Trimble leaned into her experiences to create Fore Hire, which assists women players in recognizing golf industry job opportunities, making connections and transitioning to the next phase of their career
For athletes in any sport — amateur or professional — one aspect of the journey rarely spoken of is life after sports.
For Courtney Trimble, firsthand experience with that transitional period and all of the challenges that came with it inspired her to launch Fore Hire, an organization focused on assisting golfers with their move from playing careers into the workforce.
One way Trimble is facilitating that move is with the first Women Who Want to Work in Golf Program, a three-day educational and networking event to be held May 21-23 in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Trimble was born in Duluth, Georgia, the youngest of three children. She grew up playing sports because that’s what her older brothers were doing. She was exposed to golf by her parents, later became an All-American at Auburn University and played on the victorious 2002 U.S. Curtis Cup team, and then turned professional, playing on what is now known as the Epson Tour.
Trimble, who played in the 2002 and 2004 U.S. Women’s Open, recorded four top-five finishes in 37 Futures Tour starts. After a couple of years, though, Trimble realized, “I think I want to do something else with my life."
Her first post-coaching career steps were as a consultant for the Women’s Golf Coaches Association and director for Women’s Western Golf Association.
Still, Trimble had the idea for Fore Hire gnawing at her.
In this Q&A with The First Call’s Emily Waldon, Trimble talks about her journey as a former professional golfer, her life as a coach and her drive to speak into the lives of the next generation.
The First Call: For those who may not know your story, why don't you start off with a nutshell of your background and how it carried you to where you are right now?
Courtney Trimble: I loved my time as a professional golfer, and I met so many amazing people. You travel the country, you're meeting different people, you're exposed to different things. I was fortunate to get the opportunity to go back to Auburn, which was to work for Kim Evans, who was my coach as a player and really has been a mentor to me for a long time. I was there for three years as an assistant and then ended up getting the head coaching job at the University of Central Florida, and I was there for another three years. Then I got offered a coaching job at the University of Louisville, and I was there for seven years.
After coaching, I began to do some work for the Women's Golf Coaches Association. I started a mentorship program, and that's really where I started to see things from a different light. I wasn't coaching anymore and I had a lot of time to sit and see what was happening within our industry as coaches, but then also seeing this big push to get more women into golf and playing golf, which is amazing and how they utilize it with business.
I thought to myself, "How do we take the women who already know how to play golf at a high level and help them get into better roles post-playing careers?" It also started with the coaching association, “Why aren't more women getting into college coaching?” I was sitting in this unique seat of, “All right, mentoring coaches and putting them together and then not seeing enough enter the business, but then also seeing my former players, where are they going?”
I could see all the intangible skills that people have as golfers, as collegiate golfers. I really just wanted to be part of this solution of, “How do I help these golfers get connected to better jobs?” So, after sitting on this business idea for nearly two years and talking to different people — but never really doing it — my husband finally said in fall 2021, "Either launch the business or get a job. Stop talking about it."
TFC: When you were playing, who were maybe one or two people who were instrumental in your life, either on or off the course? Who really showed you the value of having someone to speak into your life as a young athlete and then be able to inspire you to want to do the same for other players?
CT: I think Kim Evans, for sure, who was not only my coach, but then was my boss. Then as I had various roles in life and after I moved on from being a player, she was certainly still there as that person. And then my instructor, Chan Reeves, who is now at Sea Island but was at the Atlanta Athletic Club, which is where I grew up playing for many years, was always the person who would give me the voice of reason, give me the kick in that rear when I needed it, and give me the hug. Just inspired me to be the best I could be. Once I decided to stop playing, he still was very supportive of me, and through every phase of my career has been one of those people.
TFC: Being a former athlete yourself, what would you say are really the biggest challenges — mentally, physically, emotionally — to making that jump from the life of a player to being more in the business world. What is that challenge like for former athletes? And how would you say you learned to navigate through that and get to the point where you are right now?
CT: Well, I think for me personally, I didn't love going to practice anymore. I still loved the competition, but I didn't like all the other things that went with it and I thought, "Oh, OK. Maybe there's another place for me to be able to share my knowledge and pour into people." So I was fortunate to get the opportunity to go into coaching. But I think as I have conversations with women that are looking to either stop playing professional golf or they're coming out of college, or even helping a lot of people that are mid-career, maybe they've been working five, six, seven, 10 years and they're like, "What's next?"
For women in particular, we also feel like it's a failure. If I stop playing, then I'll have failed. And as I get further into this path with Fore Hire, it's about teaching them that you're not a failure. Let's say you played professional golf for three, four, seven ... however many years, it's no different than changing to the next job. I think it's getting athletes to reframe their mindset that you're not a failure and that their identity does not come with that sport.
But the reality is a lot of people who have entrenched themselves in whatever sport don't know what to do. "I don't know what I like," or "I don't know what I'm good at." So there's some self-discovery there too. That's the scary piece, so they say "Well, I'll just keep playing golf because it's what I know."
I had someone that I helped say, "Oh my gosh, I was born for sales. How did I not know about this?" But she wouldn't have maybe taken that leap because it wasn't comfortable. It's so hard to just pull yourself away from the situation and see the bigger picture when you're in it. I know that for women every day it is about having that confidence to take the step forward, to get out of your comfort zone and move forward in that next realm of life.
So educating the employers about what these people have in intangible skills is one of my biggest goals, so that they will look at someone's resume and say, "Hey, OK, this person might not have the exact experience, but they have this or these other things that, once they've learned the business, will help them become super successful."
TFC: What was the impetus for this upcoming event?
CT: The event idea started around bringing people together around the NCAA Women’s D1 National Championship to bring exposure to that event.
I also felt like it was an opportunity to see some of the different jobs in golf all happening at once — everything from college coaches to Golf Channel, from PGA Professionals to tournament ops, from rules officiating to manufacturers. All of those tend to be integral parts of the championship and so I thought what better way to showcase that and bring together women who have played college golf and competed at any level.
TFC: As you have built your business, in general, as you go to various companies within the industry — or to the sponsors for this event — what is the feedback?
CT: The feedback from the sponsors has been really great. I think they are very much looking forward to interacting with a lot of women who are eager to get into the industry. We have such a unique group of sponsors coming from a variety of different areas of the industry that it should be a great opportunity to shed some light on all the amazing opportunities.
TFC: When you start a company such as Fore Hire, you begin with the blueprint, but then you have to adapt to both internal and external forces. What are you learning about yourself and maybe the direction of your company as you evolve?
CT: I think with any new business, it starts out as heading down one specific path and the business ultimately morphs into what it becomes long term. That being said, as our processes evolve, the ultimate goal has stayed true, which is connecting people to opportunities in and through golf, both on the company side and the candidate side. And there’s nothing more rewarding than when a candidate gets a job and the hiring manager calls me back and says “They’re doing such a great job, how can you help me find more just like them?”
This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.