In Defense of the Wandering Path

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In Defense of the Wandering Path

Jeehae Lee shares with us her journey with golf that lead her toward working at Topgolf
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Written By:

Jeehae Lee

From reluctant junior golfer to professional tour player and manager to Michelle Wie, Jeehea Lee now oversees a small team that helps expose Topgolf to a broader audience.

Sitting among my Yale University classmates on Commencement Day 2006, I was a 21-year-old girl full of hope with zero clue what was in store for me once I left the comfort and structure that academic institutions provided me all my life.

I had just declined a couple of cushy job offers in investment banking and instead decided to try my hand at professional golf. I wavered between absolute confidence and an overwhelming sense of panic and regret. Why would someone with my absurdly lackluster amateur golf record even attempt to make a living playing against the best of the best, including those who beat me time and time again in competition?

While I sat contemplating my life choices, Yale College ’89 and our commencement speaker Anderson Cooper transitioned from light-hearted jokes to parting words of wisdom. He said to us, “Follow your bliss . . .” I perked up and listened. It was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment and reassured me that I was doing the right thing. It has since become a philosophy I’ve adopted to guide me through many critical turning points in my life.

He said, ” . . . follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”

Since then, I’ve taken “following one’s bliss” to a whole new level, turning it into an extreme sport that even Red Bull would find outrageous. Looking through my resume, the only logical explanation for things I’ve done is that a genie granted my mother’s three wishes for her three children but screwed up by giving them all to one child.

From 2006-2011, I played professional golf and competed on various tours, including the LPGA Tour in 2009 and 2011 and the Ladies European Tour in 2010. In 2012, I began working at IMG Golf—first in the events department, and then in client representation working with my dear friend and superstar Michelle Wie.

In the fall of 2013, I found myself at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania with the goal of pursuing my MBA and finding a “real job”. Again, I had no idea what this so-called “real job” would look like, but I knew Wharton could open more doors for me.

I explored career opportunities in broader sports and media industries during my two years at Wharton, but ultimately, golf pulled me back. I stumbled upon Topgolf when I visited my friends in Dallas and fell in love with the concept and the unique experience it offers golfers and non-golfers alike. Through a mutual friend, I connected with our executive chairman, Erik Anderson, and he found a role that has allowed me to learn and grow.

Now, sitting in Topgolf’s beautiful San Francisco office, I can’t help but feel a sense of incredible gratitude for having followed my bliss instead of a more conventional path in business. Without that initial leap of faith, I may have never encountered Topgolf as a potential career opportunity. Working in golf and being able to impact this game in a positive and meaningful way gives me a tremendous sense of fulfillment, and that is a privilege and blessing I would never take lightly.

So here I am, a millennial, minority, female professional in the golf industry, and I’m inviting any woman out there who may be considering a career in golf to go for it. I want to encourage everyone to think about life, not as a linear path, but one that may wind a bit if you’re following your bliss.

Beyond the competition and courses, golf is a multi-faceted industry with many opportunities for those with a passion for the game.

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