PGA CEO Joe Steranka Addresses Inaugural Glow Golf Forum on African-American Women, Diversity in the Golf Industry

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PGA of America

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Published: Tuesday, November 02, 2010 | 4:06 p.m.

To foster the growth of African-American female participation and diversity in the multi-billion dollar golf industry, the PGA Education Center, at PGA Village, in Port St. Lucie, Fla., played host to Glow Golf's inaugural forum and golf event entitled, "Rethink Your Possibilities: Breaking the Grass Ceiling," on Oct. 28-30. Designed to champion and increase participation in golf by African-American female professionals, the event featured a keynote address by PGA of America Chief Executive Officer Joe Steranka, on Oct. 29, to an audience of corporate executives, entrepreneurs and diversity experts.

Steranka stressed the importance of promoting diversity throughout the golf industry, especially in the areas of workforce hiring practices and supplier contracting. He also explained that spending by minorities is expected to rise to $3.4 trillion by 2013 – equal to 25 percent of the United States' buying power – and a projected increase of more than $1 trillion from 2008.

"You can't wait for diversity to change organically," explained Steranka, who pointed to the PGA Qualified Diverse Suppliers initiative, which was created to trigger minority participation in the game and business of golf. "You have to make an investment and commitment to diversity…the long-term ROI [return on investment] is well worth the efforts."

The event offered an array of topics ranging from golf instruction to supplier diversity in sports to social media in marketing for minority businesses, as well as rounds of golf at PGA Golf Club, instruction at the PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance and an onsite wellness center. Among the featured speakers were:

Glow Media CEO Cheryl Gentry; TV Personality Bevy Smith; American Values Institute Executive Director Alexis McGill Johnson; Executive Women's Golf Association CEO Pam Swenson, Wellness Interactive CEO and President Desiree Watson; and teenage golf sensation Zakiya "Z" Randall. In addition, New York State First Lady Michelle Paige Patterson forwarded a congratulatory note, in which she honored the launch of the innovative program.

"Our goal is to engage African-American women in sport and to raise awareness not only about the health benefits of golf, but also the business opportunities that are created on the greens," said Gentry. "Deals are not just made in the boardroom anymore, and I felt that it is important for women to recognize this potential platform for engaging new business and fostering relationships. The golf community has welcomed us with open arms. This is a major step forward in increasing the number of minority women who play the game and is the primary reason behind why Glow Golf was created."

"The PGA of America is proud to host the first-ever Glow Golf event at the PGA Village resort in order to promote the dynamic influence and growth of African-American female participation in the game of golf," said Earnie Ellison, Director, Business and Community Relations, The PGA of America. "We are delighted to help foster the expansion of diversity throughout the game in order to ensure that golf is embraced by people of all backgrounds, races, ethnicities and gender as a sport of inclusion for all."