Women's Golf Week Spotlight: Cari Chow

This interview feature is part of the Association's celebration of Women's Golf Week presented by adidas Golf Canada. Women’s Golf Week is an annual initiative running May 28 to June 4, 2024 to engage, empower and support women and girls in golf, leading to a culmination with International Women's Golf Day on June 4. Facilities throughout BC will be hosting events to celebrate the PGA of BC's women professionals and to encourage women’s participation, inclusion and visibility. We will be on-site filming and taking photos at several Women’s Golf Week events throughout the province. Please subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow us on social media for content from a variety of exciting events around the province. The PGA of BC extends our gratitude to adidas Golf Canada for their generous support of this important initiative.

May 31, 2024

RICHMOND, BC (PGA of British Columbia) - Cari Chow wanted to be a professional athlete from a young age. The PGA of BC Teaching Professional started golfing at age four, and was also active in soccer, tennis, swimming and basketball.

“Growing up into my teens, the focus was actually soccer. I was trying to be a pro soccer player and competed at a really high level. It was always soccer in the morning, then heading to the golf course in the afternoons and evenings. Around middle school, I started competing in more high-level golf tournaments. I recognized that I had a skill and passion for it and had a lot of great instructors growing up to help me get there.”

With her athletic career blossoming, Chow suffered a setback. She seriously injured her knee playing soccer, undergoing two knee surgeries, and limiting her ability to compete.

“I had to go through that process and figure out my way because since I was a young girl, I wanted to be a professional athlete. So, being age 13 and going through two knee surgeries, it took quite a toll on being active and being able to participate in sport. But fortunately, that’s kind of where I found my passion for teaching.”

Chow could only pitch, chip, and putt for a couple years. She was practicing bunker shots one day at Olympic View Golf Club and had a formative experience that shaped her outlook and inspired her to pursue teaching.

“I was almost 14, practicing away kind of in my own world. An older gentleman comes into the bunker and he’s like ‘Oh, I wish I could do that.’ I could see in his face how beaten up he was, having a really hard time getting out of the bunker,” said Chow. “I shared a couple things I had learned from my instructors. To see his face when it clicked, I think his second try he had an even better bunker shot than mine, that was the moment I knew I wanted to teach. I kind of knew from that point on, how it made me feel to help someone and simply say a few words and see their face light up, it made me feel great.”

Once Chow healed from her surgeries, she continued competing at junior tournaments and felt a pull towards competitive golf. She earned a spot on the University of Victoria golf team, where she played for four years.

“The experience was incredible. It showed me how I could use golf to not only meet other women in the industry, but also forge some amazing connections that I still have today. Creating those connections, getting a really good education and experiencing those high-pressure situations has helped me develop my teaching and coaching skills. Discipline and determination, you have to have both of those in order to compete and contribute to your team. The teamwork values I learned, I can definitely apply those to my work today.”

Chow earned her pro card right out of university and was hired at Ardmore Golf Course. She was mentored by Jeff Palmer, who now serves as General Manager at Highland Pacific Golf. She said that experience opened her eyes to the diverse and different sectors in the golf industry, including teaching, event management and other general managerial roles at a club.

Today, Chow serves as a Teaching Professional at Squamish Valley Golf Club, where she is committed to growing the game through a focus on junior and women’s golf. Her focus on women’s golf has formed a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere at the club, promoting women’s participation and inclusion.

“This year, I’m really focusing on ladies’ golf. The programs that I’m offering are specific to ladies that have never picked up a club, they want to start but they don’t know how. These programs are offered in a very easy sense, it’s not a huge commitment for them. It’s a very introductory and simple way to introduce them to golf,” said Chow.

“We’re also focused on running our Monday night ladies’ program, focusing on the social aspect. They get an hour of instruction before they go out, getting little tips and tricks to make their route easier. Then of course, there’s the social aspect afterwards where they can enjoy some drinks and get to know the golf community in Squamish.”

Chow shared a key to her success: participating in as many events and initiatives as possible and staying open to new connections and experiences.

“From a teaching standpoint, be as creative and go to as many events as possible, whether that’s playing events, social events, within the golf industry I think it’s really important to foster relationships. Getting your connections up, getting your name out there and allowing people to see who are as a person and what you stand for, that’s very important. Introduce yourself to people you don’t normally introduce yourself to.”

Exploring connections and growing her teaching business has led Chow to pursue a unique project to spread the love of the game and offer opportunities to those who may not be exposed to the sport. Her goal is to expand internationally and offer golf programs to countries abroad where there is less infrastructure and support for golfers. Last year, she was working to set up a program in India. Unfortunately, work visas between India and Canada were suspended due to a political disagreement between the nations, but she continues to pursue this goal and hopes to expand to other countries and make an impact through offering new experiences to a diverse audience.

“The project’s designed to help people who don’t have access to golf, to be able to work with PGA professionals like me and start to grow the game in parts of the world that don’t necessarily have golf in their lives. Travelling and seeing places that don’t have access to golf, I love building an experience for someone that’s easily accessible. One of my goals is to work with other cultures and integrate golf in a unique way. I’m excited to see what the future holds, and how many lives I can touch.”

For her final thoughts, Chow expressed her gratitude for the ways in which women’s golf has grown in the province, and the many opportunities for female golfers to shine.

“I’m really happy with where women’s golf is heading. I think this younger generation coming up has a lot of opportunities that maybe some of us didn’t have in the past,” said Chow. “I’m really grateful for other women in golf, the other female pros, ladies who are stepping up and branching their own paths to make sure golf is accessible as it is to the men, creating those equal opportunities. I’m really looking forward to what everyone brings to the table, seeing those unique ideas come to fruition and hopefully collaborating with a lot of those ladies who are working hard.”

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