(Ponte Vedra Beach, FL) – Organizers of the Women’s Match Play Championship presented by PXG announced today the addition of two key leadership roles. Joan B. Blecha has been named Tournament Volunteer Chairperson and Mindy Herrick has joined the team as Social Media Manager. The unique, two-week tournament series for women professional players will take place at World Golf Village October 25-November 5, 2021. The Championship is also a collaboration with Generation W to celebrate women’s initiatives inside and outside the ropes.
A golf member at World Golf Village, Ms. Blecha will be responsible for recruiting, managing and creating a team environment for 100-150 volunteers who will “staff” the events. She has been involved with the game for more than 60 years, when she started playing as a kid with her $60 set of Wilson clubs and an Arnold Palmer blade putter that she still has. Ms. Blecha grew up in Pensacola (FL) and graduated from Louisiana State University with a degree in Political Science and has a degree in Accounting from the University of North Florida. She practiced as a CPA at the Jacksonville office of Coopers & Lybrand, was financial VP of Hanson Concrete until she became CEO, President of the Southeast Region and responsible for 36 concrete plants and 2,000 employees. When Hanson was sold to the Heidelberg Cement Group she continued in her role, and was the only female among their top 165 international executive managers.
Said Ms. Blecha, “I spent my career in industries where most positions were filled by men. During this time, I have simultaneously watched the growth of women in business and women in golf. I have been so pleased to see the ladies develop the understanding that opportunities are also there for them if they decide to take advantage of them. I am most grateful to see this tournament present one of those opportunities.”
Mindy Herrick is currently a senior at the University of North Florida, where she majors in Communications with a concentration in Journalism. She also helps lead the 42nd-ranked women’s golf program inside and outside the ropes. She works with C.A.M.P Osprey, a community outreach program that works with the Taylor Leadership Institute as well as with the Jacksonville Ronald McDonald House, creating leadership activities for its residents. Mindy has interned with the UNF Athletic Communications Department creating content and running events, as well as being the social media representative for the Women’s Golf Team. Ms. Herrick will be creating and deploying the social media content, essentially acting as the voice of the tournament to its many constituents, including players, sponsors, supporters and spectators.
“Mindy is the perfect representation of the young women competing in this event, an exceptional player who is not quite LPGA-ready and who’s best golf is in front of her,” said Tournament Director Mark Berman of MediaShare Consulting Group, producer of the event. “Right now, she is deciding on making a run as a professional golfer or turning professional as a future broadcast journalist – or, as many of these young women will, having a solid Plan A and Plan B. She has the talent and the ambition for both, and this opportunity allows her to survey those options in real time. We are all excited to have her perspective and for her to communicate the tournament’s mission through her very specific lens.”
The Women’s Match Play Championship presented by PXG will feature 64 women professionals pursuing their dream of playing on the LPGA Tour, battling over two weeks in two separates, but connected, tournaments. The first week will feature a 54-hole Stroke-Play tournament on the King & Bear course, which will also seed the second week’s event, a 64-woman Match-Play championship at Slammer & Squire. There will be no cut in the Stroke-Play event and all players will advance to the Match-Play tournament.
Each tournament will have its own prize purse, a guarantee of $50,000 shared between the two events. The winner of the Match Play event will be the Match Play Champion, and in addition to cash prize money will also receive a $2,500 Gift Card from PXG, as well as a commemorative golf bag. The tournament series will feature a pro-am event, junior clinics, and local community-based activities and fundraising opportunities.
In addition to the golf competition – and of equal importance – the tournament will celebrate women’s initiatives by providing programming such as leadership forums, executive networking, and education. The programming will be developed and provided by Generation W, a national nonprofit based in Jacksonville Beach (FL) founded and run by Donna Orender, whose mission embraces the guiding tenets of education, inspiration, and connection and the power of women’s leadership.
Said Tournament Operations Director, Tim Iley, of OnTheGreen Consulting, “Joan is the personification of this event outside the ropes. She has gotten to the top of the mountain in a male-dominated industry and giving back to the game through her volunteerism and as a role model to these young women as a business-world role model. She is the leader and team builder The Orca and its volunteers will need.”
The Women’s Match Play Championship presented by PXG represents two of the 14 official events on the Women’s All Pro Tour (WAPT) in 2021. The WAPT was established in 2019 in partnership with the LPGA’s Symetra Tour. The WAPT is the Official Qualifying Tour for the LPGA’s Symetra Tour, providing more opportunities for women to play professional golf and to advance their careers to the next level.”