Hally Leadbetter: How a passion for golf and entertainment has led to a fulfilling career
By By Charles Dillahunt
As the daughter of legendary PGA Member David Leadbetter, Hally Leadbetter has the game of golf in her blood. Yet, Hally was not a big fan of the sport, until she accepted her Dad’s invitation to join him on the course when she was 13-years old.
“For growing up in a golfing family, Hally showed absolutely no interest in the game–she would much rather have been riding horses than be on a golf course,” said David. “So, when she told us one day she wanted to play, we were shocked. With a lot of hard work, Hally made herself into a really good player.”
“I was tired of being left out of the dinner table discussions and started noticing that golf looked like it was really fun,” added Hally. “That’s when I decided to jump on the family bandwagon and pursue golf.”
Leadbetter had several misperceptions back then about the game that many beginners still share today.
“I knew from a young age that the game of golf was pretty hard, and I thought it would be boring if I wasn’t good right away,” she explained. “But then I realized you don’t have to be good to have fun. You can hit the ball a few times and then move on to the next hole.”
Of course, having a father who is a renowned PGA Professional and the 2017 PGA Teacher of the Year helped Hally see the game from a different perspective. David often shared advice to help her stay patient, as she developed her golf skills.
“My dad told me that as a golfer, you’re always on your own path to greatness, because golf is such a personal journey,” stated Hally. “If you get beat by 20 shots, it doesn’t necessarily mean you had a bad day. You could’ve scored a personal best and still have been beaten by that much. Golf is all about experience, and the more you have, the better you’ll be.”
Leadbetter’s personal journey with the game landed her a roster spot with a full ride scholarship to the University of Arkansas, and eventually, Rollins College—where she played on the women’s golf team, which won the 2016 NCAA Div. II National Championship during her senior year.
“I’ve always been focused on achieving goals, and that was the main reason why I loved golf,” stated Leadbetter. “I was able to set controllable goals—and see how they affected my scores. Positive goal setting made me a better golfer and person. We won the championship my senior year, as a result. Working so hard with my teammates toward a common goal and achieving it is something I’ll never forget.”
The Career of an Entertaining Golfer
After graduating from college, Leadbetter mixed golf with entertainment to jumpstart her career journey.
“My goal was always to get into the media space,” she said. “I did radio in college, and always had a passion for entertaining people. The goal has always been to combine my love of golf and media and turn it into a career.”
Getting a job right out of college can be tough, so Leadbetter spent hours every day reaching out to people via social media and LinkedIn.
“Networking has led to all of the amazing opportunities I‘ve had in the industry,” said Leadbetter. “I was cold calling and messaging people on LinkedIn. I even flew to New York once, just to get coffee with someone before I got my first job at Golf Digest. Young people should utilize networking as a way to not only create valuable connections for job opportunities but seeking out mentors that have careers that you admire. They can provide a fresh perspective and advice for your own career.”
One of those mentors, former Golf Digest Brand Editor Ashley Mayo, offered her a job.
“I was really drawn to Hally's energy and incredible desire to work in the golf media industry,” said Mayo. “I've always valued passion over experience, and Hally had a great deal of passion.”
It wasn’t long before others were seeking out her services, as well. The PGA TOUR offered Leadbetter a position as a digital producer. She traveled one-to-two weeks a month to TOUR events, where she made numerous connections within the industry, including one with Angela Garcia—who is now the co-host of their SiriusXM show, Garcia and Leadbetter Remixed. Angela is the wife of 2017 Masters Champion Sergio Garcia.
While at the PGA TOUR, Leadbetter continued to grow her knowledge of social media and improve her on-camera skills that eventually led to her being offered a new position back at Golf Digest, as the Associate Brand Editor.
While creating her own path in the golf industry, the meticulous, hardworking ethics Hally possesses resemble that of her father.
“I’m so proud of what Hally has achieved and continues to achieve in the world of golf–as a player, then with the PGA Tour and now with Golf Digest,” said David. “Her desire and drive have got her to where she is, and she is a great role model for young girls who take up the game, whether they want to play or work in the industry or both.”
Another part of the game Hally Leadbetter enjoys is that it teaches her more about who she is as a person.
“Golf showed me that I’m a hard worker and how to reach goals, so I was meticulous in making my practices meaningful,” said Leadbetter. “It helped me notice my tendencies that didn’t only happen on-course, but also in real life. It showed me how to overcome them in a way that not only fixed my golf game, but also my personal life.”
Leadbetter also shared some advice for women interested in entering golf’s workforce.
“If you’re passionate about golf, there will be a place for you in our industry, you just have to work to find it. Don’t be afraid if you get a few no’s…the yeses will come eventually."
You can follow Hally Leadbetter on Twitter @hallyleadbetter and on Instagram @hallylead. Her show, Garcia and Leadbetter Remixed, airs Mondays on SiriusXM from 8 p.m.–9 p.m. ET.
For more information on careers within the PGA of America, visit careers.pgahq.com.