On the first day, it snowed at the Women’s PGA Cup. Twin Warriors Golf Club Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico saw wind gusts exceeding 30 mph. The temperature felt like it was in the 20s. The Swedes even asked PGA officials “Is it playable?”
Although the Americans were trailing early, they rallied over the weekend to win second Women’s PGA Cup. Joanna Coe was asked many questions by students after returning to Merion Golf Club about how she battled the elements and won the clutch.
Coe, who is the director of instruction at the historic club, brings a competitive drive and an infectious personality to a place that’s synonymous for excellence.
She said, “Everyone eats sleeps and breathes Golf here.”
Coe keeps a Nelly Korda poster in her classroom because she believes there should be more focus on the most beautiful women in the world.
Suzy Whaley describes Coe, the first female president of PGA of America as a hard worker whose friendly and genuine demeanor makes others want to be around.
Whaley stated that Whaley loves the game and is full of joy when she’s near it. “This smart hiring was very enjoyable.”
Whaley applauds Merion’s hiring of a woman for the message it sends in an industry that still has a difficult climb for women and minorities. But she also wants to emphasize that Coe was the right fit for the job.
Whaley stated that while golf has made some progress, there is still much to be done to empower women and minorities. Boards, employers, and owners are still heavily male-skewed, and our human nature shows that we hire people just like ourselves.
Whaley still answers the phone at her facility even though she is busy. Sometimes, the person on the other side wants to speak with the golf professional.
Julie Garner, Rollins’ first coach, saw Coe compete at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club. Peggy Kirk Bell, a Rollins alumna and World Golf Hall of Famer, was already on the course when Garner arrived. She had seen Coe at the range and was stunned by her skill.
Garner said, “There’s something special about Pine Needles and of course Mrs. Bell.” It was magical to see it all come together.
Coe, who was a four-time All-American would lead Rollins to victory in 2008 NCAA Division II while also winning individually. Coe also won the Ross Resorts Invitational in Mid Pines. This was an additional win as Mid Pines belonged to the Bell family.
After competing on the Epson Tour for many years and failing to earn her LPGA card at Q-School, Coe found a job posting on LinkedIn as the assistant director for instruction at Baltimore Country Club.
Bruce Chelucci was her instructor and she grew up “nerding out” about golf swings. She was a teenager and had attended his clinics. Then, as a teenager, she took his lessons on the golf course and absorbed his teaching methods. It felt natural to follow in Chelucci’s footsteps.
“He didn’t charge me for lessons,” said Coe. “It was just an understanding that we were going to build something special together. Let’s just help someone out.”
After five years Coe was promoted as director of instruction at Baltimore. He then moved to Merion, March 2022.
Coe, who no longer plays full-time professionally, is still competitive in PGA events. She notes that she has played in more than fifteen this year, even though many are just one-day. She was the Middle Atlantic Women’s PGA Player of the year six times, and she was the OMEGA Women’s PGA Professional Player of the year in 2020.
Coe defeated Braden Shattuck, Rolling Green Golf Club in Springfield to win the 2022 Conestoga Classic. In that round, she made nine birdies. She competes in mixed events, and Coe has a lower yardage.
Garner said, “She’s meant compete,” referring to the epic ping-pong battles Coe had with Lewis Duncan, former president of Rollins.
Her fifth KPMG Women’s PGA Championship will take place at Baltustrol next year. Already talk has started about a party bus with supporters arriving to witness the 2023 event.
Merion hosts 19 USGA championships, as well as a number of major events, including the 2026 U.S. Open. There is a lot of excitement around elite-level golf. Amateur, 2030 U.S. Open, and 2034 U.S. Women’s Open.
Coe hosted many children at a junior clinic featuring Swoop, the Philadelphia Eagles’ mascot, during the Curtis Cup at Merion last June. Coe didn’t know that she would one day be able to grow the game, even though she was working with Chelucci at junior clinics.
She said that Merion was an unattainable dream location. “The first time that I played here, I couldn’t stop shaking the whole day.”
It’s now home.