Getting Connected: Suzanne Kelley Gives Back Through SCGA Junior
Golf provides community. A place to go. People to spend time with. It’s for that reason that when Suzanne Kelley moved back to Southern California after 16 years in New York one of the first things she did was get involved with the golf community here in Los Angeles.
Kelley’s return to Los Angeles reconnected her with Brian Good, an SCGA Junior board member whom she knew from her time working in the real estate industry. He connected Kelley with SCGA Junior and the rest is history. Her passions matched up with the missions and goals of the organization, and today Kelley herself sits on the SCGA Junior Board as well as the organization’s scholarship committee.
“I was recently retired and was looking to give back to golf,” Kelley said. “What SCGA Junior was doing was really intriguing to me. Having just come back to California, it was a great way to jump back in with two feet. It connected me to golf and giving back, two things I was looking for.”
She had first gotten involved with the game in her mid-20s. It’s not a typical activity for a young female professional, but there was a trigger for Kelley: someone told her she couldn’t do it.
“That made me want to,” said Kelley, whose tenacious attitude helped her succeed on the golf course and in the business world for years. “A former boyfriend was playing at Los Verdes with some friends, and I came along and just sat in the cart. Afterwards, I said I wanted to learn. He told me I wouldn’t be good at it.”
She would prove him wrong. Kelley, now a 10.2 Handicap, has been hooked on the game ever since. The game, though, would serve her well outside of being just a recreational pursuit. In New York, working in the world of Wall Street, it became key to her success in business as well.
“The opportunities I’ve had in business through golf are endless,” said Kelley, who worked for a real estate private equity fund before moving to two different hedge funds. “I realized that I didn’t want to be excluded from something just because I didn’t play golf.”
In fact, it was a business opportunity that got her on the course with a certain golfing president.
“In 2002 I played a round with Donald Trump,” said Kelley, who was working a business deal at a property Trump was purchasing. “I remember three things very clearly, he likes to play fast, he is a very good golfer and he likes to win.”
Kelley is no stranger to teeing it up with strong personalities. In fact, for years now she has been the only female participant in an annual match put on by the Union League Club of New York.
“This year was my seventh time participating,” said Kelley. “At first they said I couldn’t play because I was a woman, and to this day I’m still the only female in the field. In my opinion, the game transcends gender, age and ability. That’s one of the reasons I was so attracted to it.”The things she treasures most about golf are also things she’s able to pass down to the kids in SCGA Junior. Just recently she played a round with two SCGA Junior scholars, and she bonded with one over their mutual lack of height.
“My small size is a liability in every other sport except golf,” Kelley shared with the 17 year old.
The ability to get to know these young adults through the Scholarship program has been one of Kelley’s most rewarding aspects of working with SCGA Junior.
“Seeing kids’ lives changed by the game of golf, and then being able to help them continue down that path through the scholarships we provide, it’s extremely rewarding.”
Kelley especially loves getting to see them in action on the golf course.
“The poise is remarkable,” said Kelley. “The way they handle bad shots out there really shows how they deal with disappointment and adversity. The game makes them better kids, and I’m happy to be part of that.”