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Writer fueled by activism in the golf community
By Terrence Hill
UW News Lab
Not everyone is lucky enough to discover a new passion well after they have finished school. Even fewer are lucky enough to find a passion that aligns perfectly with their career.
Kirkland native Cheri Brennan, who now lives in Redmond, was one of those people. Brennan’s work with local golf organizations has led to her being selected to write a chapter in the new book “Teeing Up for Success.”
“It was flattering to be asked,” Brennan said. “Now that the book has been published, I’m very honored to be among the 30 other women who contributed chapters for this.”
Brennan’s chapter in “Teeing Up for Success,” which was released in January, is not her first venture into writing. She also writes a column called “From the Forward Tees” in Pacific Northwest Golfer Magazine.
Brennan finished a communications degree at Washington State University before she founded Alliance Communications in 1990.
“I didn’t really start with golf until I was in college,” Brennan said. “I took golf as a P.E. class. I played a little bit then, but then moved to San Francisco after college and never played until probably 10 or 15 years ago as a result of a client I was working with.”
That client was Scott Oki, former senior vice president of sales, marketing and service at Microsoft, who founded Oki Golf. Brennan worked on the public relations side when Oki Golf was building The Golf Club at Newcastle. She would go on to work with Oki for five years on multiple courses.
As she was working on Oki’s courses, the Executive Women’s Golf Association caught her eye with their “Teeing Up for Success” event.
“They’ve kind of gone to just the acronym EWGA more now,” Brennan said. “They have challenges for every woman to discover their own ‘E’ and it can be from empowering to the Every Women’s Golf Association. It’s a very inclusive organization.”
The EWGA’s Seattle chapter celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. Brennan began to attend the organization’s meetings regularly in 1998, but was not a full member at the time. That changed when the organization began looking for volunteer help.
“We were looking for volunteers to help us out in different areas,” said Shelia Sampolesi, who was the president of the EWGA Seattle chapter when Brennan first attended. “She came over and started talking and said, ‘I’d like to become a member and help you with your PR if you need it.’ She had a can-do, step-up attitude.”
Brennan is also a volunteer for The First Tee of Greater Seattle, a chapter of a national organization that works with character development in youth through golf. They work with children from all backgrounds between the ages of 5 and 18. Brennan helps with public relations and profiles of the members of the organization.
“Cheri’s been involved since the very beginning,” said Heidi Wills, the executive director of The First Tee of Greater Seattle. “She’s helped us tell our story to the broader public about the positive impacts we have on the youth in our community.”
Of the 179 chapters in The First Tee, the Greater Seattle chapter was one of only three to obtain “ace status,” the highest recognition in the organization.
“It’s been very gratifying to see that organization rise and teach core values that are an integral part of the game to children,” Brennan said.
Brennan also does a lot of pro-bono charity work in her spare time. One big event she helps with each year is Golf Fore Red, which is in its seventh year. The next event, which raises awareness of heart disease among women while raising funds for The Hope Heart Institute, will take place at 8 a.m. on July 26 at The Golf Club at Redmond Ridge. For more information, visit www.golfforered.com.
“The nice thing about golf is that the game is for a lifetime,” Brennan said. “Everyone can have a good time playing and I encourage more women to take it up.”
Terrence Hill is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communications News Laboratory.