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- By Lisa D. Mickey
Nell Frewin-Hays knows she is in good company as she enters the LPGA Teaching and Club Professionals Hall of Fame this year.
“Mary Degraedt was a trailblazer when it came to teaching and coaching, and she was one of my mentors,” said Frewin-Hays. “Nancy Quarcelino came along behind me, and I’d like to think maybe I helped her.”
All three women will become the most recent inductees into the T&CP Hall of Fame. But while opportunity in their respective careers evolved in each player’s generation, they all shared similar hurdles as women professionals seeking more solid footing in an industry that is still largely male.
For example, when Frewin-Hays turned pro in 1976, she says it was uncommon for women “to become a full professional.”
And when she applied for jobs at clubs as a teaching professional, the dialogue always went something like this:
“You can be the ladies’ pro,” she was told.
“I’m a golf professional, and I teach men, too,” said Frewin-Hays.
“Oh, you can teach men?” said a surprised director of golf.
“I just remember that my goal was seeing the day when gender would not be an issue,” said Frewin-Hays.
Years later, as an officer of the LPGA T&CP, Frewin-Hays had a memorable conversation with a member of the PGA of America. The LPGA officer asked if the LPGA could have a booth at the annual PGA Merchandise Show and she was told, in so many words, that “it would be a cold day in hell for that to happen.” It was a puzzling response for a request to simply be included in golf’s annual trade show.
“We didn’t get that booth until maybe 10 years later, but the PGA eventually changed and they became more accepting,” she said. “Now, many women are PGA of America members.”
In fact, she is now a Class A-6 member of the PGA of America, as well as a member of the LPGA T&CP.
Frewin-Hays has also observed changes within her own organization. The LPGA’s commissioners have, in recent years, better embraced the T&CP membership and have valued what the non-touring division brings to the association. The T&CP recently got a seat in the boardroom and a vote on the LPGA’s board of directors, she added.
“Members on tour are on TV, but we are the day-to-day people in the golf industry who sign up recreational golfers for tee times, teach them lessons, sell them merchandise and do whatever needs to be done on the local level,” she said. “Today’s LPGA commissioners are now a lot more accepting and knowledgeable about what we do in the everyday operations of golf.”
Like her colleague, Mary Dagraedt, Frewin-Hays has witnessed great growth and many milestones in the LPGA T&CP. She remembers when there were 400 T&CP members in the early 1980s. That number has now reached over 1,500 members.
One of the milestones of which she is most proud is helping establish the first LPGA T&CP National Championship. She and other members brought the first tournament to Placid Lakes Country Club in Lake Placid, Fla. in 1983.
“It was important to get our members together and to let people know that we can teach, but we can also play,” said Frewin-Hays. “That event is still going strong.”
Frewin-Hays became the T&CP’s third national president from 1986-1987. She held different offices in the Southeast Section and was instrumental in establishing the T&CP’s National Points System, criteria and records.
“We did that to make sure our members stay involved in the organization and are current in their knowledge about the golf industry, teaching techniques, club repair, merchandising and many other aspects of our business,” she said.
She was named as the 1982 LPGA Professional of the Year, and earned Master Professional status in 1994, adding Life Member status in 2012.
An only child, Frewin-Hays learned to play golf from her mother at age 6. Her parents both played golf and their daughter quickly learned that it was “more fun to play than to pull the cart.” By age 8, she was playing her first tournaments offered through the Rockford City Park District in Illinois.
Frewin-Hays played college golf for two years at St. Mary’s College at Notre Dame, becoming the first woman in 1972 to play on the Notre Dame University golf course. She finished her college eligibility when she transferred to Newcomb College of Tulane University in New Orleans.
From 1987-1997, she worked as a general manager for American Golf Corporation. Through that position, she learned about theft and crime prevention at golf courses and helped create a golf course security DVD to educate club personnel about crime in their workplace.
That role led to her current position – in what she calls her “second career” – as a public information officer and crime prevention specialist at Highlands County Sheriff’s Department in Florida. It is a full-time position that limits her time with golf.
But Frewin-Hays spends each Saturday teaching at Golf Hammock Country Club in Sebring, Fla., and she plans to continue her involvement with the LPGA for years to come.
As for her induction into the LPGA’s T&CP Hall of Fame, she calls it a special milestone in a fulfilling career.
“It’s still surreal to me,” she said. “I’m incredibly honored and incredibly humbled to be named for our hall of fame. I want to continue to be an asset to the LPGA in any way I can.”