What I Learned as One of the First Women in Leadership at My Country Club

Meet Teresa Gallo, who would say that she accidentally found her way from a casual, disinterested golfer to serving as the first female president of the board of trustees at Glendale Country Club in Bellevue, Washington. She shares the changes she’s seen in the once male-dominated sport and how she blazed trails as a woman in golf leadership. You’ll appreciate her encouragement to women in leadership and women who want to get involved in the leadership of their own clubs.

My relationship with golf is truly a love/hate story. Growing up in the ‘60s, I had always equated golf as the proverbial “good old boys” sport. I didn’t see a place for women in the sport, nor did I really understand it to be a sport women wanted to participate in.

My career spanned four decades in sales in the consumer electronics industry, an industry where I was one of very few women in ownership and leadership roles. I was busy running two companies and raising a family. Golf just looked like a lot of time that I didn’t have to invest.

As is often the case, it was a spouse who changed my mind. My husband at the time got bit by the golf bug and wanted me to “enjoy” the game with him. We made the decision to join Glendale Country Club, but I was still busy and didn’t have much time to spend trying to figure out this crazy sport.

Eventually, my kids got older, my businesses were at a point I could disconnect a little, and I was able to begin participating in a women’s golf group. Because of my career in male-dominated industries, I really didn’t have many female friends. Glendale and golf opened a new world to me of wonderful women, who have, over the years, become an incredible support system and close friends.

Women in golf leadership quotes:

“Because of my career in male-dominated industries, I really didn’t have many female friends. Glendale and golf opened a new world to me of wonderful women, who have, over the years, become an incredible support system and close friends.” -Teresa Gallo, First Female Board President at Glendale Country Club

I was first invited to join the women’s board, which governs all the events associated with women’s golf at the club. Glendale is unique as a private country club where women had been working for many years to create equal tee-time access to the course, and overall equality for women at the club. Leadership and volunteering are something I take very seriously. I personally believe if there is a need, and I can help, then I will offer my time. As a part of this board, I began to get involved with the larger, overall governing body of the club, affectionately known as The Big Board.

During this time, a spouse, most often a woman, could not serve on the big board. Of course, that didn’t sit well with my overall philosophies. I felt that if I was going to be a member of a club, that club had to have equal access for all. After all, if a husband (proprietary member) didn’t want to serve the club but his wife did, she was as much an equal member of the club as he. I was the proprietary member, so I found that I did in fact have a voice (but my husband didn’t). Subsequently, I was invited to join the board of trustees. It turned out that several of the trustees were wanting more female presence on the board and in the leadership of the club.

After a year of serving as a trustee, I was invited to join the executive committee which meant I would be in line after three years to become Glendale’s first woman president. I was very honored to be asked to join this committee, but I had to search very deeply as to whether or not I was ready to blaze this trail. I knew there were factions at the club that saw my position on the board as “token,” and I wasn’t sure I wanted to once again take on a role in a dominated male world. Glendale was my place of enjoyment, friendship and peace; did I really want the spotlight on me?

After much discussion, I made the decision to take the position and earned my way to Glendale’s first Woman President. I’m often asked what this time was like. I will always say it was the best and worst of times. We had many successes: adding more women on the board of trustees, remodeling the clubhouse, improving the golf course and reassessing membership status, to name only a few initiatives. I received both support and non-support from the membership, and I needed some very thick skin against criticism and comments.

Would I do it again? Without a doubt! In fact, one of my dearest friends will finally follow me (seven years later) as 2022 president. When she asked me if she should take the position, I wholeheartedly told her, “ABSOLUTELY.”

I am now retired fully, and golf is truly no longer on my love/hate list (well, maybe once in a while when my game goes south). It is a community, fun, relaxation, great friends and great experiences. I wouldn’t trade one minute of it!

Teresa’s story makes us proud to feature her and her club in our product photos. Her heart of service and courage to crush the status quo have made her a strong advocate for women in golf. She truly embodies everything KINONA stands for! We are inspired to follow her lead, unapologetically bringing wisdom, grit, and fierce determination to the course and daily life.