Town Talk Features

Get to Know: Ali Wells

executive director, PGA Gateway Section | Trailblazer. Inspirational leader. Committed mentor. Ali Wells is all of these things. She is also the first female PGA professional to lead one of the organization’s prestigious 41 sections. And this year offers a little more excitement than most for the St. Louis section as it prepares to host the 100th PGA Championship in August at Bellerive Country Club. Committed to inspiring the next generation of young girls to follow their dreams, Wells is an impressive example of the leadership opportunities available for women in the $70 billion golf industry.

my title … 
I’ve been with the Gateway PGA for seven years but am in my first year as executive director. I feel very blessed to be in the position I am in and honored to be the first female PGA Professional executive director. I hope I am the first of many. We’re making strides because section staff across the country are employing more and more women.

my career path … 
I graduated from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs with a degree in marketing. Simultaneously, I went through the PGA’s Professional Golf Management Program and became a Class A PGA Professional upon graduation. My favorite internship was with the 2008 Senior U.S. Open at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. I knew then that I wanted my golf career to be in administration.

what led me to the gateway section …
I was director of youth golf at the PGA Center for Learning and Performance in Port St. Lucie, Florida, for three seasons before joining the Gateway PGA team. The  connections I made there and everything I learned prepared me to be successful here more than any of my previous jobs.

rewards of my job …
It allows me to do something I love to impact others. Whatever the day holds—running a PGA HOPE program for military veterans, planning member education summits, or getting to talk to the community about the power of golf and the role the PGA Professional plays—I get to serve others using my talents in administration and my love of golf.

advice to young female golfers … 
Be fearless and never stop learning. I network and connect with anyone I can. I ask questions, and I soak up as much as possible. Golf is a fantastic career, and not just for men. My favorite quote that I live by is, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

how the pga gives back … 
The Gateway PGA REACH Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Gateway PGA Section, and its mission is to improve lives through the community of golf through three pillars: youth, military, and diversity and inclusion. We are particularly proud of our North St. Louis initiative, which works to keep kids in school by filling the vast amount of idle time after school with positive relationships, educational assistance and programs. We partner with organizations in the area and have raised more than $1 million for these partners and programs since 2013.

sports i love besides golf …
I enjoy mountain biking and play on three different slow-pitch softball teams. And I’ve recently picked up a new pastime: camogie. It’s a Gaelic stick-and-ball sport! I also enjoy playing basketball and any outdoor activity.

how i wind down … 
I love being active, so when I have downtime or am looking for something fun to do, I gravitate outdoors. I don’t know all of the great places in St. Louis yet, but I really like the Clayton area to grab a good meal and a drink.

favorite golf course … 
I’ve played courses all over the country, but my favorite is probably Boone Valley on the outskirts of St. Louis. I would love to get the chance to play Augusta National someday, but for now, it’s just a dream!

favorite golfer …
Josh Riley! He is one of my mentors: an incredible human being, a giving leader and a consummate professional. He is the former Gateway PGA executive director, and if I can be half the leader he is, I will consider that a success.

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