Celebrating Black History Month
LEADING THE WAY
Kristy Edwards is Opening Doors in her Community.
After beginning her career teaching at the college level and working in educational publishing, Kristy Edwards made the jump into a full-time career in golf. Nowadays, she is the general manager of Jackson Park Golf Course, an Indigo Sports-managed facility in Chicago.
What made you decide to get into the golf business?
I played golf after college and later began volunteering at Glenwoodie Golf Course, coaching the First Tee and organizing golf outings. After doing that for a few years, my best friend challenged me to think about how I could work in the golf industry full-time. After my mother passed in 2013, I had a tremendous life shift. I began to look at life differently and think more about doing what I truly enjoyed. I decided to pursue a job in golf management. I didn’t care about the salary shift or the career I was leaving behind.
Why is Black History Month important to you?
It reminds me of who I am and where I’m from, as well as the beauty and strength of those who came before me. My mother’s side of the family believed in deep family traditions, and storytelling was a part of that. I grew up listening to vivid family stories that also connected to significant moments in history. My mother attended Emmett Till’s funeral. I’ve heard my oldest sister recall the day Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. So yes, it’s very important to see Black History Month highlighted and to hear others share their stories.
How is the golf industry taking strides in making the game more accessible?
The golf industry has made efforts to make the game more diverse, but more needs to be done. It’s good to see junior golf programs in minority neighborhoods. However, they need to grow. On the Tour level, it’s nice to see exemptions given to young African American golfers who have aspirations to play professionally. Opportunities like those are promising, but few. In operations, I’d like to see recruiting programs that target HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges/Universities). These historic institutions of higher learning are filled with bright minds ready to rock the world.
What are you doing with your team and/or at your facility to promote a
My courses offer youth programs through the First Tee and Bob-O-Links organization. Many of our participants are minority juniors. Getting kids started early is so important. We make our golf course and driving range accessible for these kids. I’ve coached with the First Tee of Greater Chicago as well as with the Chicago Junior Golf League. It’s such a thrill to be a part of that. I’ve been exposed to diverse environments throughout my life, so as a manager, I’ve always made an effort to hire diverse teams.