HARTFORD, CT -The City of Hartford will have the honor of hosting the PGA of America’s 104th annual meeting in 2020 thanks to one of Connecticut’s most famous golfers on and off the course.
Suzy Whaley’s two-year tenure as PGA of America president ends an historic run in 2020, with the annual meeting set for Oct. 25-30 at the Connecticut Convention Center. Whaley was the first woman and first Connecticut Section PGA member to be elected a PGA of America officer four years ago, and it came on the first ballot, a rarity. She has moved through the ranks to vice president and will be inducted as president on Nov. 9 in Palm Springs, Calif.
Whaley, 51, who had two stints on the LPGA Tour after graduating from the University of North Carolina, also has several other notable firsts. She was the first woman to win the Section Championship in 2002 and become the first woman since Babe Didrikson Zaharias 45 years earlier to qualify for a PGA Tour event, the 2003 Greater Hartford Open. The only other women to play in a PGA Tour event are Hall of Fame member Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie, but they each received sponsors’ exemptions.
Whaley is also the only woman to play in the Julius Boros Challenge Cup Matches, pitting the top 14 Section players and 14 Connecticut State Golf Association players. Whaley and Section president Ian Marshall were new captain Ralph Salito’s two picks this year and won seven of nine points, but the amateurs ended a six-year losing streak with a 36.5-26.5 victory in the Nassau-style competition at New Haven Country Club.
Whaley is a LPGA Teaching and Club Professional member who has received numerous teaching awards and is currently recognized by Golf for Women as a top 50 female instructor. She also is a board member and advisor for several organizations, including Golfer Girl Magazine.
The annual meeting will focus on the PGA of America and growing the game of golf. Delegates will gather at the Convention Center to plan the path for the association’s future and hold a scheduled election for the offices of president, vice president, secretary and honorary president. Approximately 750-800 PGA of America officers, board members, delegates, staff and special guests are expected to attend.
“It is exciting to see a city growing in its revitalization like Hartford host the PGA annual meeting in 2020,” said Whaley, who runs Suzy Whaley Golf at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, home of the Travelers Championship. “We look forward to our PGA Membership enjoying everything Hartford has to offer.”
The Marriott Hartford Downtown is the event’s official hotel. Located in the progressive Front Street District of Hartford, the hotel overlooks the Connecticut River and is interconnected with the Connecticut Convention Center. The nearby Hilton Hartford will be reserved for any additional rooms or space needed.
The Connecticut Section PGA, which consists of most of Connecticut and Western-Central Massachusetts, will serve as host PGA Section. It is the first major PGA of America event scheduled within the Section’s footprint. The Section has 350 PGA professionals, including 292 PGA Members and 58 PGA Associates. They are employed at more than 175 PGA recognized golf facilities, with the exception of Life Members, who are retired or not actively employed.
“We are looking forward to hosting the association’s annual meeting for the first time ever,” Marshall said. “It’s always an honor and a privilege to attend the annual meeting, and I’m excited that many more of our members will have the opportunity in 2020.”
The Section has another major connection with Hartford. Starting in 2014, the Section partnered and consulted with the City of Hartford to revitalize two municipal golf courses in diverse areas – Goodwin Park Golf Course in the South End and the award-winning Keney Park Golf Course in the North East. The courses now represent a proud part of Hartford’s renewal efforts.
Tom Hantke, who is in his 25th year as Section executive director, will be a key point man during the annual meeting after speaking to all 41 executive directors during the national gathering last year. He has been instrumental in upgrading and expanding the Section’s activities, especially on the business front. After several years in Golf House in Rocky Hill with the CSGA, the Section moved its office to South Glastonbury, a suburb of the Greater Hartford area. The office is located in a Carriage House just off Main Street and is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during non-holiday weekdays.
The Connecticut Section was the 23rd of the 41 sections to be chartered by the PGA of America, which was founded in 1916. The PGA of America gave the Connecticut Section its charter in 1933 after a series of meetings that took place in the spring of that year