Kathy Bissell received the prestigious Women in the Golf Industry President’s Award Thursday evening at the Citrus Club hosted by Club Corp and EWGA. Christina Ricci, WIGI president presented the award.
Kathy Bissell began her professional career in advertising as an ad agency copywriter in Ohio, which seemed like the logically path having earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a Masters in Advertising both from University of Illinois.
Yet, it didn’t take long before this curious-minded woman discovered she wanted more from her career. A new door opened, and she was offered a job with a golf publication called Ohio Golfer. Not a golfer, yet a quick learner, Kathy delved into the sport soaking up all the knowledge she could, writing interesting stories on golf-related topics, many of them finding their way onto the pages of popular golf magazines.
On one particular assignment she was asked to interview two top executives in La Quinta, Calif., who were involved with the PGA West property development. She must have made some birdies on that interview, as they quickly offered her a job to spearhead PR and media relations for their organization. It was Kathy Bissell who helped launch the PR campaign for the first PGA West Course (Stadium Course) followed by three more PGA West courses plus four more esteemed golf courses, several of them earning status as “Top 100” courses.
Along her career journey she developed plenty of connections and a vast network of friends within the industry. As a writer and publicist she covered everything from new course openings to PGA TOUR events, and of course, major championships too.
Next, she entered the world of television. With a lofty idea for a golf-related TV show, Kathy approached the networks but was turned down on her first go around. Yet, a year later, she received a green light with a cable network. Kathy spent the next 10 years in television alongside the likes of PGA TOUR Player Fred Couples and other fan favorites. The Golf Show was a success. It became nationally-syndicated and served as the pinnacle of her game, that is, her career.
Kathy found her calling and coordinated all facets of the show—with interviews on a variety of topics— everything from golf instruction and equipment reviews to destination golf travel and lifestyle. She produced more than 260 television shows, and as she stated, “I had the time of my life.”
Kathy’s other accomplishments include her detailed curation of exhibits for the World Golf Hall of Fame featuring Golf Greats Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson. This was no easy feat as she carefully coordinated all the media (print and digital) plus memorabilia for the enormous and impressive exhibit trailing more than 50 significant years in golf.
Kathy also authored three books, Fred Couples: Golf’s Reluctant Superstar and Venus on The Fairway (co-authored with former LPGA player Debbie Meisterlin Keller) and Championship Swimming, (co-authored with Olympian Tracey McFarlane Mirande).
Kathy attributes her innate passion for work to her family. Her mother was a dedicated director of nursing and her dad was a self-employed real estate and insurance broker (and a serious golfer in his own right), a six-time club champion— and her mother won the women’s club champion title twice. Kathy’s drive for the game stayed in media. That’s where she scored best.
No question, Kathy’s golf-business career has been extraordinary. Today, she serves as Vice President of Coldwell Banker Commercial Golf Course Sales, overseeing multi-million dollar transactions. And when she’s not selling golf courses she is still writing about them; as a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and a columnist for the Ponte Vedra Recorder. She is also a regular contributor to Fansided, which is affiliated with ProGolfNow.com.
Well, here’s a little more history about this amazing woman and it has to do with Women in the Golf Industry…WIGI.
Several years ago, Kathy’s daughter, (now also a professional businesswoman and the executive director of Girlstart in Austin, TX) suggested to her mom that she should consider starting a network group for women who work in golf.
Kathy’s first reaction, “Yeah, right, who would do that?” Then, she thought about it, and called her friend, Alice Dye, and ran the concept by her. “What a great idea,” exclaimed Alice. “Yes, Kathy, we do need a women’s networking organization in golf!”
History emerged. In the fall of 2001, Kathy, Alice Dye and 9 other forward-thinking women formed Women in the Golf Industry (WIGI). The core mission of the organization was connection. At the time, being a woman in the business of golf was no easy feat. It was still somewhat a man’s game/world. But these 11 trailblazing women had the fortitude and vision to power connections for females who held careers within the golf industry.
Kathy has continued to serve on the Board of Directors for WIGI and is past president of the organization. She continues to offer sage advice to colleagues, and most importantly, takes time to help mentor young professional women entering the golf business.
Thank you, Kathy for all that you are… and all that you do for women in golf, and for the game of golf. We are honored to present the 2016 Women in the Golf Industry President’s Award to You!