Suzy Whaley didn't come to Westchester Country Club for the KPMG Women's PGA Championship expecting to play this week.
But, plans change.
On Saturday, after an odd number of players made the 36-hole cut, there was a need for a "marker" -- a person who plays alongside the player with the morning's first tee time to help with pace of play.
Whaley -- who competed in the KPMG Women's PGA Championship from 2003-2005 -- got the call for both Saturday and Sunday morning.
"It's been such an incredible week for us," said Whaley, the PGA's first woman secretary. "KPMG kicked it off with the Women's Leadership Summit, which I attended with my daughter. It was so inspiring. I took pages and pages of notes. That really got us going in an incredible direction and really a celebratory atmosphere for the empowerment of women on course and in the boardroom.
"Then, to get a call this week asking, 'can you be a marker?' -- you don't think the week can get much better," she said. "Here we are on a championship golf course, women being showcased on network television, the PGA of America being involved of which I'm a member, the LPGA being involved of which I'm a member of the LPGA T&CP -- for me, the fact that we're highlighting the best athletes as a part of our association and our strategic mission to get more women to play the game and then to be invited to play inside the ropes again? I've got to be honest, I don't know how you top that. It was just a fantastic week."
Well, it was topped for Whaley on Sunday morning. Her daughter, Jen, tagged along as her caddie.
"Maybe the only way to top it would have been to actually be in the field with my daughter on the bag," she said. "But, I'll take playing as a marker with her on the bag. With Jen on the bag today -- for a mom, that's a moment in time where you want to take about a thousand pictures."
Whaley said Sunday's round took roughly three hours. She played well, but felt there's still work to do on her game -- no golfer, no matter the ability, is ever 100 percent pleased with where their game is at.
"It was such a special three hours and something that was just so special to share," Whaley said. "I had the opportunity to share the Leadership Summit with her and then she got to walk inside the ropes with me at a major championship. She's also a competitive golfer. The one-on-one time, how proud you are of your kids, sometimes you're lucky enough to share an experience with them that they might otherwise never have. To be able to do that for her today and give that to her -- and what she gave to me, more than vice versa -- was something I'll never forget.
The cherry on top of this whole experience for Whaley -- aside from having Jen on the bag -- was that since she lives in the Hartford area, this was somewhat of a home game. A small group of family, friends and even students, came out to watch her play.
Whaley got a kick out of her younger students, who said, "Gosh, Coach Suzy, I didn't even realize you played!"
"They know me as Coach Suzy and they don't see me as a Tour player," she said. "Or a secretary of an Association. I'm just Coach Suzy. It was neat to share that with them."
The theme of the entire week here in Westchester was to not only elevate a tournament, but to set the tone for the empowerment of women on and off the golf course.
Whaley has been an inspiration to many already. Along with being the PGA's first female officer, Whaley also qualified to play in the 2003 Greater Hartford Open on the PGA Tour.
"I didn't do it by myself," she said. "I had mentors and role models that I aspired to be like. If I can do that for somebody coming behind me, I feel like that's our job. Our job is to pull somebody along. I heard a great quote the other day, 'We have two arms. We have one arm to pull ourselves up and our other arm is to take another woman with us and pull them along too.' That's part of who I am and what I believe all of us need to do to grow the game, invite women to come play the game, to not fear ability. Let us help you. Let us manage the course for you. Let us get you out here. We're going to give you the tools to do it. I feel that way about my role. I have people surrounding me at the PGA of America that are helping me get better. I don't plan on doing it by myself. I love that support system, so I hope that some day, somebody will walk up to me and say, 'You know, I'm the secretary of the PGA of America because you did it first and I knew I could do it now too.' If that's the case, then fantastic."