Motivation M̶o̶n̶d̶a̶y̶ Every Day
When I talk to Alison Curdt, PGA and LPGA professional who now works out of Wood Ranch GC, I feel like I haven’t done enough with my life. Alison’s list of accomplishments is lengthy, so I’ll stick with the highlights:
- PGA Master Professional
- LPGA Class A Professional
- Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology
- Marriage & Family Therapist Registered Intern
That list doesn’t even encompass all of her awards, which include 2015 LPGA National Teacher of the Year honors. In addition to working as a golf professional at Wood Ranch GC in Simi Valley, Alison is also actively pursuing a doctoral degree, and in a few short years will be the first ever PGA and LPGA Master Professional. First. Like ever. Just hearing her talk about her ambitions and passions is inspiring… and exhausting.
And while we’re on the topic of inspiration, that’s exactly what the following is. Alison is so passionate about golf and her career, it can’t help but rub off on those she interacts with. For me, I couldn’t help but be struck by her drive; how she always did whatever she could to separate herself from the rest of the pack and put herself in a position to thrive professionally. I hope you are able to find similar motivation in the below.
What led you to be a golf professional?
In college I finished my psychology degree early, but still had golf to play. I had a full-ride scholarship, and thought ‘what will I do the next two years academically?’ I was drawn to the professional golf management program. I realized that even if I decided not to play professionally, I’d still have a backup in the field. After college, I wasn’t able to try to have a life on tour, and that background set me up to be in the golf industry. The internships provided me a full-time job out of college. Being a golf professional has allowed me to continue to expand my background in psychology, still play professionally and have a fruitful career in coaching.
Where does the psychology fit in?
I completed my masters in clinical psychology at Pepperdine a couple of years ago. I have my marriage and family therapy license. Working with athletes on a mental and emotional level gives me more depth when working with a player who wants to get to a peak performance level. Athletes who are dealing with depression, it gives me a legal and ethical right to work with them. It also gives me the chance to separate myself from 30k other PGA members; to address the “What’s your niche, what’s your expertise?” It’s a way for me to create an even more rewarding life in a field that has always been important to me.
And on top of all that, you still compete?
The luxury of being an LPGA/PGA member is that there are still competitions to play. We are trying to grow the number of female professionals playing, but for now, it creates stiff competition to play again the men in chapter/section events. And the LPGA has afforded wonderful opportunities to qualify for LPGA Tour events. For me, competition is right up there next to having a successful business. It’s very important for me. I’ve put 27 years into playing this game, I don’t want to give it up. It completes me to still have those opportunities.
So, you’re a PGA pro and an LPGA pro? What’s the difference? Why both?
In the PGA, there are three levels for a professional. Class A, Certified Pro and a Master Professional. Each level requires further education and testing. I’m a master professional, something only 11 women have ever reached.
The LPGA is really focused on teaching players and coaching players, whereas the PGA gives a very well-rounded education in golf operations and business. So for a female to have both credentials is really empowering. You get expertise in all areas of the game.
My PGA program during college funnels students to a PGA credential. That was inevitable in my collegiate training. When I became a PGA pro I learned of a dual membership with the LPGA. Immediately after Class A I started the fast track process with the LPGA as well. With the PGA I was a small fish in a huge pond. I needed that next step to separate myself.
Do you have more male or female clients?
I’ve always had very pleasant experiences working with male students. My demographic is more male than female. It sort of changed for me when I left the private club sector, where there were less women looking for instruction. At Wood Ranch I have more female clients.
Gender has never been an issue when it comes to being an instructor, that I know of. But when it comes to corporation and work force I have noticed it.
You’ve faced discrimination in this industry because of your gender?
I’ve had some really positive male role models. I’ve now spent 12 years as a PGA Pro. The older I have gotten and more established it’s become easier because I have created a solid reputation. Early in my career it was difficult to work on a staff that was all male except for me, the one token female. At times it felt like I was only being hired so a club could have a female pro, not because I was the best candidate for the job. At times I felt belittled that just because I was a female I was in charge of women’s programs. I was pigeon holed. I was asked to handle women’s clothes and women’s merchandise. Just because I am a woman doesn’t mean I’m an expert there.
It also has been very difficult to advance positions. While the industry is very comfortable with female first assistants, they are not necessarily as comfortable with female directors of golf or female head pros. I felt some pushback. It’s hard to change some of those old beliefs and paradigms. I certainly look up to the women who have been able to be successful in those roles. It’s encouraging, even though it’s a small percentage.
I can’t believe I’m asking you this, since you’ve done so much already, but what are your goals for the future?
I want to become licensed by the end of the year, my clinical license and docurate. I want to become the first individual to be a PGA Master Professional and LPGA Master Professional. I need to wait until 2018, my 10-year anniversary as a member, to start that.
This past year has been amazing. I was LPGA Teacher of the Year at age 33. I was the Western Section Teacher of the Year, SCPGA Northern Chapter Teacher of the year. 2015 was very fulfilling in terms of accomplishments and awards. Next, I want to bring that to a national level — become one of the top female instructors in the country. I want someone to open up Golf Digest and see Harmon and Ledbetter and then Alison Curdt. I just finished doing some tips for Golf Channel. That’s sort of my first step forward in terms of reaching a larger market. Gotta get that name to grow!
What is your message to women in golf?
Don’t every let anyone tell you that you can’t. Whether it’s “you can’t be a member here,” or “women can’t play on Wednesday mornings,” we’re in a time where gender shouldn’t be an issue anymore. We should not be told “no” because we are female, we should be told “yes” because we are a person. When a limitation is thrown in your way because of your gender, find a way to make a difference and get past it. Don’t settle for being told you can’t. That makes me more motivated.
Learn a little something from Alison? Maybe she can help you with your golf game as well. Check out this tip on making more short putts.