Melanie van der Hoop, a modern sports management specialist, has been promoted to lead the PGA of Ontario as executive director.
“Melanie combines specialized sports management knowledge with an inclusive leadership style, exceptional people skills and a determined drive to meet and exceed her goals,” said Simon Bevan, president of the PGA of Ontario.
“While her appointment represents a departure from our long-standing tradition of naming a PGA member to head our association, the changing landscape of our business dictates that we hire someone with the specialized skills to grow our association and improve upon our ability to support our membership,” he added.
“Our experience with Melanie in her role as operations manager over the past 15 months, combined with her sports management experience, made her the enthusiastic and unanimous choice of our board of directors to assume the executive director’s role and lead our association into the future,” said Bevan.
University provided the foundation towards van der Hoop’s goal.
“I pursued a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology because I was interested in learning about the relationship between people and performance,” said van der Hoop.
“I captained my university soccer team for four years and deepened my understanding of the value of teamwork and the subsequent power that results from working towards a common goal. This is what defines my management style today,” she said.
She gained sports management experience working with the Ontario Speed Skating Association and the Invictus Games in Toronto in 2017.
“The former taught me how to support individuals in high performance programs striving to achieve their dreams and reach their athletic potential,” said van der Hoop.
“The Invictus Games provided the experience of collaborative management of venue operations, international sport organizations, as well as the demands of training and deploying all sport-related volunteers in a high profile, high-stress environment,” she said
Ms. van der Hoop was responsible for recruiting and managing more than 700 volunteers to support operations during the Invictus Games, which saw more than 550 competitors from 17 nations compete in 12 adaptive sports.
For van der Hoop, this appointment is an exciting step forward in a carefully planned career.
“Sport is, and always has been, a passion and a staple in my life. I believe there is a strong correlation between success in sport and success in business, and it’s no secret that there are a multitude of soft skills learned in sport that apply to all facets of life,” she said.
“Today, I strive to give our members the opportunity to achieve their professional goals and I am grateful to be trusted to lead the PGA of Ontario,” she added.
“I may be very new to the game of golf, but my experience, both working in non-profit sport and serving a community of members through sports, is transferrable. I believe we can put some new ideas to work to help improve our ability to support and serve our membership,” said van der Hoop.
The board of directors has no doubt that will happen.
“Not only does Melanie possess skill sets that are of particular interest to us, but her emergence to a leadership level was a natural evolution,” said Bevan.
“Through various events and circumstances throughout her last 15 months, she has worked with our small office team to ensure smooth and seamless operations. Although she is quick to credit the team around her, Mel’s initiative to assume responsibility and her ability to lead her team and direct the association have become apparent to our entire board,” he said.
Those abilities were also apparent to some of the members with whom she came in contact.
“One of our members mentioned her performance on a specific issue with which he was involved. Although the outcome was not what he expected, he did not hesitate to praise her performance with an unsolicited recommendation that I hire her to lead the association,” added Bevan.
Teamwork is an ongoing theme in Ms. van der Hoop’s thinking.
“Whatever was accomplished at the PGA of Ontario in the last 15 months is a direct reflection of the willingness of our small staff to work together to accomplish our goals. Both Stacey Hewett and Kristine Schmidt are very generous with their co-operation and support. They know their jobs and perform them effectively,” she said.
While van der Hoop is new to the sport of golf, she is determined to learn quickly. In the past year she has completed the first two levels of Rules Certification. At her urging, all three staffers have taken golf lessons from PGA of Ontario pro Jaime Steedman.
“Mel is incredibly athletic. She can hit the ball and has terrific potential. I was struck by her contagious enthusiasm. She is fun to work with, she is not afraid to laugh at herself and she made this a really fun learning experience for her team,” said Steedman, the head teaching professional at Ladies’ Golf Club of Toronto.
“I am very aware that I have much to learn about the golf industry, but I am not worried about it,” said van der Hoop. “I am surrounded by 1,300 of the top golf professionals in Ontario, so I know where to go to find the answers. I should add that I am very interested in knowing their opinions, understanding their needs and receiving their input. I will make it a priority to ensure that happens.”