March is Women’s History Month – a time to celebrate the best and brightest leaders who have been and continue to be pioneers throughout the golf industry. These women have helped pave the way for future generations to play the game with confidence.
PAST: LPGA Founders
Photo Credit: LPGA.com
The golf industry forever changed when 13 women came together with a dream of playing golf professionally. After the 1950 U.S. Open, in a time when golf was mainly focused on men, these women carved out their own pathway. Together, they created the Ladies Professional Golfers Association. Today, the LPGA has grown considerably and continues to provide an opportunity for women to follow their dreams and earn a living playing the game they love. As our First Tee participants continue to grow through our character-building program, our hope is that they can use golf as a platform to accomplish their dreams, just as these 13 courageous women did.
PRESENT: Dr. Condoleezza Rice
Dr. Condoleezza Rice has broken ground and knocked down barriers in her illustrious professional and philanthropic career. She was the first African-American woman to become Secretary of State, aiding the world in peace talks and international relations, and has devoted herself to education, serving at Stanford University in multiple roles since 1981. In 2012, Dr. Rice added another first when she became one of the first two female members admitted to Augusta National Golf Club, the home of the Masters tournament.
Now, given her platform and prominence, she uses her energy to give back. Dr. Rice is a tireless advocate for youth in the game of golf, and has played a large part in the promotion of Drive Chip & Putt as well as the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, both of which have provided opportunities and encouragement for First Tee participants to follow their dreams.
Anne N. Walker, director of women’s golf at Stanford University, spoke highly of her service.
“If you look back on Condi’s life journey, she has never been known to take the easy path,” Walker says. “She thrives on challenge and intellectual curiosity. In golf, she found a lifelong sport where she is continuously challenged and learning. That combination, along with her love of competition, sports and a healthy lifestyle make Dr. Rice and golf a perfect union.”
FUTURE: Noor Ahmed
Noor Ahmed (left) at the PURE Insurance Championship with Mark McNulty
Noor Ahmed is a pioneer of the future. From beginning as a participant at First Tee of Greater Sacramento, Noor learned the values of self-confidence, having goals and preparing herself for anything that comes her way. A Muslim American who has worn her hijab since childhood, Noor was once shy and reserved. She found a home of acceptance with First Tee, away from those who criticized her based on appearance or religion.
“I learned while standing on the first tee box how to shake hands with my playing partners, look them in the eye, say my name loudly and clearly, and to tell them it was nice to meet them,” Noor said during an interview with Golf Digest. “I know that it sounds so silly, but that was a huge accomplishment for me. Coach Angie [Dixon, with First Tee of Greater Sacramento] noticed me – the shy, introverted girl in the corner that no one saw before – and through her small action, she told me that I was a part of a group and that I was wanted.”
Noor is a First Tee scholar, and used her self-confidence during her speech at the First Tee Congressional Breakfast in 2017. She has continued her education, currently enrolled as a history major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She was also named as part of the 2019 Academic All-Big Ten team. Noor’s story of growth, acceptance and ultimate triumph is one that encourages other participants, coaches and leaders to be the best versions of themselves and ultimately impact countless lives along the way.
It is never too late to inspire the next generation of leaders or serve as a mentor to the kids and teens in your community. Join us as we empower the next generation to have the confidence to take on whatever challenges come their way.