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    5th Annual PGA-SF Pride Golf Tournament

    By Jamie Leno Zimron–

    (Editor’s note: We are thrilled to spotlight this great community benefit event and to announce that Jamie Leno Zimron, former San Francisco Bay Times sports and wellness columnist, has been chosen as the 2023 Excellence in Golf Award recipient! Please join us in congratulating her on this significant honor.)

    Alongside football’s NFL, basketball’s NBA, baseball’s MLB, and hockey’s NHL, the PGA/Professional Golf Association of America stands amongst the most powerful sports enterprises in the world and likely all human history. Harding Park Golf Course, owned by the City of San Francisco and named for the golfing former U.S. president when it opened 98 years ago, is nationally known as a prestigious PGA Tour major championship venue.

    In 2019, Greg Fitzgerald, PGA Golf Professional and Chair of the Northern California Diversity & Inclusion Committee, launched the groundbreaking and breathtaking PGA Pride Tournament at Harding Park. Courageously following his passion for no one to have to hide or be excluded in golf, or any sport, he has created a winning partnership between the PGA, San Francisco Pride, SF Parks & Rec, The First Tee, and now title sponsor Top Golf.

    People came together quickly, says Fitzgerald, because “the community gets excited once they hear the message: make golf for everyone and change the game so all people can play. I think we’re ready for that!” 

    With an always full field of gender diverse golfers, sponsors, and allied pros and amateurs playing for our community, September 30th celebrates the 5th annual PGA Pride tournament. Recently, Fitzgerald and Pride Executive Director Suzanne Ford called to let me know I have been selected to receive the event’s 2023 Excellence in Golf Award. Needless to say, I am deeply honored and extra excited to get out to Harding Park—and to see everyone and speak at the night-before reception hosted at the Fairmount Hotel. It is truly amazing to see the city and the PGA so all in and going all out for us!

    Former State Senator Mark Leno with his sister Jamie Leno Zimron and golfers at PGA Pride in San Francisco

    Like music and art, sport is an integral part of our humanity. Self-expression, happily inhabiting your body, equal athletic opportunities, and fulfilling your potential are for every-body. Gender, race, religion, class, size, age, sexuality, etc. have nothing to do with the human need to stretch, get your breathing and heart rates up, break a sweat, rise to challenges, and go beyond current capabilities. Everyone’s inner athlete can come out and play: sport is no place for discrimination!
    And yet … the sports world persists as one of the hardest arenas for women and gender non-conforming people to gain entrée, much less find safety or parity. Why in sports is the gender pay gap such a chasm, and why are LGBTQ people so especially fearful of coming out? 

    Sexist gender roles and homophobia are intensely inter-linked in sport, rendering it a last bastion of male domination and hetero-normative bias and exclusivity. While we’ve made progress, kids and adults are still contending with blue-boy/pink-girl conditioning that pictures sport as a masculine domain, where “real” men or “manly” women play. The longtime diminishment of girls and women in sports, and the outright career and safety dangers queer athletes face, are perpetuated so long as hetero-sexism persists. 

    Today’s alarming wave of anti-transgender legislation, largely targeting student sports programs, reflects dangerously cynical wedge politics—not the recommendations of informed scientists, health officials, and educators. It is important to be part of the rising tide of talented, brave athletes and activists who are challenging entrenched patriarchal attitudes, gender norms, and power structures. The progressive strides we make together, to shift every playing field towards equity and inclusivity, are crucial to our individual and collective well-being.

    Jamie Leno Zimron and her brother, former State
    Senator Mark Leno

    Every gender-bending, differently-abled, and non-“normative” person deserves to be in the game/s of their choosing. Every human being is equally here to share their unique gifts and realize the birthright of their being and potential. Now is the time for us all to be freed from ridiculous biases and restrictions, so we can each fully engage our awesome authentic selves as we work, love—and play.

    LGBTQ athletes and allies have a long way to go to crack the hetero-sexist strictures and glass walls and ceilings in sports. PGA Pride is a brilliant initiative to finally do away with gender stereotyping and discrimination—in golf and on all the playing fields of life. In the face of regressive far-right efforts to drag 21st century life back to medieval times, may we see even more powerful waves of inclusive partnerships and events, with LGBTQ athletes pridefully coming out to play as our whole true ourselves. We must be and are ready for this!

    The SF Pride Golf Tournament

    Awards Ceremony: Friday, September 29, at The Fairmont, Nob Hill

    Tournament: Saturday, September 30, at TPC Harding Park

    Jamie Leno Zimron, known as The Golf Sensei (Master Instructor), is a Class A LPGA Pro, 6th Degree Aikido Black Belt, Corporate Speaker, MFT Psychologist, Mind-Body Fitness & Peak Performance Trainer, and International Citizen Diplomat. Reach her at 760-492-GOLF(4653) and

    Published on September 21, 2023