Game Changers

As the First Asian American PGA WORKS Fellow, Mia Hayasaki is Trying to Make Golf Look a Little More Like the World

By Hayden Lewis, PGA
Published on

As a previous Sunny Harris Hutchison PGA WORKS Fellow for the Carolinas Section, Mia Hayasaki embodies what it means to live out new opportunities in the game of golf.  
Now as a full-time member of the Carolinas PGA Section staff as the PGA REACH Coordinator, she’s taking her career path to a whole new level and living out a dream she didn’t think was possible – all through the game of golf.  
Introduced to the game by way of her father, Mia grew up enjoying rounds at a nearby par-3 course and also playing in local tournaments.  Mia is proud of her father’s legacy and what he’s accomplished since immigrating from Japan.  
Originally from Illinois, Mia attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to pursue a degree in psychology.  She admits that golf fell to the wayside during her time in college.  Little did she know golf would come full-circle back into her life – let alone offer a career path.  
This is where we pick up the conversation with Mia as the celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month comes to a close this May. 

You’re one of the first Asian-American PGA WORKS Fellows.  Talk about what that means to you.
Mia Hayasaki:  Wow! That is really neat to hear. This means a lot to me as I think of my father and the things he accomplished as an immigrant coming from Japan. He traveled to the United States all by himself at a very young age and made a name for himself. Now, I get to say that I am one of the first … that feels like a great privilege.
How do you feel like you are changing the golf industry?
Hayasaki:  I believe I am making a small impact, which is a part of a bigger picture. I have the ability to grow the game and provide golf to those who may not otherwise have access, which is an incredible feeling. I recently attended the inaugural Paraison Invitational - Diversity In Sports Forum which had an amazing group of panelists. One individual from the audience, however, made an important point — diversity does not just happen within the workforce. You have to be intentional about who you hire and who you offer opportunities to. This year was my first time hiring our PGA WORKS Fellows. I believe the individuals we are bringing into this field will make great contributions to the golf industry.
Do you feel like PGA WORKS is changing golf?  How so?
Hayasaki: Yes. My fellowship class included a diverse group of individuals, many of whom did not come from golf backgrounds. I am proud to see and hear that many have now been promoted to full time roles within their Sections or other golf organizations. PGA WORKS is providing the opportunities and experiences we might otherwise have been unable to obtain. 
Now that you are full time with the Carolinas PGA Section, how are you taking what you learned in your Fellowship and applying it to your current role?
Hayasaki:  I am thrilled to go into another year with the Carolinas PGA Section. My first year was a learning opportunity of seeing how things run and, now, I am able to apply my knowledge and run with it to grow our PGA REACH Foundation.
What comes to mind when you think of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month?
Hayasaki:  I think of hard-working Asian Americans, especially my father and siblings. They have many accomplishments and have been great role models for me growing up. My father, Yoshi Hayasaki, served as the University of Illinois Men’s Gymnastics Coach for 33 seasons, and won an NCAA title, multiple Big Ten Titles and Coach of the Year Honors. He has also coached numerous Olympians. My sister, Erika, is a writer who has published multiple stories and two books. She is currently an associate professor in the Literary Journalism Program at the University of California, Irvine. My brother, Casey, has had some really neat jobs and is currently the Director of Spaceport Operations for SpaceX. 

Diversity does not just happen within the workforce. You have to be intentional about who you hire and who you offer opportunities to.

Mia Hayasaki
How do you feel the next generation of women in sports or in the golf industry need to prepare themselves for a successful career?
Hayasaki:  The best advice I can give for the future generation of women in sports is to be yourself, make meaningful connections, and be open to any and all opportunities. I recently had the privilege of serving as the Section lead for the Carolinas PGA at the 2023 PGA HOPE Secretary’s Cup. I left this event feeling very thankful for all the people I had met and connected with. At no point in my life did I think I would be surrounded by military Veterans from across the country, but it was an experience I will treasure for the rest of my career. 
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
Hayasaki:  Growing up, I never thought of golf as a future profession, I only saw it as a fun game to be played. Now with PGA WORKS, my eyes have been opened to an abundance of careers within the golf industry. In 5-10 years, I see myself staying within golf, hopefully making a larger impact at the national level.
How do you define success – whether in your personal or professional life?  Or is it the same answer for both?
Hayasaki:  I define success for both my personal and professional life by how content I am. When I make a great connection with an individual or coordinate a successful event, or learn from my mistakes and improve for the next time, I am happy with my efforts.