It’s no secret golf has been a male-dominated industry since its creation hundreds of years ago. In fact, since the USGA was founded in 1984, golf’s governing body here in the United States has had just two female presidents. We are lucky enough, however, to have one of them serving now. Recently, Diana Murphy, the USGA’s current president and second female one, was in Southern California. During her stay, she was kind enough to give FORE Her a few minutes of her time.
FORE Her: What excites you most about your new position with the USGA?
Diana: I’m most excited to work with a very talented group of leadership and be associated with 14 other executive committee members who have come together for the love of the game. To be able to give back in some way is quite humbling, and very fulfilling at the same time.
What brought you into golf in the first place?
My father did, indirectly. He’s from England, and as a young man came here to follow the American Dream. He didn’t bring much but his golf clubs. He settled in Southern West Virginia, met my mother and worked in the mining industry. Any free time he had he spent playing golf. He taught my brother how to play. But unfortunately, I never got to know my father because he died when I was an infant. My brother was determined that I would learn the game because it was sort of part of my DNA. My dad was obsessed with it. The spirit of recognizing that the game was so important to him and my brother made it important to me.
Later, in my young professional life, I learned it was good for business reasons as well. I realized the opportunity to play the game in a corporate setting and be able to get to know colleagues in that setting is really special. Thirty years later and I love the game more than ever.
What goes through your head when you are introduced as only the “second female president of the USGA?”
Amazement. I think just to be recognized as following Judy Bell, the first female president, who I have such a personal high regard and affection for, is humbling. Otherwise, I don’t think I had really thought about it until I saw some of the reactions of other women. That there is a great enthusiasm of that, and even non-golfers, local women in my community, who would say “that’s a big deal!” To the extent I can mentor young people and encourage them to follow their dreams and certainly young ladies, that’s an additional benefit.
Women are primary decision-makers when it comes to how their families spend their leisure time and what activities their kids participate in, which is such an important part of the game of golf. I hope we can embrace that role even more in the future.
When golfers hear “USGA” what do you want them to associate that with?
I think integrity, governance in the sense of protection, that we are committed to protect and preserve the game of golf, and also best in class. We run 14 championships, our Opens and amateur championships, and we take pride that all are the best in class. The best Championship that any elite golfer can compete in.
What is your message to female golfers?
Have fun. Embrace the game for the friendship and camaraderie and physical and mental challenge it provides. And also, introduce the game to one person. Be a plus-1. In the Handicap world, a +1 is an elite golfer. Many of us will never reach that. But we can all be a plus-1 by taking the time and energy to bring one other person into the game. Whether it’s taking them to the golf course, the practice range, giving them a book, getting on usga.org or watching one of our championships. Being committed to spend that time with one other person and the game we love.
Who’s your golf mentor?
My husband. He was my first real teacher of the game. He probably to this day is my biggest cheerleader. He’s much happier when I have a great round than one of his own.
What is your best memory from the golf course?
I had a hole in one at Prestwick. I started the round, first time playing there in Scottland, and I was quite a young golfer. I hadn’t broken 100 yet. When my husband and I went there to play he was telling me all the things to look out for. Our caddie, Robert, well he was summoned to be my caddie. He had just done a loop, and was ready to head to the pub. He really wasn’t that happy to be caddying again. Suffice it to say he was ignoring me a bit. The 5th hole is called Himalayas, and I hit an 8-iron, and when it went in the air, the first thing Robert said to me in five holes was “it’s going in the hole.” My husband was appalled that he was yelling so loudly. I was just confused by his excitement. The ball landed on the green and went in the hole. Robert was ecstatic. He was 40 years old, had been caddying for 20 years, and had never seen a hole in one. Needless to say we became best friends after that. Shared a beer at the end of the round.