There’s a misconception that the PGA is for men, and the LPGA is for women.
That is true of the golf tours.
But it’s not entirely true of the teaching and club professional organizations that use the initialisms, and Paige Cribb is one of the best examples as a pioneer in the PGA of America.
The Georgetown native and director of student support for Coastal Carolina University’s PGA Golf Management Program has become the first female president of the Carolinas PGA, which is the largest of the PGA of America’s 41 sections.
She is just the fourth woman to ever serve as a president of a PGA section.
“I’m honored and thrilled. We’re the largest section, so I’m pretty psyched about that,” said Cribb, who took over the title last week. “It has been an incredible week.”
The PGA of America is the organization for club and teaching golf professionals with approximately 28,000 members, and about 1,000 of them are women. The CPGA has about 2,000 members, including roughly 100 women.
Current PGA of America vice president Suzy Whaley of Connecticut is the first woman ever elected to serve as an officer of the national organization.
The other section presidents before Cribb were Leslie Core-Drevecky in Colorado, Sue Fiscoe in Northern California and Kathy Swanson in Minnesota, and Dede Moriarty is on track to become the next president in Northern California.
Cribb ran and was voted to serve as one of 10 CPGA area directors before beginning her historic ascension to the presidency by winning a vote against one other CPGA professional for the organization’s secretary position in 2014.
That two-year term was followed by two years as the vice president and the presidential vote last Monday. Cribb will finish her eight years in office with a two-year term as past president.
Will Mann, the director of CCU’s PGM Program, is a past president of the PGA of America, and Cribb bounced the idea of running for CPGA office off him.
“When I ran for secretary, to sit there and say I’m going to be the first female to run for secretary doesn’t cross my mind,” Cribb said. “Here’s the business I’ve been in, really the only business I could think to be in, it’s all I ever thought of. I’m just doing it to serve.”
All offices are volunteer positions. “But you’re giving back and serving, and it shows you care enough to stick your neck out there,” Cribb said. “You’re tasked with doing what’s best to serve the members and grow the game.”
Cribb, 49, played multiple sports growing up, including basketball, volleyball and golf at Winyah and Georgetown high schools, and was introduced to golf through her father and grandfather at the former nine-hole Georgetown Country Club.
“I remember just going out with them and I had a club and just hitting it around,” Cribb said. “Then at the age of nine there was a junior tournament and they entered me in it, and I won. When it came time to take pictures supposedly I hid. I was embarrassed because I beat all the boys and they were my friends.”
Cribb signed to play at N.C. State before the school dropped women’s golf, so she played at UNC Wilmington instead and aspired to play pro golf. Near the end of her collegiate career she determined she preferred to be involved in the business of the game — a decision that was reinforced after a few mini-tour events — and she entered the PGA program about a year after graduation.
The predominant focus of the LPGA was teaching, while the PGA offered a more business-focused path.
“Honestly there never was any other business I think I would have gotten in,” Cribb said. “And to me, the LPGA was strictly teaching, and they were good at it. But PGA of America was business and I didn’t think I wanted to just teach, and as a PGA member I could do a little bit of everything, so I went that route.”
Cribb’s first job as a PGA apprentice was at Legends Resort in 1993. She became an assistant at Heritage Golf Club, Wachesaw East and the now-closed Bay Tree Golf Plantation, and worked as an instructor and salesperson at Charleston National Golf Club before returning to Wachesaw East for seven years, including five as head pro.
Cribb tried to keep her pro shops and staff welcoming. “As a golf professional you’re an actor. Have fun with it,” Cribb said. “When golfers come into the pro shop they don’t want to see you [complaining]and moaning. Have fun with them.”
She was hired at CCU in Oct. 2008 by then program director Charlie Thrash, who had been the general manager at Bay Tree during Cribb’s tenure there.
The PGM program awards a four-year business degree with a specialization in golf management that includes steps toward PGA of America membership, a playing ability test and 16 months of internships. There are about 250 students in the program.
At CCU, Cribb serves as a golf instructor, Level I class teacher, academic advisor, and club repair instructor. She also advises many of her students on life. “I love the fact that you are a mentor to the students,” said Cribb, who still gives junior instruction at Wachesaw East. “You get to know them and to see them get out is a lot of fun.”
Once her eight-year run as a CPGA officer is completed, Cribb may seek to join Whaley as a national officer.
The first step would be becoming one of 14 district directors through a vote, overseeing the three PGA sections of the Carolinas, Mid Atlantic and Kentucky. It’s a national position that would put her on the PGA board of directors, and begins with shadowing the district director for a year.
“I have thought about that. I would say that’s on my radar,” Cribb said.