Taylor Collins, PGA, Makes History as First Woman to Win South Florida Section Championship
By Abigail Kasitz
A victory years in the making. Taylor Collins, PGA, made history when she became the first woman to win the South Florida PGA Professional Championship in it’s 42 year history. Though historic, her victory was not without adversity or challenges.
Winning is one thing, but Collins made sure to leave any room for anyone to catch her, winning by four shots at 8-under 208 against a male-dominated field whom she calls “very supportive and welcoming”.
“It’s crazy. It hasn’t really sunk in. I just hope that it encourages other female golfers to come out and participate,” Taylor said. “It’s also great for the younger golfers to see it, especially the young girls that I teach. It’s awesome for them to see that we can go out there and compete with the guys.
That being said, Taylor is no stranger to competing. She won individual and team national titles during her collegiate years and played on the Symetra Tour for several years after that. Until one day she couldn’t compete anymore.
“I started experiencing joint pain to the point where I couldn’t really practice anymore or even hold a club and you can’t compete if you can’t practice,” Collins shared. “So, I left golf and took a corporate job, but the pain got worse and I couldn’t even hold a golf club anymore.”
“I got diagnosed with pretty bad rheumatoid arthritis. It took about two years to get under control and I started golfing again. That made me realize how much I missed golf, it’s the thing I love most.”
As a result, Taylor left her corporate job and headed straight back to the golf industry, picking up a gig at Coral Ridge CC in Fort Lauderdale, FL where she still works. These days, Taylor is more focused on teaching than competing as her arthritis limits her.
However, her competitive spirit lives on as she has resumed competing in the form of many of the section’s events. Before the PGA Professional Championship, she was unsure if she was going to be able to compete as her RA was acting up.
“I was struggling to hold a club again, so I didn’t practice much going into this tournament because I physically couldn’t. So I rested and did what I could and ended up being able to play,” Taylor said. “But I think it worked out.”
Spoiler alert: it did. She was able to regain control of her RA and not only play, but create a lasting legacy that will be permanently in the record books despite the challenges she has faced along the way.
“Obviously, I play a different tee than the men. At the same time, I physically cannot be as strong as them, so in the end it’s all about keeping shots in play and making putts,” Taylor said. “It doesn’t matter where you’re playing from, how old you are, what gender you are, it’s just if you’re making the putts or not is what it really comes down to.”