Pepper backs Libby, not Whaley, for PGA secretary


Suzy Whaley’s presumed path to the PGA presidency might have a few obstacles.

Dottie Pepper, the ESPN golf broadcaster and an independent director for the PGA of America, has thrown her support behind Russ Libby for the PGA secretary position. A vote will be held Nov. 22 at the PGA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis.

If Whaley were to be named secretary – citing an unnamed source, Golfweek reported on Oct. 21 that she was the “leader in the clubhouse” – she would be on track to become the first woman to assume the PGA of America presidency, in 2020. Whaley, a PGA professional from Farmington, Ind., qualified for the 2003 Greater Hartford Open, becoming the first woman in 58 years to earn her way into a PGA Tour event.

Pepper’s support of Libby, a PGA member since 1992 and the current owner/general manager at Hidden Hills Country Club in Jacksonville, Fla., is notable given the tepid reaction by leading industry women in the wake of PGA president Ted Bishop’s removal because of sexist remarks on social media. Whaley, meanwhile, was one of the most outspoken on the topic, saying that she was “extremely disturbed” by Bishop’s comments and that they were “extremely insulting and sexist.”

Bob Ford, the legendary head pro at Seminole and Oakmont, has also backed Libby. The other candidate for PGA secretary is Michael Haywood of Tucson, Ariz., who has been endorsed by Hall of Famer Lanny Wadkins, among others.

On Libby’s website, Pepper wrote, “Our game is very much alive but it needs strong leadership from all quarters to ensure a healthy future. I am convinced that the PGA of America must lead the way and Russ is the choice who will add the most to the Board, the Officers and the leadership team at PGA headquarters. 

“Russ has all the credentials, skills, and experience at every level to represent the interests of PGA members in all career paths. He has shown me that his primary interest is to strengthen the organization and help mold it into a stronger collaborative work force. … Russ truly sees the big picture and electing him as the next PGA secretary will be a strong step in the right direction.”