Game Changers

PGA of America's Molly Gallatin Exemplifies 'Being Your Authentic Self'

By Athlete Ally
Published on

Editor's Note: This story was originally published on on June 20, 2019
Molly Gallatin is the Senior Director of Brand and Content Strategy at the PGA of America. A proud member of the LGBT community, Gallatin hopes to inspire other LGBTQ+ business professionals in the golf industry workforce to also feel comfortable in their own skin.

What role have sports played in your life?
Growing up, I played just about every sport possible, but focused mainly on soccer, basketball, baseball and softball. I was the only girl who played in the all-boys Little League, and when each player was handed a trophy at the end of the season, mine was the only one to feature a girl in shorts and a tank top. That’s when I decided I wanted to change the way women are valued in sports.

After college, I started working for my hometown baseball team, the Minnesota Twins, in their Baseball Communications Department. For over 10 years, I had various roles within that department and was able to combine my love of sports with my love of creativity, by managing their publications, photography and media services.

Sports have always been my way to explore the world, while also interacting and bonding with people. Being a part of a sports community unites people in an extraordinary way. It’s played such a huge role in my life thus far, and I hope it always will.

What do you love most about the game of golf and the golfing community?
Golf is such a global game and a sport you can play it throughout your life. I also love how accessible it is — you don’t need an expert skill level to just get out there and play.

The golf industry is changing, and that’s why I wanted to be a part of it. For so long, most of the people who were in the game looked and grew up the same way. As a result, they had the same ideas and that limited who their audience was. As golf continues to grow and evolve, it’s important to acknowledge that there are many people the industry has not meaningfully included for far too long. We need to get a little closer to mirroring America, and no longer unintentionally isolate certain groups and individuals. I’m excited to have this unique opportunity to make a difference in my career.

What does “Pride” mean to you?
Pride is about finding happiness and contentment in your life. I didn’t really have that until I felt comfortable telling others that I was gay. I realized who I am is great and that without my relationships, especially my relationship with my wife, I wouldn’t have any of the things I have now.

What difference has it made for you to be your authentic self in all areas of your life, including your work at the PGA?
I grew up in a very traditional Catholic community, and it took me some time to accept who I was. When I made a career change and began working for the LPGA, I made the decision to be authentic. No longer would I hide anything about myself, and it has been liberating.

I decided to be proud of who I am, and to proudly introduce my girlfriend (now wife) to leaders within the industry and at major golf companies. I grew as a person and as a leader. When you are your authentic self, everything you do is better, because you’re happier, and you know what you want, what you value, and how to prioritize.

Being authentic led me to where I am now. At the PGA of America, we touch not only championships and golf tournaments, but we also represent the coaches in charge of making a major impact on all golfers everywhere. We can speak to so many people, and one of my goals is to change the way we, the golf industry, speak to people through written and visual communications. We needed to update our communication strategy, so we could attract a wider audience and help them understand that golf is for everyone.

The past year has been monumental for LGBTQ representation in golf, with both Tadd Fujikawa and Mel Reid coming out. What do you see as the impact of this increased visibility and diversity?
What I really like about both Mel and Tadd is they don’t represent the norm in golf. They were both at a point in their lives where they had the courage to stand up and say, ‘This is me.’ They’ve shown that there is no one way to be a golfer, and that in itself, is inspirational.

When people in the spotlight, like Mel and Tadd, publicly present their true authentic selves, and in the process show their own vulnerability, it makes a difference. It can help those struggling with their sexual identity feel a sense of community and acceptance, while also helping new companies realize the value of a sponsorship and an ability to grow their customer base in the global golf industry.

Hopefully, in Mel’s case, it brings different sponsors who provide additional funding and attention to women’s sports. Most importantly, the visibility can also lead to more people being accepted for who they are, not for who we think they may be.

How have you seen the PGA working to ensure all fans, players and staff feel welcomed and included?
One of the first projects I worked on at the PGA was a language audit. We looked at the ways that we unintentionally may have isolated others through our choice of words. Through that study, we learned the golf industry had some catching up to do, if we wanted to continue to grow and attract a new audience.

Thankfully, I work with some progressive thinkers who are open to change. We’ve worked together to find ways to educate our staff and our nearly 29,000 PGA Professionals across the country on how they can engage new communities and make people feel welcome at their golf club.

What message would you give to LGBTQ golf fans and players who question if they can be who they really are and still be a part of the sport they love?
You build trusting relationships with others by being your authentic self, and there is no better sense of community than through sport. If you love who you are and what you do, then people will be energized and inspired by you. The sports industry welcomes new ideas and experiences. So, I’d encourage anyone with a passion for change and growth to take advantage of all the opportunities that either a career or participation in the golf industry can bring.