Not long after she was named the 2007 Ontario and Canadian PGA Club Professional of the Year, Patty Howard is taking on a different role at the Sunningdale Golf and Country Club in London, Ont.
“Basically, I’m not going to be involved with the day-to-day operation in the golf shop, but I’m going to look after a number of other events at the club,” explained Howard, who will keep her director of golf title at Sunningdale.
Howard will be involved with charity events, invitational, member tournaments, junior golf promotions, orientation for new members and introduction to golf programs for female members just getting into the game, among other events. She will also be an honourary member of the club’s board of governors.
“I feel extremely fortunate because not many golf pros get that opportunity to move into retirement in a gradual way,” said Howard, who was diagnosed 10 years ago with rheumatoid arthritis, which causes the body’s immune system to attack healthy joints causing inflammation. It can also affect other organs.
“It was really, really bad when I was diagnosed and I literally could not pick a golf club out of a golf bag for probably three to five years,” said Howard. “I still did teaching and things like that, but I literally couldn’t pick up a glass of water.
“Along with arthritis, it isn’t just pain. There are other things involved and it’s more the feeling of flu-like symptoms or being very, very tired, so I have to watch the number of hours that I’m on my feet,” she said, adding that medication is helping her cause these days.
“There’s very, very long days at work in this business and this will give me the opportunity to still be involved at the club in a way that I totally enjoy and will give me more time to, hopefully, play a little bit more golf with the membership and be involved in a different way than I have in the past.”
As part of the transition, head professional Jason Wyatt will assume day-to-day operations.
“The last three or four years, I knew that this time was coming and we’d been working together very closely, so the transition will be just so simple because he’s already been working on all these things on a daily basis,” said Howard, who was inducted into the London Sports Hall of Fame this year.
“This really gives me the best of both worlds, to be able to stay in the business and I’m obviously very passionate about Sunningdale because that’s where I grew up and that’s where I first learned to play golf.”