Playing the transition game

Former Tour players Jenny Gleason and Jennie Lee made successful jumps to the golf industry and help show a path for attendees of Fore Hire's Women Who Want to Work in Golf program

Regardless of age, location or circumstances, we’ve all been called upon to adapt to something new in a certain way, shape or form.

Courtney Trimble is no exception to that reality. How she chose to approach that reality is what has positioned her as an innovator within the world of collegiate and professional golf.Since before the start of her junior golf career, Trimble has been around the game. Trimble was a collegiate All-American at Auburn University before briefly playing professionally and then making the transition to collegiate coaching.

Throughout her coaching career, which included head coaching stints at the University of Central Florida and University of Louisville, Trimble discovered a passion for not only assisting in the personal growth of the golfers with who she interacted, but she also began to see the value of helping with the navigation process for those looking to move on from their playing careers.

As a collegiate player at Duke University, Jennie Lee helped the Blue Devils, win the 2006 and 2007 NCAA Women's Championships, and was a three-time All-American.

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This passion became the driving force to launch Fore Hire, a job placement assistance organization. The two-fold program offers opportunities for companies to review potential candidates, as well as allow former golfers to find where their skills might be best applied.

This week, Fore Hire is holding the first Women Who Want to Work in Golf program in Scottsdale, Arizona. “I want the people hiring to see the value of these people, because they are eager and willing to work hard,” Trimble says. “They just need to be given an opportunity.”

Jennie Lee and Jenny Gleason are just two of the many lives impacted in a variety of ways by Trimble's efforts. Here are their stories

Golf Club Sales Representative

Despite being around golf for the majority of her life, Jenny Gleason didn’t pick up her first golf club until her freshman year of high school at the age of 15. Prior to that, growing up in Clearwater, Florida, Gleason’s passion was focused on the basketball court from first to eighth grade.

Not until one day during her school’s announcements was Gleason’s ear grabbed by word of trying out for the golf team.

“I learned I was behind a lot of people,” Gleason says. “A lot of golfers had either been playing since they were six, seven, eight years old, or they grew up on a golf course, or someone in their family played. My background is, nobody in my family played golf, so it was just out of the blue.

“I worked really hard to get better. I remember at the district tournament, I had been playing all of four or five months of my life, and I shot 104. I thought I was queen of the world.”

The offer of a scholarship soon followed and Gleason’s collegiate career began at the University of North Carolina Greensboro in Greensboro, North Carolina.

“It's funny how life works,” Gleason says. “I went up there, worked really hard, and found out, ‘Oh wow, people do this for a living.’ I was still so new to the game. I had only been playing for four or five years when I went to college.”

Jenny Gleason during her days as an Epson Tour, then known as the Symetra Tour, player.

Graduating with honors with a degree in finance in May 2003, Gleason opted to forgo a desk job and attended LPGA Tour Q School. Gleason entered professional golf that summer at age 23.

“I had just a wonderful career,” Gleason said. “I got to play in U.S. Women’s Opens, got to travel the world and, even beyond that, just meet amazing people, and develop these relationships with people like Courtney (Trimble).”

In 2013, Gleason participated in the Wegmans Championship. Prior to her Tuesday practice round, Gleason said to her caddie “Hey, let's go to the range. I want to leave with a good taste in my mouth, a good feeling before the tournament starts.” Gleason hit a few 7-irons before teeing up a driver and making a swing. 

Gleason’s left shoulder dislocated right at impact. Having never been severely injured, Gleason suddenly found herself lying on the driving range.

“I didn't know what was going on, nobody did,” Gleason says. “The driver went flying, my left arm was shaking, it was out of socket. A friend of mine was hitting balls behind me, she went and got the trainer and they came over and popped it back in.

“As I look back on it, it'll be 10 years this summer that was the beginning of the end,” Gleason said. 

Gleason had torn half her labrum, requiring surgery and suddenly she was faced with a fork in her career road. “It was the beginning of the end,” says Gleason, who rehabbed and tried Q School again in 2015, but did not regain her status.

Gleason looked to the relationships she had cultivated over her career for some guidance toward whatever awaited her next.

“A good friend of mine had just gotten her first college head coaching job (at Texas State University),” Gleason says. “She called me up, and said, ‘Would you ever want to get into college coaching?’ I said, "Geez, I haven't even thought about it. I don't know."

“She's like, ‘Well, think about it.’

And just like that, Gleason found herself as the assistant golf coach at Texas State for three years, before becoming the assistant coach at Kent State University. But following the conclusion of her coaching career, Gleason once again found herself at a crossroads and once again, Gleason’s relationships came to her aid. This time in the form of Trimble.

“She called, and she's like, ‘Could you ever get into sales?" Gleason says. “I said, ‘Maybe. What do you have in mind?"

Trimble wasn’t able to give specific company information, but with Gleason being up for a challenge, she agreed to give it a try. “One thing led to another, I had an interview, then I had an interview with the vice president, and all of a sudden, a couple of days later I was offered the job,” Gleason says. 

Working as a sales representative for XXIO Golf, Gleason, 42, grew her territory over 250% in 2021.

“I commend Courtney for what she's doing,” Gleason says. “Courtney sticks her neck out there, and she goes to bat for us. I wouldn't have the job that I have right now without the help of her. I owe her a lot.”

Global Associate Product Manager Golf Apparel

Golf started out as an activity to pass the time.

Jennie Lee’s mother had been working to find an activity for Lee’s brother and when it was decided that golf was the choice, Lee followed her brother to the golf course.

Lee, her mother and brother moved to Southern California from Korea when Lee was 6 years old. Her father’s real estate development business had come into some difficulties, forcing him to stay behind while the rest of the family went through with the move to the United States.

“I think my mom and I definitely have a special bond,” Lee says. “I think I just got a firsthand view of how she sacrificed a lot for us. One thing I remember is when we used to travel to go to junior golf tournaments, if we drove, she would pack a lot of food for us so we wouldn’t go out to eat every single night. I've just been able to witness a lot of that from day one. And so I remember just kind of how tough it was on her to make that all happen for us.”

Lee’s success on the junior golf circuit soon transitioned to the national circuit and with the move came more financial weight. In order to not lose momentum on the course, Lee got creative in her tournament arrangements.

“I actually ended up staying with a lot of different host families just so we could save money,” Lee says. “I started doing that when I was 13 years old and just kind of kept doing that until I retired, actually, from playing professional golf. I just showed up at the front door and said, ‘Hey, thanks for hosting me,’ and just got to know people in a brand new way.

“It really just shaped me into this person that I am today playing a sport that you go to some of these exclusive clubs around the country.”

That character shaping went beyond Lee’s work on the golf course. Each experience was, in turn, cultivating a sense of self-confidence that Lee hadn’t known before.

“I was an immigrant coming to the United States,” Lee says. “I was a girl. I just kind of kept being put in these situations at these clubs in places that were really not meant for me. I felt like I could go anywhere in the world and still feel confident and be able to shake anyone's hand looking at them, straight in the eyes.”

Through golf Lee evolved into a standout at Duke University, followed by eight years spread across the LPGA and the Ladies European Tour. During that stretch, Lee played in 12 majors. 

“Some days I would just hit balls on the range next to the world number one and say, ‘Man, I'm right here with world number one, the best in the world,’” Lee says. “Just kind of soaking it all in that you really are on this stage when there's so many eyes on you, and just in a place where you could be a role model and have this amazing platform.”

In 2016, following a foot injury that was likely going to require surgery, Lee made the decision to retire. She had played eight years and was ready to try something completely new, but wanted to go to a very athletic or athletically-minded place.

Lee eventually came across a contract worker position with Nike in 2017, which was followed by a move to merchandising operations in soccer and team sports. Today, Lee currently serves as a global associate product manager with a focus on golf apparel. 

While Lee wasn’t specifically placed through Fore Hire, she will be the first to say how vital the need is for assistance in making the transition from the golf course to the corporate world.

“I know a lot of the work that [Trimble’s] doing is super powerful,” Lee says. “I think it's so fantastic. For me, golf has been the greatest gift that my parents gave me and it's helped me transform into this person I am today. There's so many great skills that golf can teach you and just being able to have an opportunity to transfer those skill sets over into a workplace, I think is huge.”