Every weekend, many of us spend time watching whichever pro tournament is taking place, wondering just how in the world it’s possible for a player to be so consistent and so precise in a game which we mortals struggle with. Then again, that’s why they’re called professionals—becoming one is no easy task.
Imagine, however, being one of the top performers in the game yet also having to overcome stereotypes and assumptions that come with being among a small minority in the business. But Cheryl Anderson is the perfect example of a female golf professional holding her own against the male-dominated golf establishment.
Since becoming a teaching professional in 1991 after a solid college playing career at Rutgers, Anderson has earned a plethora of accolades. She was the 2006 National LPGA Teacher of the Year, and since 2000 has been one of Golf for Women
magazine’s 50 Top Women Teachers in America. And in 2004, she received the Met PGA Section Women’s Player of the Year award for a record fifth consecutive golf season.
In 2002, Anderson had a momentous year, becoming the first woman to win all three of the Metropolitan PGA women’s events in one seson: The Metropolitan Women’s Open, the Met Women’s Stroke Play Championship and the Met Women’s Match Play Championship. In that same year, she was also runner-up in the LPGA’s National Club Professional Championship in Southern Pines, NC and in the LPGA’s Northeast Section Championship in Manassas, VA.
With all of these accomplishments, it’s clear that Anderson makes a very qualified teacher. Yet in spite of all this, Anderson still makes an uphill climb through the sport. She says the fact that the PGA has around 28,000 members, but only around 2,000 are women, shows how male-dominated golf really is. But Anderson adds that “there are many pluses that come from being in the minority. A woman pro stands out at a golf club, and women gravitate toward me simply because they feel they can relate to me better as a golfer. What’s more, men eventually seek me out because I’m teaching their wives, and through word of mouth my good reputation brings in many male students.”
Those who were less than supportive of Anderson’s path only strengthened her desire to improve her game. “Not being taken seriously or feeling resistance truly drove me to become the best player I could be,” she says. “I felt that people would only respect me if I could actually hit the shots I was teaching, so I played and practiced relentlessly for 15 years, until I had my first child. I never would have accomplished all the things I have had it not been to prove to everyone that I actually could.”
Those fortunate enough to have taken lessons with Anderson appreciate both her knowledge and her style. One amateur student, Dr. Jeff Kramer of Huntington, recently took a lesson with Anderson, and was very impressed. “I found her to be very thorough and comprehensive,” he says. “She was able to look at my entire swing rather than focus on changing small components of it. She integrated my stance, my body and arm motions, and my follow-through into one uniform movement based on my body’s abilities and limitations. By practicing the mechanics she taught me, I’ve been hitting the ball straight more consistently. And throughout our lesson, she was very patient and also concise in her guidance.”
As this example shows, Anderson does not always see herself as an ambassador of women’s golf, but of golf in general. She continues to teach as head instructor at the Mike Bender Golf Academy
in Lake Mary, FL, and has authored numerous instruction articles in Golf for Women magazine, Met Golfer mag
azine and Golf Digest Woman magazine. Her book Teach Yourself Visually Golf, which contains detailed pictures and instruction on how to improve your golf game, lets players study Anderson’s lessons at home. Both the women and men of the golfing world are fortunate to have Cheryl Anderson around.
Earning the honor of PGA Teacher of the Year is pretty tough stuff; it’s the highest honor a golf instructor can earn. And Cheryl Anderson’s boss, PGA instructor
Mike Bender, just happened to receive
the 2009 award.
The award itself was created in 1986, and its recipients include such greats as Manuel de la Torre, Dr. Gary Wiren, Jim Flick, Harvey Penick, Hank Haney, Jim McLean, Chuck Cook, Dr. Jim Suttie, and Martin Hall. Bender, who teaches at Timacuan Golf Club in Lake Mary, FL, is known for the significant improvement of his students, which include top PGA players. Bender was very excited to win this year’s award, saying that “There is no other award that means as much to a golf instructor as National Teacher of the Year. I will do my best to live up to the legacy of the teachers whose names are already on the award.”