After spending about 15 years as a marketing executive with several different high-tech companies in Boston, Seattle and Southern California, she and her husband started a bakery and coffeehouse called Brookies Cookies in Bigfork, Montana, a town of about 2,000 people.
Together they grew Brookies into a business that provided wholesale baked goods to about 100 accounts throughout northwestern Montana, mail order cookies throughout the United States, and the retail bakery/coffeehouse that provided fresh, baked-from-scratch goodies 7 days a week. After enjoying Brookies for thirteen years, they were approached by someone who wanted to buy the business from them, so they thought they would retire.
But Karen decided that retirement was not up her alley. Plus, she wanted to find a way to spend winters outside of Montana, somewhere that the sun was always shining so that she could pursue her love for golf. At the urging of a friend whose husband had retired from his engineering job and become a PGA professional, Karen started to look into golf as her “Act 3.”
After researching the PGA and comparing it to the LPGA programs, Karen decided that the LPGA programs were more to her liking. “I’d already been the boss in my previous careers, so I didn’t want to pursue a head professional’s job. I thought that teaching and coaching would be much more interesting than learning turf management, fleet maintenance, merchandising and the myriad of other things that the PGA emphasizes over teaching.” In 2005 Karen took a job at Rio Verde Country Club in Rio Verde, Arizona, passed her PAT and started the LPGA educational program.
“Who knew that teaching could be so much fun?” Karen always asks herself. “When the light bulb goes off in the student’s eyes, it’s the best feeling you can get. The programs of the LPGA were so well tailored to educating me as to how to teach that I felt well prepared to embark on this career. And the on-going education programs are instrumental in keeping me learning new things that I can pass on, and continually renewing my enthusiasm for teaching.”
Karen now divides her time between six months at Rio Verde and six months teaching in Montana, both at Northern Pines Golf Club in Kalispell and at Eagle Bend Golf Club in Bigfork. “Do what you love and keep doing it as long as you love it,” says Karen. Who knows what Act 4 might bring?