GSMP 2015 Site Visits: Yasmian Al-Sharshani at PGA of America

By Brian Canever September 27, 2015

Amid the manicured lawns and sprawling fountains along PGA Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida are two buildings that make up the administrative headquarters of the world’s largest golf organization.

After parking the car and making our way inside the PGA of America, it didn’t take long for Yasmian Al-Sharshani and her mentors Rhona Aime and Angela Schmelzer to meet us in the lobby and escort us to an elegant boardroom where we spent the next three hours together.

During our fourth site visit of the 2015 U.S. Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program, Drs. Sarah Hillyer and Ashleigh Huffman, co-directors of the University of Tennessee’s Center for Sport, Peace, & Society, and I, met with Yasmian, Rhona, and Angela to learn more about their creative efforts to promote women’s golf in Qatar and throughout the world.

“Coming to the PGA of America was like a dream to me,” Yasmian said. “I’ve learned so many life lessons from golf. So to be a part of this family, I’m just so excited to learn from everyone here.”

Rhona, chief financial officer of the PGA of America, is equally delighted to host Yasmian, one of three Muslim women hosted by the PGA of America — the others are Hayam Essam (2013) and Dima Alardah (2014) — since participating in the GSMP.

“We’ve had wonderful experiences the past two years with women from the Middle East,” Rhona said. “This time around we have someone from a different country, same region of the world, but who is actually a golf player. It is an added bonus for us because now we can really take it to the next level.”

Yasmian, who launched Qatar Golf Ladies, the first female-focused golf organization in her country, wants to use her platform to spread the game she loves to women of all backgrounds.

“On the golf course, it’s really hard for me sometimes,” Yasmian said. “I don’t have any role models to look up to, so it can get very lonely. That’s really why I want to be a role model. I want to inspire the next generation of girls in my country.”

Yasmian, who also hopes to qualify to participate in next summer’s 2016 Rio Olympics, has big aspirations for golf and the ways it can help decrease the startling rates of obesity and diabetes among Qatari women. Rhona and Angela are helping give shape to Yasmian’s ideas and are fully committed to supporting her dream of becoming a catalyst for change in her country.

“Our goal at the PGA of America is to make golf as inclusive, accessible and international as possible,” Rhona said. “And Yasmian shares that vision with us. We know she will be a success.”

Listen to the Center’s podcast conversation with Yasmian, Rhona and Angela at the link below