By Charles Dillahunt
PGA of America Inclusion and Diversity
PGA of America Digital Content Specialist Carly Grenfell has turned her passion for women’s sports into a fulfilling career. While opportunities within the golf industry may not have been in her original post-graduation plans, it ultimately became an option she couldn’t resist.
Originally from York, Nebraska, Grenfell, 26, was recruited to play women’s basketball at Drake University from 2010-2015, where she became one of the school’s top three-point shooters.
After graduation, Grenfell earned her Master’s Degree in Communication Studies from Northern Arizona University. During her two years in Flagstaff, Grenfell served as a Graduate Assistant in the NAU Athletic Communications Office.
“I was able to perform a variety of tasks, such as play-by-play radio coverage for the women’s basketball team, stat keeping for the football and volleyball teams, and managing the social media accounts for the Athletic Department,” said Grenfell. “This position allowed me to gain a wide variety of experiences.”
While enrolled in grad school, Grenfell was also offered a social media internship with the LPGA. While this served as her entry point into the golf industry, she still felt basketball was her calling. So, post-grad school, Grenfell returned to her alma mater as the Coordinator of Basketball Operations for the Drake University Women’s Basketball Team.
“Carly thinks outside the box and constantly wants to challenge the status quo, but she is also able to take her big ideas and break them down into a plan,” said Drake Coach Jennie Baranczyk. “Carly is always willing to do the little things that are needed and essential. I knew that she would come in and make us better. Carly wasn’t coming back to help us remain the same, she came to help take us to another level.”
“I had a unique role at Drake, because my former coach, Jennie, who served as my boss, let me mold the position in a way that I gained experience in areas in which I knew I was interested,” added Grenfell.
A New Beginning
Less than a year into her role at Drake, an opening at the PGA of America would present Grenfell with a new opportunity.
“We knew right away that Carly had interests outside of the Basketball Operations realm than most people in that position want, but she could see a completely different side of the game and our program,” added Baranczyk. “Carly is someone that’s going to put her heart and soul into anything she does, and her intent is always about the team, the program and the vision. She has this amazing ability to combine her individual strengths to make the whole better.”
“I was a little unsure if changing jobs so early on in my career was a smart decision, but I felt as though I had to explore it more, because it was such a great opportunity,” Grenfell explained.
So, she began a career as Digital Content Specialist for the PGA in 2017.
Grenfell is part of a golf industry workforce that is constantly evolving, as the goal is to mirror America, while using innovative ways to become more inclusive and engage with new consumers.
Her out-of-the-box creativity made her stand out as the right fit for the PGA.
“We had a new position that was being created, and when that happens, you want to be able to get someone who has a variety of skills that allows the person to grow the position into much more than what was originally intended,” said PGA of America Senior Director of Brand and Content Strategy Molly Gallatin. “I knew Carly was passionate about sports and writing and that she had a unique communication style. She’s able to take a project and run with it, with little to no supervision.”
Innovation is a priority around PGA of America Headquarters, as it is a critical component to growing the game.
“I’m able to create content from a perspective many may not have tried to do before, coming from a basketball background,” added Grenfell. “I try not to stick to content production that has always been done, because in order to innovate, you need a fresh perspective. I believe my ‘push the envelope’ mentality really helps me stay new and fresh in my approach to creating content.
“I often find myself challenging the status quo on a daily basis. From a content perspective, I try to make it more fast paced, because traditionally, it hasn’t been.This will help us stay not only relevant, but ahead.”
“Carly’s ability to speak to an audience much different than the traditional PGA audience was an important skill we needed in that position,” added Gallatin.
PGA of America Digital Content Manager, Randy Stutzman, praised Grenfell’s work ethic.
“Carly has brought a tremendous amount of energy, passion and creative thinking to the PGA of America,” said Stutzman. “This has been incredibly valuable to our Digital Content team and is so important in today’s digital space.”
Grenfell takes a holistic approach to creating new and engaging content for the PGA’s social audience.
“Our following is predominantly men, at the moment,” said Grenfell. “As a former collegiate athlete, I am passionate about women’s sports, and I know how to tailor messages so that women can enjoy the content, too. The goal is always to engage our current following, while also attracting new followers. I ask myself, ‘What type of content would women want to read?’ Then, I try to tailor content to that.
“In order to grow the game, we must consider the multitude of personalities that may pick up the game. Bringing in more women and people of color, by working to make the game more fun than it’s perceived to be, is a huge goal of mine. That way, once they’re ready to try golf for the first time, they will feel welcomed.”
Grenfell offers advice for other women and innovators interested in entering the golf workforce.
“Just do it,” said Grenfell. “In this business, it’s not all about who you know, its more about what you do with your time. I’ve tried not to stick to what’s already been done, and I think others could benefit from doing that, as well.”
You can follow Carly Grenfell’s work across the PGA of America’s social media channels on Twitter and Instagram @PGA and on LinkedIn @PGAofAmerica.
For more features on women working in the business of golf, follow @PGAWORKS on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
For more information on careers at the PGA of America, visit careers.pgahq.com.
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