Member Profile – Rhonda Ferguson

Rhonda FergusonWhen did you start playing and how did you learn?

I started playing when I was 15 in Gainesville, FL. Kevin Maris, the son of New York Yankees Great Roger Maris, was my coach and instructor. Kevin was then playing on the Mini-tours and played frequently at the Club we were both members at. He always welcomed me to play with other Mini-tour players (even though I was only 15, a girl, and a beginner). They always made me play from the back tees (the Gator Back tees( with them, which helped me tremendously with distance. I became one of the longest female ball strikers around. Keven taught me to be calm, relax, enjoy yourself and never have a temper on the course. We also played with his dad, Roger frequently, which was always a treat to be able to play with one of Baseball’s greatest players.

Which association (PGA/LPGA) did you join first and why?

I joined PGA first because I was more familiar with the association, as most of my friends were males and were Members, As I progressed through the program and became more aware of the LPGA and all they had to offer, within one month of gaining my Class A status, I joined the LPGA. I am very proud and excited to be a part of two great organizations.

What is your history at San Jose CC?

I have been a San Jose for almost seven years. When I started at San Jose CC, I helped with the Summer Golf Camps. During this time frame, the Club only offered a few summer golf camps. With this in mind, I went to the Head PGA Professional, Todd Bork and spoke to him about holding year round junior golf events. From there, I started weekly clinics that became year round. We have grown our program to several hundred juniors that participate each year. We now hold summer camps, weekly clinics, holiday camps, Black Friday camps, special events, PGA Junior League Golf and Junior demo days.

I contacted PGA Junior League in 2011 and spoke to them about hosting a League. Although they were not ready to launch in Florida, I talked to Keith Johnson of PGA Junior League, and he agreed to let us try and form a league. From here we have grown the League to 24 teams in the Spring and 20 teams in the Fall, with over 400 juniors participating each year. SJCC fields three of the teams with 60 junior golfers participating each year. I now chair the North Florida PGA Section PGA Junior Golf League, as well as serve as the Co-Chair of the North Florida PGA Section Junior Golf Committee. Building on the PGA Junior League success and wanting to get more involved in the LPGA, I started a non-profit, North Florida Girls Golf in late 2013. We hold six events during the spring months that are similar to PGA Junior League, with 9-hole, 2-person scrambles. Our goal is to get more girls excited and involved in golf. In 2015, we were approved as an official USGA*LPGA Girls Golf site and are very excited about the success we have has and are looking forward to the future of the organization with our partners. Over 200 girls have participated in the events in the last two years.

For the last two years, Todd Bork and I have hosted the LPGA/PGA Southeast Mixed team Championship Pro-Pro/Pro-Am. With the support of the LPGA, we have had a great turnout each year with 56 players competing. We look forward to growing the event and making it a showcase event in the future.

Tell us about being the first woman to qualify for the Underwood Cup Team?

One of my goals, after turning professional, was to qualify for the Underwood Cup Team. The event has been around for 24-years and no other female has qualified. The event is Ryder Cup format with the Top 12 Amateurs competing against the Top 12 professionals. Eight qualify from each team based on year end points from events and four are Captain’s picks. After I was in a serious car crash in June of 2012, I never thought I would be able to make the team or compete at the Professional level again. I have been through extensive therapy and even now, before I can play, I have to go through an extensive warm up routine and continue with pain management and therapy. It has been and will always be a struggle, but I wanted to attain my goals, as golf has been and will always be my passion in life. With hard work and a family that has been so supportive and helpful to me, I was fortunate to qualify 8th this past year and play in the event in February. Although I lost 2 matches and tied one, I felt very welcome by everyone and had a great experience. It is a memory that I will treasure forever.

I was also the first female to compete in the PGA Fate Petroleum Invitational in 2011, the Henry Tuten Gator Bowl Pro-Am in 2011, the first female in the Northern Chapter to win an individual and team Pro-Am (2014/2011) and the first female from the Northern Chapter to play on the Jerry Porter Cup Team.

My goal is to get more women and girls excited and interested in golf. In the past, so many have seen the game as a gentleman’s game. I like to think of it as a gentlewoman’s game! If I can get out there and compete with the boys, I want all to think they can do the same. Golf is game for all to enjoy. It doesn’t matter what you age, race, or gender is.

Fun fact about yourself and your family.

My husband and I love to travel. Darrin and I have an RV, and we love to take our two labs, Jack and Ginger, with us in the RV. They both serve as co-pilots on the “bus”. When they see the bus pull up to the house, they are so excited, they start crying, as they know they are going on a new adventure with their family.

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