For eight PGA and LPGA instructors and club professionals competing in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship this week, there is a unique path they each have taken to join a 156 field of membership at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
Whether her debut as PGA teaching professional Allie Knight from Knoxville, Tennessee, or a veteran like LPGA teaching professional Moira Dunn-Bohls from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who is 56.
Knight, 27, earned his PGA membership last November and made a niche for himself at Fairways and Greens Golf Center in Knoxville. She has also made two US amateur appearances and an application to get through the LPGA Tour Q-School.
Allie Knight, PGA
“From college golf in Middle Tennessee State to Q-School where there is so much pressure, I’ve had big tournaments to draw from,” Knight said. “I love the flexibility I have with my students, which gives me the opportunity to practice. It was worth helping so many different students. “
Coming to the Atlanta Athletic Club, Knight knows that some things in the game happen by magic. It took her just 21 putts on her way to a 14-under-par 58 to win a Pro-Am at Dandridge Golf and Country Club in Dandridge, Tennessee, on June 1st, 2020. It was a round for the ages despite the fact that she was playing a 5069 yard course.
“It was unreal. I was in a zone and made every putt I looked, ”Knight said. “I even threw a chip on the last hole, but made a 20-footer for birdie. After that it was hard to come back. It was the best golf I’ve ever played in my life. I was wondering if I would ever do that again? ”
LPGA Teaching & Club Professional Dunn-Bohls, 49, participated in the LPGA Tour for more than two decades, performing in 55 majors from 1995 to 2014. This is her 20th appearance at the Women’s PGA Championship and the first since KPMG title sponsor in 2015. She scored her best result in a major in that championship in 2005, taking a share of seventh place.
Moira Dunn-Bohls, LPGA
Dunn-Bohls also has a portion of course knowledge in his pocket. She was 22 when she stepped on the first tee at the Atlanta Athletic Club in 1994 to compete in the 1994 Eastern Women’s Amateur.
“It’s a wonderful golf course, beautiful with trees, doglegs, great greens and designed by one of my favorites, Robert Trent Jones Sr.,” said Dunn-Bohls, who lives in Tulsa for most of the year but teaches year round Golf season at Cedar Lake Club in Clayville, New York, where she grew up and played for most of her life.
Dunn-Bohls earned her place in the field this week by sharing fifth place in the Women’s PGA Stroke Play Championship last February at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
“It’s exciting. When you retire, you often lose the feeling of competition,” said Dunn-Bohls. “It’s great to have this opportunity. Although I have retired, I’ve never lost that competitive edge.”
This week marks Joanna Coe’s fifth big appearance. As the PGA Director of Instruction at the Baltimore Country Club, she teaches an average of 10 hours a week and has booked classes several months in advance. It will be Coe’s fourth consecutive KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, and each time she has taken something priceless.
Joanna Coe, PGA
“It’s not really possible to completely turn into a touring pro for the week because I am not,” said Coe. “At the end of the day, I’ll go and be an instructor again. I want to soak it all up during the week and watch the players, see their pace and their approach to different strokes. I will still be a student of the game and give that back to my students.
“I just try to focus on the pace and rhythm. I can be a great striker if I let myself be a striker. You never know if I’ll get that feeling for the greens and do a few putts. But I can’t suddenly change who I am. This week is going to be interesting. “
Coe said that with no time to get used to the Atlanta Athletic Club, she needed a skilled guide. She was looking for a caddy who was a member of the club who could handle a personal bag – Jacob Calamaro, a college golfer at East Carolina University.
Ashley Grier, a PGA Assistant Professional at Overbrook Golf Club in Bryn Mawr, Pa., Makes her third appearance at the championship after participating in 2018 and 2019. She was the Women’s PGA Professional Player of the Year 2020. This week her boyfriend Bud Lintelman is her caddy.
Ashley Grier, PGA
“When I go to my third championship, I know a little more what the golf courses will look like and what to expect,” said Grier. “For the first or second time, I was very excited to be there. But now I feel like I have a chance to play well. ”
Grier is the daughter of PGA Professional David Grier, the owner of Yingling’s Golf Center in Hagerstown, Maryland, which is literally in the front yard of the Grier family home. David and his wife Judy bought the center in 1990. The Grier family home has a mini golf driving range and an 18-hole par 3 putting course in the front yard.
“My dad always helped me and he probably loves golf more than anyone I know,” said Ashley. “He passed that on to me. He has influenced me a lot since I was five, but he probably gave me a club before that. ”
Since Grier works at Overbrook Golf Club, she has had a second coach in a trusted friend since she was a teenager. Overbrook PGA Head Professional Eric Kennedy grew up with David Grier at Yingling’s Golf Center.
“I’ve known Eric since I was 10 years old,” said Ashley. “He’s helped me now that I’m in Philadelphia. We teamed up last week to finish first in a Section Pro Assistant Championship. I was able to attend a few section events to prepare for this week.
Stephanie Connelly-Eiswerth, a PGA / LPGA Professional from Fleming Island, Florida, became a PGA Member in April and is a PGA Teaching Professional at Eagle Harbor Golf Club. This week marks her fourth career major, including her third consecutive KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Stephanie Connelly-Eiswerth, PGA / LPGA
Connelly-Eiswerth graduated from the University of Central Florida and took part in the Symetra Tour for seven years, but failed to qualify for the LPGA Tour.
“It was a good experience and had some great placings,” she said. “It’s been a great life and I wouldn’t trade it.”
Connelly-Eiswerth is a former golf coach at the University of North Florida. She is married to former PGA professional Adam Eiswerth, who attended Florida State University and is now a government contractor for the US Navy. Adam is going to be a caddy for his wife this week.
She also has ties with some of her competitors.
“I know Joanna (Coe) and Ashley (Grier) well and we played some local events together as juniors,” said Connelly-Eiswerth. And Joanna was a good mentor to me when I started and graduated from the PGA program. We played with her on the Symetra Tour for a few years. “
Austin, Texas, PGA Teaching Associate Alisa Rodriguez said this week was “a great opportunity for me to compete against some of the best players in the world and for my students to see myself as a teacher. Going out and attending my first LPGA event and that it’s a great chance to test my game. “
Alisa Rodriguez, PGA
Rodriguez is the lead instructor at the Balcones Country Club in Austin. She earned a championship spot by finishing fourth in the women’s 2021 PGA Stroke Play Championship. She recently finished 13th in the Texas Women’s Open in Dallas and 36th in her most recent Women’s All-Pro Tour event in Anna, Texas.
“Everyone cheers everyone, but we all have a common goal,” said Rodriguez, who gave up softball to play golf. “I now have several mentors. My UTEP college coach Jere Pelleitier has been a huge influence, and PGA Associate Chris Taylor has played a huge role in my teaching career. I worked for him at TopGolf for a few years.
“JJ Jennings, Director of Instruction at the Balcones Country Club I work for now, has been very helpful with teaching. I am in a special situation.
“Participating in the PGA program has opened up so many avenues for me to choose. “I’m not sure what I want to do for a living – teaching professionally, in a country club or at a college.”
LPGA Professional Sandra Changkija of Kissimmee, Fla., Expects to complete the PGA program by the end of the year. She qualified for the LPGA Tour in 2012 and had four top 10 finishes in her career before joining Walt Disney World Golf as an LPGA Professional last year. She won 16 tournaments at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Florida and is the only four-time Division II player of the year (2008-11).
Sandra Chankija, LPGA
This is her 13th big career start and her sixth appearance in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
“I’m very excited to play for KPMG,” said Changkija, who took a five-stroke victory in the Women’s PGA Stroke Play Championship last February. “I’ve played in several KPMG championships and I think they’re always good, tough courses. I’ve never played at the Atlanta Athletic Club, but I like Georgia courses that are hilly and tree-lined. “
LPGA Teaching Professional Samantha Morrell, Vice Champion of the Women’s PGA Stroke Play Championship 2021, starts for the second year in a row at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. She is employed by TPC Treviso Bay in Naples, Florida. Morrell is from North Kingstown, Rhode Island and was the 2018 Metropolitan PGA Section Women’s Stroke Play Champion.
Samantha Morrell, LPGA
“I’m excited to be doing my second championship (appearance),” said Morrell. “Even though 2020 was a COVID year and a lot of the tournament was different, I was still impressed by the size of it all. This year I will stick to my own schedule to be prepared for the event and spend less time comparing the preparation and level of detail with those of an experienced tour player. ”