Leigh-Jane Middleton has been appointed as the PGA of South Africa’s first female vice-chairperson.
Middleton has been a PGA professional for 18 years, the majority of which have been as the Head PGA Teaching Professional at the Bryanston Country Club Golf Academy.
Within the PGA of South Africa, Middleton took a lead role in the association’s Women in Golf taskforce that has aimed to reflect the R&A’s Women in Golf Charter and its drive for greater female representation in the game.
Louis Destroo, chairperson the PGA of South Africa, said they are extremely excited about this new era for the association, which this year is celebrating its centenary.
“The PGA is a non-gender non-race organisation. We’ve been heavily focused on a path towards greater diversity and inclusivity and Leigh-Jane has walked this journey with us as a member of our board of directors. She was an obvious candidate for this historic appointment as vice-chairperson.
“Leigh-Jane has that valuable quality of being able to manage emotions and expectations, which is key for any membership association. She has a calm way of leading, and her fellow members and the golf community hold her in high regard.”
Ivano Ficalbi, chief executive of the PGA of South Africa, also welcomed Middleton’s appointment and the message it sends to the greater golf community.
“In 2019 the PGA of South Africa, in line with the PGA World Alliance, committed to the R&A Women in Golf Charter. But we wanted to do more within that charter. So we launched our own Women in Golf taskforce and Leigh-Jane played a key role in this for us.
“Our women members make up 7% of our membership base. As far as we are aware, the only other PGA that has a higher percentage of women members than us is the PGA of Sweden, so we take our commitment to our female membership and the value they can add very seriously.
“We want more engagement with our women members and Leigh-Jane represents everything we seek to inspire in them. She runs her own business, she works at a high-profile club and runs a very good coaching academy there.
“Upon our submission, Leigh-Jane has also been accepted onto the R&A’s new 18-month programme for top leadership. So, we know that going forward she is going to add immense value in this new role.”
Middleton said she was excited and humbled to take up this new opportunity.
“I’m passionate about growing the game among women and would like to use my journey as an example. I think we have so many top women golfers who maybe can’t see a place for themselves on the tours and then think that’s where their journey in golf ends. We want them to realise the incredible opportunities there are within the PGA of South Africa and a career in the golf industry. The PGA gave me this and I truly feel responsible to give as many other women golfers out there the same opportunity.
“Golf has traditionally been a male-dominated environment but this is changing, and there are now equal opportunities in the game for women. I’m absolutely ecstatic about being able to represent this change, and I hope to add as much value as I can.”