When Kelly Kilgo was growing up in Watkinsville,
Ga., about 10 miles south of Athens, she never imagined the game of golf would
end up being such an important part of her life. Her dad and grandad both
“dabbled” in the sport (Kelly’s description), and she would occasionally join
them for a carefree round at the local course. Certainly nothing serious, just
a nice way to spend time with the family.
Golf’s significance would come into focus a
little later while Kelly was attending the University of Georgia. She needed to
complete an internship to fulfill her degree requirement and decided to apply
for a six-month USGA Boatwright Intern position with the Women’s Metropolitan
Golf Association in Elmsford, N.Y.
Kelly was offered the position not long after
her interview, so she packed her bags and made her way to Elmsford. It was the
start of a new journey in more ways than one. Kelly always loved sports and though she wasn’t an avid golfer at the
time, she fell in love with the golf industry during her internship. So much
so, that she decided to make it her career path. After her time with the
Women’s MGA, Kelly took a full-time position at The Stanwich Club in Greenwich,
Conn., where she was in charge of the golf shop and tournament administration.
Working at one of the most historic clubs in
the Northeast was a fantastic experience, but Kelly soon realized that what she
really wanted to do was work for a state golf association.
That wish came true at the end of 2005 when
she joined the TGA as Membership Services Coordinator. Kelly has now been with
the TGA nearly 16 years. During her tenure she has held numerous jobs, including
Executive Director of the Women’s Texas Golf Association, which merged with the
TGA in 2015, and Course Rating and Fun Golf Manager. In 2019, Kelly moved to
her current position as Managing Director of the TGA Foundation and Director of Outreach.
“The Foundation is the charitable arm of the
TGA, with a mission of ensuring golf in Texas continues to grow and
prosper,” Kilgo said. “The focus is on introducing
young boys and girls to the game of golf. We help them discover the joys and
opportunities the game provides with programs and initiatives, such as
scholarships, internships, Winners’ Program and Youth on Course, which provides
young people with access to golf for $5 or less at designated facilities.”
A great example of how the Foundation’s
programs can help a young person begin a lifelong affair with the game of golf
is Julia Gregg of Farmers Branch.
“I first met Julia at a Winners’ Program in
Dallas when she was 5 years old,” Kilgo said. “She continued to develop through
the TGA, first on the Legends Junior Tour and then in our big amateur events.
In 2018 she finished runner-up in the 97th Women’s Texas Amateur at San Antonio
Country Club and ended up earning a scholarship to play at the University of
Arkansas. It’s just been amazing to watch her progress over the years and it’s one
of the big reasons why we love doing what we do.”
While the Foundation’s focus is on creating
the next generation of Texas golfers, Outreach is designed for the vast
majority of new and current players who enjoy the recreational and social
aspects of the game. Included among the Outreach offerings are the Fun Golf
Series presented by PGA TOUR Superstore, the Texas Shamble, Golf 101 and much
“The goal of Outreach is to make playing golf
and having fun synonymous,” Kilgo said. “The atmosphere at every Outreach event
is very relaxed. We create an easy-going environment where recreational golfers
have a chance to get out on the course, have a good time and hopefully make
some new friends while doing so.”
Kelly has stepped up her game too,
while she’s been with the TGA. She has moved on from occasionally dabbling in
the sport to full-fledged avid golfer now and tries to get out on the course at
least once a week. Her vivacious spirit and love of the game are infectious,
which becomes readily apparent at any Foundation or Outreach get-together and
makes her a natural at getting others excited about playing golf and having fun.