Jane Geddes, who helped lead the Florida State women’s golf team to the AIAW national championship in 1981, returned to campus earlier this fall. She sat down with Associate Athletics Director for Communication Rob Wilson and shared some insights into her fabulous career on the LPGA Tour, her experiences with as an assistant captain of the Unites States’ Solheim Cup team and her success in the business world.
Tell us a little about your background in golf. When did you start?
Where are the greatest places it has taken you? I started playing when I was 16 years old in Summerville, SC. The greatest places it has taken me is everywhere! I have traveled the world playing golf!
How did you break into the professional golf industry? I broke in by playing on LPGA Tour, obviously, and then, after retiring and attending law school, I was given the opportunity to work for the LPGA.
How has the sport of golf helped you grow in to the woman that you are today? Golf is really a game of life. It teaches you integrity, honesty, patience and succeeding and/or failing on your own.
To whom, or to what do you credit your successes? Ultimately, the credit goes to my parents. They gave me the opportunity to make my own decisions regarding my career. After my parents, it’s Derek Hardy…my first teacher and my coach throughout my career.
You have worked for the LPGA, built up a successful business and worked for WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). How have you enjoyed working in such different industries? I have always enjoyed challenges and working in such different industries have provided me unique challenges throughout my career.
What was it like working on reality television? It was a bit strange. I had been used to being in front of a camera but when you are being filmed in an indirect sort of way, it’s challenging to be yourself. In the end though, it was funny being recognized as “The Boss on Total Divas” instead of being recognized as Jane Geddes, the golfer.
Has your view of the sport of golf changed because you have worked in the LPGA office? My view of the game didn’t change but my view of the challenges of making the LPGA Tour or playing professional golf in the public’s eye changed. When you are playing on Tour, you believe that your life is the center of the universe. Most players are living amazing lives doing something they love…become they are stars in their own right. When you get behind the scenes, you realize that the number of people that really watch and are fans of golf are fewer than you think. The goal and challenge has always been to get fans and corporate sponsors to believe that the LPGA is an amazing product and that adds great value to its fan base and great value to those involved from a corporate perspective.
What’s it like to win a national championship as you and your team did in 1981 at Florida State? It was the greatest moment of my life at that point. We were such underdogs and no one ever thought that we could achieve something of that magnitude at that time. I remember crying after we won…I am not sure I cried over any other win in my career.
What’s it like to win a major tournament on the LPGA Tour? It’s the ultimate achievement as a professional golfer.
What’s it like to win two majors on the LPGA Tour? It’s the double ultimate achievement! Doing so twice or multiple times solidifies that you truly belong and that you can complete at any level on the Tour.
Talk about your experiences while serving as an assistant captain of the U.S. Solheim Cup Team in both 2002 and 2003? I felt so lucky to have been chosen by Patty Sheehan to assist her as Captain. Patty has always been a good friend so to be able to play a part in her reign as Captain was super special. The Solheim Cup is an event that is so completely different from a player’s perspective. Having played on a Solheim team earlier in my career, I knew the challenges, the stresses, the highs and lows so I felt like I could be there for players if need be. To be truthful though, my job was really to keep Patty as organized as possible!! She was the front person and I was absolutely fine just being the assistant. Interesting because I learned later in my career, outside golf, that I am better than I thought at being the person behind the scenes making the people in front be the best they can be.
If you could choose any course to play as a part of your ultimate foursome, which course would it be and why? I think I would need way more than a foursome to name those people but I really, truly think it would be so cool to play a 5-some at Augusta with all my teammates from the 1981 National Championship team. I guarantee we would all still be trying to out drive and outdo each other on every shot!
What was your most memorable moment as a Seminole? Bar none, winning the National Championship
What was your biggest accomplishment at Florida State? Ditto on above
Are you able to follow the FSU Women’s Golf team? I try my best to follow all FSU teams but I don’t do as good a job as I could.
Do you still keep in touch with any of your coaches or teammates from Florida State? We are all in touch…in fact, we were all together for Verlyn Giles’, our coach, induction into the FSU Athletics Hall of Fame on Sept 9th.
What advice would you give to the current Seminoles who want to follow in your footsteps and make professional golf their careers? Work hard on your game at every level, making it fun but make it your job. Take advantage of every opportunity you have to play as you never know when it will be your breakthrough moment.
You have been very successful in the business world. Tell us about that part of your life? After finishing law school, my career took off with the LPGA. I got a great opportunity to get back into the game and learn what it was like on the other side of the ropes. I had some amazing mentors at the LPGA that taught me a tremendous amount about business and the corporate world. When I decided to take the giant leap to the WWE, people thought I was crazy to leave my comfort zone of golf but, truthfully, that’s exactly why I left. I felt that I needed to really challenge myself outside golf. I wanted to see if I could apply everything I had learned to something I knew absolutely nothing about. At the WWE, I was no longer the ex-golfer but just that person that got hired to do a job. That, to me, was an amazing challenge. I could no longer lean on being someone everyone in golf knew so, in turn, it made me have to work very hard at creating a new identity in a strange world. I also learned that I was more comfortable being a person behind the scenes than in front. I finished my stint at WWE in a “chief of staff” position under an Executive Director at WWE, Triple H (Paul Levesque), a famous wrestler who, like me, had transitioned into the corporate side of the ropes. My job each day was to make Paul the best he could be that day. As someone that had spent most of my life out in front, it was an interesting, yet surprisingly comfortable position to be in. In the end, leaving golf was the best thing I ever could have done. Now that I am back in the game, I appreciate it so much more and, while away, learned a tremendous amount about myself and the rest of the business world.
What’s the most important thing you learned at Florida State – away from the golf course? I learned how to have a great time in college, survived living in a sorority house and play golf at the same time! My coach would hate to hear my say that!
After a very successful professional golf career, you went back to school to earn your criminology and law degrees. What was your driving force to further your education? After retiring, I knew that I wanted to do something else in my life than play golf but didn’t know that that was so I decided to finish up my education and then went out to get my law degree. I did that because I truly felt like I needed more credibility than being just Jane Geddes, the golfer. With no resume to speak of in my mid-forties, I needed some skills to rest on.
What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment? My family and kids, Karson and Madison…everything else is just icing on the cake!