Director of Instruction, St. Johns Golf and Country Club
Title: Director of Instruction, St. Johns Golf and Country Club, St. Augustine, Florida.
Previous position: Director, Tom Burnett Golf Academy.
Years as a PGA Professional: 6.
Top achievements / honors: Two-time AJGA All-American; Women's Western Junior champion (2002, 2003); Future Collegians World Tour Player of the Year (1999-2000, 2000-2001); two-time St. Augustine Record and Florida Times Union Player of the Year; St. Augustine Record Athlete of the Decade (Girl's Golf for the 2000s). Full scholarship to Furman University where, as a sophomore in 2004, she led the Paladins to individual and team titles at the Furman Lady Paladin, and set the 36-hole tournament school scoring record (5-under 139) in a program preceded by LPGA Hall-of-Famers Betsy King, Beth Daniel and Dottie Pepper.
What app is a must-have on your phone? On-Form for video lessons and Clippd stat tracking is a must have for coaching and scoring for both players and coaches.
What book(s) would you recommend? There’s so many, but I think “Burn Your Goals” (Joshua Medcalf, Jamie Gilbert) offers insightful and very short chapters that pack a punch for players busy on the go. “The Art of Mental Training” by D.C. Gonzales is also one of my favorite for coaching too.
What podcast(s) would you recommend? I like to listen to Tony Ruggiero’s “Tour Coach” and Travis Fulton on “The Stripe Show.”
Who is your favorite golfer? Tiger Woods, hands down.
What is your most memorable round of golf? My most memorable round of golf isn’t even one I’ve played or one of my wins. I don’t seem to remember those as well as I remember other players' rounds. The most memorable round of golf is when one of my players won her first national championship in high school with over 100 girls in the field. She started a little off, but not out of it and was four strokes back after Day 1. I asked if she had a 68 in her tomorrow because I think she would need that to be in contention to win. She said yes she could. The next day she goes out and birdied the first hole, and just played steady golf as the girls atop the leaderboard began to crumble under pressure. She drained a 15-footer for birdie on her 15th hole to go 2 under on the day and by the time she reached the 18th tee, she was tied for the lead. By her approach shot she had taken a one-shot lead and had no idea. No. 18 was a par 5 and she stuck it safely to 15-16 feet, pin high away from the water. As soon as she hit her putt, I felt like it was going in. She drained it for a bogey-free, 3-under 69 and I began jumping with a quiet “Yes!” as her putt entered the hole. She had no clue what had happened or where she was in the field. When she got off the green, she asked how she was doing and I said you have a two-shot lead. She said, “Shut up, you’re lying,” grabbed the phone and saw for herself on live scoring. She had been working her tail off that fall, had this victory on her vision board and made it happen. The win secured a junior national championship, player of the year honor, first-team All-America, as well as the Florida Times Union Girls Golfer of the Year title. That, to this day, is the most memorable round of golf as it had so much emotion, hard-work, blood, sweat and tears put in. And to see it happen for her was truly amazing.
The First Call: What made you want to pursue a career in golf?
Monique Gesualdi: I discovered golf at age 10 and fell in love with it. I knew by age 11 that I wanted to make a career in golf in some way. And while I’m not on Tour, it’s been very fulfilling to be able to teach and coach golf. It’s a dream come true.
TFC: What is your favorite instructional tip to share with a golfer?
MG: Golf development is a marathon, not a sprint. Build strong fundamentals early, so you’re solid for the long haul.
TFC: What advice do you have for someone considering a career in golf?
MG: You have to pay your dues early and work long hours with not much pay in the beginning, but just like we teach, stick to the process. That process includes working hard, networking, being grateful and being willing to relocate. Don’t be afraid to knock on a lot of doors, and eventually the right one will open.
TFC: What is the best advice you have received on your career path?
MG: Everything in life is temporary, just keep going.
TFC: Is there a particular area of your job that you find most rewarding?
MG: In golf development and coaching, there are a lot of ups and downs that players experience in their growth and development. When a player comes up from a down and succeeds in a way they never have or thought they could, the excitement they share with you when they reach that pinnacle is absolutely the most rewarding.
TFC: What is one challenge you currently see in the industry? Thoughts on how to address it?
MG: I see well-intentioned parents' over-involvement in their junior’s golf development to be a serious threat to their progress and chances to succeed beyond the junior or high school level. I have the same advice for parents that I do their students — they need to trust the coach they hired, their process and embrace their failures so they are equipped to handle and problem-solve the inevitable adversities and challenges that will arise in both golf and life.
TFC: Do you have a preferred style or philosophy for teaching golf?
MG: I love old school coaches with tough love or as Jon Gordon puts it, “love tough.” My coaching style and message is influenced by the greats of Geno Auriemma, MJ, Kobe, Rocky movies and those with similar mentalities.
TFC: Where is there room for growth within the industry?
MG: While the number of women and girls in golf is exponentially on the rise, I’d love to see the opportunities for amateur women to expand. I’d love to see more money in ladies mini tours and more exciting exposure and events for the LPGA Tour. The more events, opportunities and publicity you have for something like the ANWA, the more you’ll see younger girls wanting to get into the game and it will just keep growing from there.
TFC: When you look at your career, in what area(s) do you believe you have evolved for the better? And how so?
MG: I believe I have evolved mentally and emotionally for the better over the years, but also know it’s a never-ending learning and growth process. Having a solid emotional IQ is imperative to being a successful coach and instructor, and I continue to sharpen mine.
TFC: How does being a PGA Professional add value to your brand?
MG: I think becoming a PGA Member provides a sense of earned respect upon completing the journey to certification. I think once you’re a member, you’re in the brotherhood/ sisterhood of golf professionalism. You then have to continue to push yourself outside of your comfort zone with continued education, training and technology implementation to add more value to your personal brand.