Azucena Maldonado carries golf to Latina women through Latina Golfers Association

By
PGA of America

Series: PGA

Maldonado, who is helping to expose the game to the next generation of women, began a Latina Golfers Association in Southern California, and is in the midst of beginning an LGA chapter in Houston, Texas.

Azucena Maldonado is a relatively new golfer, having only first picked up a club eight years ago at the prompting of someone she was dating. During the three years of their relationship, Maldonado's love of the game grew as she spent at least three days a week on the course learning and improving her game. Since then, she's shared her love of the game of golf with Latina women in California and across the nation through the Latina Golfers Association (LGA).

Maldonado began participating in charity golf tournaments, but noticed few women and even fewer Latinas taking advantage of the benefits of the game of golf. As she saw men having a great time and taking advantage of networking opportunities, she thought to herself, "Women are missing out!"

And that's where the LGA all began. Maldonado let some friends know that she would be at the range on Tuesday nights if they wanted to join her. As more and more women came out, a local Latino magazine asked to do a feature on her weekly gathering. In the story, she boldly stated that she was starting a Latina Golfers Association. The response was shocking. More than 100 women came out for the kickoff event, the majority of whom had never even picked up a club before.

The following year, she was partnering with courses in the Los Angeles area to host golf clinics that would make Latina women feel that golf is doable, inviting and fun. The LGA mission statement was created out of these clinics: "The mission of the LGA is to introduce women to golf for their professional development, personal enjoyment and to promote a healthy lifestyle." To date, more than 700 women have attended LGA clinics. Maldonado's goal is to grow the game through the LGA and introduce golf to more women, young and old.

To help carry the game to the next generation of women, the LGA "adopted" the girl's golf team of Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School in Los Angeles. The LGA raises money for the team members to buy clothes, shoes, clubs and anything else they need to improve their game. Taking the program a step further, this year's LGA members serve as mentors to the girl's team, taking them to courses to practice and paying for their on-course experiences.

"Golf is essential in developing self-confidence and opening doors for these girls that they can't even imagine," said Maldonado. "Growing up in a disadvantaged household can result in low self esteem, but golf puts them on equal footing with their peers. It's incredibly powerful."

Maldonado has big plans for expanding the LGA in the future. She is in the midst of beginning an LGA chapter in Houston, Texas, and sharing her story at Latina and women's conferences nationwide. The growth isn't only in terms of location. Maldonado is also looking for more ways to connect first-time golfers who attend clinics to the game for a lifetime. In addition to clinics, she's continually adding on-course playing experiences and encouraging clinic attendees to consider lessons. Another element of expansion comes with adding families to the mix.

"If women golf, they'll get their families to golf. The woman is the key to growing the game of golf in families," Maldonado shared.

On May 22, the LGA hosted its first family golf clinic with The First Tee of Los Angeles, inviting parents, children, grandparents and aunts and uncles to experience the game of golf together. The event had such a positive impact that Maldonado hopes to add more opportunities to include families on the course.

"I am so grateful to the Southern California PGA Section board and staff members, including Jason Taylor, Nikki Gatch and Tom Addis III, for introducing me to The PGA of America and the Lorena Ochoa Foundation. I look forward to partnering with them on future projects to promote golf in the Latino community," Maldonado added. "They have all been very supportive of the Latina Golfers Association. I love that they're so open to discussing new and fresh ideas about introducing Latinas to the game of golf. They've made me feel very welcome and unintimidated by the PGA world."


Comments

robert_44

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Jason Taylor

The Latina Golfers Association and Azucena are two of the best things happening in golf today. Golfers have always known the benefits of golf are far more than the fun of hitting it close or sinking a long putt. Those benifits, so clearly stated in LGA's Mission Statement, are for everyone and LGA is spreading the word.

seanlanyi

Azucena is great for the game of golf and wonderful for the Latina Golfer's Association. She hired me to run instructional clinics for her group of ladies in the Southern California, Orange County area and have enjoyed working with such a fun group of ladies. Thanks to Azucena for her committment, inspiration and absolute dedication! Hope to have our next clinic at Black Gold Golf Club right down the road! All the best, Sean Lanyi

celia.brugman

I am so excited about LGA. I would have never entered a golf course without Azucena's help. She is such a great ambassador for the sport becuase she undurstands our obstacles and helps us overcome them. Her enthusiasm for the sport is contagious. There are so many more Latinas we need to reach out to. Sponsors and businesses should soon realize how much they can benefit from supporting LGA!!!!! Somos muchas!!!!!!!!!

lfgarcia

It has been a pleasure to participate in the monthly LGA events and to watch LGA grow. Azucena is right when she states that women are the secret to growing golf! Especially in the Latino/a community. Mama is the heart of the family, the bearer of culture, language, and beliefs. If women take the lead, golf will grow.

LGA is open and welcoming to all, even to those of us who are not of the correct gender. :) If your interested in having fun and developing as a golfer, join the LGA at one of the sponsored events. You'll be pleasantly surprised.

One comment on Azucena - she is highly committed to the helping others and is one of the best individuals I have had the pleasure of meeting.

merida

I am a proud founding member of the Latina Golfers Association. I believed in the idea of the LGA from its inception. I knew Latinas would enjoy this wonderful game and embrace the benefits of golf's social and professional networking. But - Azucena Maldonado has taken the idea and surpassed my expectations! To be on the driving range with LGA's young Latina golfers and watch their commitment is a joy. Playing a round with a foursome of Latinas is a great experience. Often, each a different level, but all of them understanding that golf is a game that you play against yourself - to challenge yourself, The golf pros that lend their support for the LGA's golf clinics are terrific. They are kind-hearted and patient as they teach some of us who didn't know a green from a divot. All this was created by one woman who looked around a golf course and knew that the game belongs to everyone brave enough to pull out a driver on the first tee! Azucena gave the gift of bravery to Latinas - and for that Latina golfers around the globe will always be grateful. Fore!

gildapettit

I am so proud to be an LGA member. I joined about a year ago and with the clinics and outings that Azucena has organized I have been able to play golf with colleagues and clients. I signed up to become a mentor for one of the Roosevelt High golf team members because I believe in Azucena’s mission and I think that many more women can benefit in so many different levels (personal, professional.. etc). THANK YOU AZUCENA!!! And thank you PGA for the wonderful article.

golfgoddess10

I was introduced to Azucena and the LGA a few months after I had taken golf lessons, but had yet to get out on a course. Thanks to the ever energetic Azucena, I attended the clinics and met other women learning the sport. It gave me the courage to get out on the course again and again. Two years later, my love for the game has grown, to the extent where I have played in charity tournaments-I never would have imagined! Thank you, Azucena for tirelessly working to promote this game and encouraging Latinas and all women to get out and play. I am lucky to call you a friend. Thank you to the PGA for highlighting Azucena and the LGA, this is an encouragement, for not only us, but for women everywhere to break barriers and get into golf!

ncabrera2737

Azucena has been priceless! I have only been golfing for a mere 4 years and was introduced to the LGA 2 years ago. The LGA has been a wonderful part of this great game. I have also had the great pleasure of meeting and being involved with the Lorena Ochoa Foundation. Being part of the LGA has allowed me to introduce the game to my young Latina cousins, be confident enough to play with the avid men golfers of my company and to give back by mentoring the lovely girls at Roosevelt High School. A very special Thank you to Azucena & the LGA and to Jason Taylor for the awesome opportunities that you both have presented me through the game of golf!

juliebaez77

Azu & all the ladies are inspiring, encouraging & always make u feel comfortable no matter your level of experience in the game. What a great group!

marsharramos

I was lucky to attend the kickoff event, and continue to be involved in a great network of professionals having fun playing golf. Azucena has demonstrated exemplary leadership in bringing her vision for latina women to reality. She continues to inspire all of us! For her selfless efforts, dedication to golf and her community I will be ever grateful.
Thank-you PGA for this feature article and all who have worked together to promote the mission of LGA.