There’s a new boss in town at the Executive Women’s Golf Association, the largest women-focused amateur golf association in the United States, and EWGA Director of Player Development Le Ann Finger sat down to talk with her.
By Le Ann Finger for EWGA.com
We are thrilled to have LPGA major champion and golf executive Jane Geddes join EWGA as our CEO. Jane is a 14-time winner worldwide, including two majors at the 1986 U.S. Women’s Open and the 1987 LPGA Championship. Following a successful career on the LPGA Tour, Jane earned a law degree from Stetson University, worked at LPGA headquarters, at the WWE, and most recently as the executive director for the International Association of Golf Administrators.
Let’s tour a quick 18 questions with Jane:
Q: How did you get started in golf?
A: My family moved to South Carolina from Long Island, New York when I was 16 and I was a bit unhappy with the move. I played a lot of other sports, but never golf. My mother saw an article in the Charleston newspaper talking about Beth Daniel winning her second U.S. Amateur and her teacher, Derek Hardy. My mom thought that maybe I would like to take golf lessons…my response to her was, “NO, I hate golf!” Needless to say, she ignored me, scheduled the lesson with Derek and the rest is history!
Q: When did you know golf would be your profession?
A: I HOPED it would be my profession after my junior year in college at Florida State. Everyone thought I was crazy, except for my parents who always supported my decisions, thank goodness.
Q: What is your best memory from your years on the LPGA Tour?
A: Winning the U.S. Women’s Open and LPGA Championship are my two best golf memories, but my best memory of the tour will always be the friendships I made through the years. The women I played golf with were, and remain in my life, as family.
Q: What is your favorite golf club?
A: My driver.
Q: Who are/were your role models/mentors?
A: In golf, Beth Daniel was my role model and probably somewhat of a mentor early on, especially since it was due to her that I even contemplated playing golf. At work, Mike Whan (LPGA Commissioner), Zayra Calderon (former Pres. and CEO of the Duramed Futures Tour), Libba Galloway (former LPGA General Counsel) and Carolyn Bivens (former LPGA Commissioner), who gave me my first job at the LPGA.
Q: What drives you or motivates you?
A: I like a challenge. In golf, it was succeeding on the LPGA Tour because no one thought I could. Outside of golf, it’s taking on challenges that require pulling people together to make a difference.
Q: Are there any unique experiences you’ve had that helped make you the leader you are now?
A: My life has been one giant, unique experience. I played on tour for 20 years, left to finish school and go on to Law School, worked on the corporate side of golf and then moved on to work at the WWE (yes, World Wrestling Entertainment). I think my unique experiences in golf and the corporate world have provided amazing opportunities to learn to lead in a variety of different capacities.
Q: How can we continue to grow women’s golf?
A: It has always been about awareness of opportunities. At the LPGA, it’s about awareness of the tour, its players, etc. Outside the tour, it’s about getting women interested in the game on THEIR terms. Women access the game in different ways than what we are used to with men. We must acknowledge those differences and create awareness around access to those opportunities.
Q: What can EWGA members do to impact golf locally?
A: By spreading the word about access to the game through the EWGA. More to come on that soon!
Q: What advice would you offer for women in business when it comes to golf?
A: It doesn’t matter how you play. Learn the rules of etiquette first, take lessons so you get the fundamentals, learn how to “talk the game” on a basic level while on the course and know that you are most likely just as good as your male colleagues—the only difference is that they won’t admit it.
Q: Who is in your dream foursome?
A: I have played with so many great people in the world that I’m not sure I have a dream foursome. If I could turn back time, however, my dream foursome would include my mom, mad and my wife Gigi somewhere out on the Monterey peninsula.
Q: What is your favorite food?
A: Skirt steak with Chimichurri sauce.
Q: Where is your favorite place to vacation?
A: For places I have been lately, it the BVIs on a boat. Otherwise, I like going places with my kids where they can have an amazing educational experience.
Q: Do you have any pets in your family?
A: We are first-time cat owners, and I am not going to justify it by saying that my cat is just like a dog. Our cat is a can—an awesome cat, but a cat nonetheless.
Q: Your spouse is a former professional tennis player and two-time Olympic gold medalist. Do you play tennis, and if so, is it competitive or for fun?
A: Yes, I do play tennis, both for fun and competitively. I played tennis when I was in my teens (before playing golf) and took it up again a couple years ago. I play to a 4.0 level which in golf would be like a middle-teen handicap. I play in USTA leagues on the competitive side and participate in Gigi’s teaching clinics.
Q: What is your best memory or funny story you can share about being the mother of twins?
A: Every day is a new memory—it sounds cliché but it’s true. As far as a funny memory, when they were infants we had to keep a notebook on when we fed them, because, even though it seems unlikely, they were not always hungry at the same time or ate the same amount so we had to keep track of each. Gigi was meticulous at keeping the records and I was, well, not as meticulous with my exact amounts of formula, etc. We called her the “Formula-Nazi” for that period of time! We still have the notebook and we always have a story that we reminisce about when we open it.
Q: You are preparing for an upcoming Legends Tour event in Wisconsin – what do you focus on as you prepare for competition?
A: I don’t practice at all. My theory is that if I am not playing all the time, I operate on the law of diminishing returns. My best days are my first few and it’s downhill from there. I was never a big practicer.
Q: What are you most looking forward to as CEO of the EWGA?
A: I am looking forward the challenge to continue to grow the women’s game. It’s where I spent most of my life, so I am very much looking forward to giving back by creating awareness and opportunities for women who play the game, and for those who will play in the future.