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Allied Associations: PWGA I

Never Too Late to Be a Difference Maker

t’s never too late to get into golf and end up making a big difference to the game. Case in point is 68-year-old Julie

Gonzalez, a past president and cur- rent rules committee member of the Pacific Women’s Golf Association. A self-proclaimed “late starter,”

golf wasn’t even on Gonzalez’ radar until she was around the age of 38. Prior to that, her love was recreational softball. Only problem was, with each

season on the diamond, she found her knees giving away more and more. “I started looking for a different game I could get invested in,” said Gonzalez, a now retired former hu- man resources director for the County and City of San Francisco. “I wanted to still be able to stay active.” She’d not only find golf, but fell

head over heels for it, even if her first lesson didn’t exactly go as planned. “I started taking lessons at Hard-

ing Park and started playing at the 9-hole Golden Gate Park Course,” recalled Gonzalez. “I still remember my first instructor telling me, ‘Show me your swing.’ I did and I heard a big groan, ‘Oh, a softball player.’ My second instructor said the same thing but in a positive way. In his mind, he had more to work with.” Since those early days, Gonzalez’

relationship with the game has only flourished. Along with continuing to serve

the PWGA, which was the first as- sociation she’d join, Gonzalez’ roles in golf have included: being a USGA Regional Affairs Committee member, an NCGA committee member and tournament official, a member of the San Francisco Mayor’s Women’s Golf Council and acting as the current

chairperson of the Cali- fornia Women’s Cham- pionship Committee. Who said retirement

can be boring? “What motivates me I think is just the game of golf and its traditions,” Gonzalez said. “There’s the spirit and history of the game. Looking back, I wish I would’ve gotten involved at a younger age.” Thing is, as Gonzalez will tell you,

she didn’t really have any chances to get involved with golf as a youth. At

“What motivates me I think is just the game of golf and its

traditions. There’s the spirit and history of the game. Looking back, I wish I would’ve gotten involved at a younger age.”

the time, there wasn’t any golf for girls in high school. Women’s golf wasn’t all that big,

either, despite the efforts of pioneers like Helen Lengfeld, who founded the PWGA in 1947. Having seen where women’ golf

was, it’s not a surprise that in the roles she has since been, Gonzalez has tire- lessly pushed to make the game more accessible to all. “I want to promote golf for

women and also boys and girls. I’m happy to be a resource person for them,” Gonzalez said. “Between all of the different organizations I work with, I can see that we all are working towards the same goals.”

Julie Gonzalez Among the latest united golf

ventures that made Gonzalez happy was the formation of the now annual Drive, Chip and Putt Championship sponsored by the PGA, a nationwide junior golf skills competition open to boys and girls ages 7-15 that culminates in finalists playing at Augusta National the Sunday before Masters week. “I was absolutely ecstatic when

they started the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship,” Gonzalez said. “I think that ought to be a calling card for all organizations.” In following in the footsteps of

Lengfeld, Gonzalez also serves as a liaison for United Veterans Services- Swing Club, a golf rehabilitation program for veterans. Founded by Lengfeld, the

program brings veterans, some of whom have never played golf, to the Golf Club at Moffett Field to play a par-3 9-hole course as part of their therapy. Veterans who are sight-impaired can even participate in putting contests. “The veterans who have never

played golf, they’re hooked by the end of the day,” said Gonzalez, a retired USAR Master Sergeant herself. “Our volunteers love playing with them. It’s a really great thing.” So too, are people like Julie

Gonzalez. –J.S.

The PWGA has been supporting women amateur golfers playing public and semi-private courses in Northern California since 1947. Membership is available via a public or semi-private facility hosting a PWGA club, or through a PWGA Associate Club or eClub. Learn more about the PWGA by visiting

66 / NCGA.ORG / SPRING 2016

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