Meet Golf’s ‘Catalyst for Change’: Ira Molayo, PGA
By Abigail Kasitz
Ira Molayo, PGA, third from the left, during a PGA HOPE clinic at Cedar Crest Golf Course in Dallas, TX.Northern Texas PGA
The Northern Texas PGA Section’s newly elected Secretary is a Dallas native, and his passion for serving his community is his lasting legacy.
Growing up in southern Dallas, Molayo was introduced to the game by his mother at a young age. Though he played competitively as a kid, he eventually left golf behind when he went to Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to pursue his education. But he found his way back to golf in a more meaningful way.
Upon moving back to Dallas in 1999, Molayo missed the game. He reached out to childhood mentor and PGA Member Leonard Jones to re-engage, and it changed his life’s focus.
“I was waiting tables and bartending, and I asked if I could be a marshall or a starter at the golf course because I knew if I volunteered there I could get free golf. Leonard offered me his assistant position,” Molayo explained. “When I started working for him, I really saw a different side of golf. That was the first time I saw the business side.
“To me, he was a rockstar, and he looked like me. That made it seem more possible in my mind.”
That experience inspired Molayo to merge his two passions – golf and business. And he became inspired to become a PGA Member – just like Jones.
Molayo achieved that goal in 2007. He eventually started a management business, acquiring the contract to Cedar Crest Golf Course, a public facility in south Dallas that he grew up playing with his mother.
Cedar Crest was a little “dilapidated” when Molayo acquired it. He immediately worked to build it back up, and from that point, the focus was on utilizing the upgraded facility as a means for change in the community.
“It’s been an incredible journey from a kid that kind of grew up in the neighborhood playing golf at Cedar Crest to coming back as the golf pro and using it to be the catalyst for change here in Southern Dallas,” Molayo shared.
As a self-described golf promoter, he recognizes the impact the sport can have in a young person’s life. He’d gone through it himself.
So, in 2018, he founded the I Am A Golfer Foundation with three initial goals: provide junior golf instruction and tournament access, help kids pursue higher education and provide jobs through internships.
While golf is what the foundation is built on, Molayo’s philosophy goes beyond the course.
“Kids in our program would disappear when they were 15 or 16 because they had to go get a part-time job to contribute at home,” he said. “That’s the economics of their life. It's a huge piece of their upbringing. We needed a way to address that.”
So he created internship and scholarship opportunities through I Am A Golfer, which has allowed Molayo and his staff to mentor those recipients.
“We have a program that isn’t just golf. It’s helping kids,” he said. “Any kid that wants to do something positive and needs some help and support. We’re just using golf as a vehicle to do it.”
Over the last four years, between the I Am A Golfer Foundation and Cedar Crest, Ira has provided more than $60,000 worth of scholarships and employed over 50 interns. All of this on top of the instruction and daily grind of being a PGA Professional.
His pursuit is personal and deeply rooted in who he is.
“To see their eyes light up at the opportunity to go to school or just have some help with which direction to go has been really rewarding,” said Molayo. “To me that's what it's all about, because I was one of them.
“Right here in Southern Dallas. Right here at Cedar Crest. Their story is my story. So, I'm going to continue to do everything I can to try to help them to be successful. That's my role.”
If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a catalyst for change like Ira, visitpga.org/membership to learn how to become a PGA Member.