Q&A with WSCGA Executive Director Deb Long
With the historic announcement that the SCGA would unify with the WSCGA, the largest women’s golf association in Southern California, we thought it would only be appropriate to lend some space in FORE Her to their organization. We checked in with Executive Director Deb Long, who has worked at the WSCGA since 2000, to learn more about her time with the Association and why she believes this unification is best for female golfers in our region.
Deb, we’ve known each other for a few years now, but I don’t think I actually know what brought you to the WSCGA in the first place.
It was kind of a miscommunication! After I moved here from Nebraska, where I had been practicing law, I went to the Professional Golfers Career College to segue into the golf business. I had done the private practice thing as a lawyer, and really wanted to do something different. Something to lose the skirt, hose and heels!
For one of my classes, I had to interview people from the golf industry, and one of my instructors told me that the LPGA was based in San Dimas. I knew that wasn’t the case, but reached out to the contact anyway, who happened to work for the WSCGA. I went to San Dimas to interview her, and met the whole WSCGA team. It led to me being hired as a USGA P.J. Boatwright Intern, and the rest is history!
Were you a golfer? Big jump to go from practicing law to golf!
Yes! Golf has come in and out of my life practically forever. My dad was a golfer, and he always wanted me to play. But growing up there weren’t too many opportunities for female golfers, and honestly I just really wanted to play softball. But I had friends in college who played, so we played recreationally. Same thing in law school. In fact, in law school we probably invented what is now Speedgolf. We would see how fast we could play nine holes as a study break. The game cycled back in again when I was practicing law. It’s gone in and out, but golf has always been there in my life.
What has been the most memorable part of your job with the WSCGA?
I guess I’m lucky, I’ve gotten to do so many different things. I got to start with the course rating aspect, which I loved, especially because I love to be outside. It was also exciting to start the Foundation in 2002 and get that off the ground. I had a full-circle kind of moment last week actually when we attended the CIF Academic Award ceremony. We first started talking with CIF back in 2000, when we took over running their SS-Regional Championship. We spoke with them about other ways we could work together, and since then each year six high school girls’ golf teams with the highest GPA have received grants from our Foundation. Since 2003, the awards have taken place on the field at Angel Stadium. It’s been fun to see the growth of the girls’ game, as well as the quality and skill level, from then to now.
Any specific story or memory from your time with the WSCGA you want to share?
Lizette Salas was one of our grant recipients in 2005. She was going to her first Women’s Am, and her coach at the time requested a grant from our Foundation to offset some of her travel costs. Looking back, that began her journey on the national golf scene, but also with us here at the WSCGA.
A few years later we hooked up with the Coachella Valley HS girls golf team and worked with one of our local private clubs to help fund team equipment and uniforms. The team came out to meet us at the ANA Inspiration (then the Kraft Nabisco Championship) and through our relationships got to meet Lizette. It was an incredible opportunity for the girls, and Lizette was so moved by these girls, she made a donation herself. Nice to see everything come full circle.
What are you most looking forward to with the upcoming unification?
I think there is going to be more visibility, and a bigger platform, for women’s amateur golf in general here in SoCal. We’re going to see all the different groups begin working together, and with consolidated resources we’ll see increased opportunities for women. For our members in particular, we’ll see more opportunity for participation across a broader spectrum, with enhanced tournaments as well as new types of events for all skill levels of WSCGA members.