Back in the pre-pandemic days of 2017, BuffaloGolfer was fortunate to interview then-executive director of the WNYPGA, Steve Bartkowski. Mr. Bartkowski was candid about the present and the future of the WNYPGA, although he would soon depart to direct the Colorado section of the PGA of America. Not even he would have envisioned that, in 2023, the WNY PGA would boast … wait, we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
You might wonder, who is in charge today? Well, we’ll let the current CEO/Executive Director continue the story. It’s our pleasure to present an interview with …
1. Please introduce yourself and inform us on your current position in golf.
Hello! My name is Victoria Schiro, though at the PGA I am referred to as Tori. I am the CEO/Executive Director of the Western New York PGA Section and PGA REACH WNY.
2. How did you arrive in western New York? Discuss your education and previous work experience.
I was born and raised in Buffalo. Go Bills! I attended SUNY Fredonia for my undergraduate degree and Canisius College for my Master’s degree. In 2017, I interned for the Western New York PGA as an event and operations coordinator. After that, I worked for M&T Bank as a Banking Officer in the Legal Department. The previous Executive Director, Steven Bartkowski, who oversaw my internship, reached out to me in 2021 and asked me to return to the Western New York PGA as the Assistant Executive Director. Who could refuse a career in golf?! In 2022, Steven became the Executive Director of the Colorado PGA. As of January, 2023, I took on my current role.
3. Tell us about the team that you have assembled at the Western New York PGA section office. What strengths does each bring to the organization?
Currently, the Western New York PGA is the only all female PGA Section staff in the country.
Ashley Easterday, Director of Competitions and Membership Services, oversees our tournament operations and has a strong love for the game. Julie Haile, Director of Junior Golf and Player Development, manages our junior golf tour and PGA HOPE program. She has a passion for helping our Veteran community and is dedicated to growing PGA HOPE. Mollie Mars, PGA WORKS Fellow just started with us last week and is already making waves on our social media platforms and outreach initiatives. We are a unique Section that is working to expand golf’s network and bring new players to the game.
4. Is there such a thing as a typical day for the Executive Director of the WNYPGA? If so, can you take us along and describe it?
A typical summer day working for the WNYPGA is never spent inside! On Monday, we may be out conducting a Professional tournament, Tuesday we are probably hosting a Drive, Chip & Putt competition, Thursday night we have free golf clinics for Veterans, and on the weekend we run our junior events. On any given day, at least one staff member is on a golf course. I am either bouncing around between events or behind the scenes helping the staff with any questions they may have.
5. The WNYPGA is based at Glen Oak Golf Course. What does that site and its staff add to the WNYPGA experience?
Having our homesite be on a green grass facility is a great experience for us. We are able to host several events here throughout the season, run clinics, and host training sessions. The staff at Glen Oak is extremely helpful and is considered a partner to us in many ways. A special thank you to the owner of Glen Oak, Tim Fries, PGA, for allowing us to call Glen Oak home.
6. Let’s talk about the present. What is new (say, in the last five years) for the WNYPGA?
The WNYPGA just hosted the 2023 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, NY. It was an amazing week, filled with some historic golf. We couldn’t be more grateful to Head Golf Professional of Oak Hill CC, Jason Ballard, PGA, and his entire staff. Together, I feel we had a truly successful Championship.
7. Let’s talk about the future. What plans do you and your team have, to enhance the impact of the WNYPGA on golf and the western New York community?
The WNYPGA also runs a 501c(3) organization, PGA REACH WNY, that focuses on 3 main areas, youth, military, and diversity and inclusion. Our Foundation, PGA REACH WNY, strives to make an impact on those communities and bring golf to those who may not have the means or opportunity to play otherwise. Through clinics, events, scholarships, and programs, we hope to bring golf to as many communities as possible.
8. Time for an about-face. Go as far back as you wish, and tell us about one important moment in your life that revealed to you that golf was the essence of your career path.
While I was interning for the WNYPGA several years ago, I attended a junior golf event bright and early in the morning. I was out on a golf cart watching the most beautiful sunrise and thought “this could be my office”. That’s when I knew a career in golf was in my future.
9. What question haven’t we asked, that you wish we would have? Ask it and answer it, please, and thank you for your time today.
What events does the WNYPGA have going on this summer that the public can get involved with?
Our Foundation hosts many special events and fundraisers throughout the season. Each one has tons of prizes, including free golf to all of your favorite courses in WNY. To view the list of events and to register visit our website www.wnypga.com