Emily Palmer’s golf administration career started on a whim. Two decades later, she has become one of the most invaluable voices at the United States Golf Association where she currently serves as the organization’s chief member service officer.
Palmer, born and raised just south of Seattle in Auburn, Washington, came from the definition of a golf family. Her parents, Jim and Jennifer von Doehren, were longtime school teachers who regularly volunteered at the Washington Junior Golf Association for many years. Palmer spent her summers competing in junior golf alongside her younger brother Brendan, and the two would go on to play Division-I college golf in the early 2000’s — Palmer at Northern Arizona University and Brendan at Loyola Marymount.
“Golf is sort of woven into the fabric of our family,” Palmer told GGPWomen.
Brendan dreamed of getting a job with the PGA Tour, and he would eventually do just that in 2015. He is the Vice President, Tournament & Membership Affairs – Korn Kerry Tour and founder of the PGA Tour University program that offers college golf stars access to the professional game.
Palmer wasn’t sure if she was meant to work in the golf industry. After going to school in the small-town environment of Flagstaff, Arizona, she knew it was time to move to a bigger city — and she also knew that competitive golf was not in her future.
On that aforementioned whim, Palmer applied for a USGA P.J. Boatwright Internship with the Southern California Golf Association in Los Angeles. She had a business degree and she loved golf, so maybe that combination could be worth something. It was an idea of a plan at best.
“It was a year-long internship, so I figured what do I have to lose, I'll move to L.A.,” Palmer said in recounting her decision. “I didn't know anybody in L.A., but I'll move there, I'll give it a go and try my hand at golf administration. It was a little bit of a marriage of the business side of things with golf. But boy, I didn't really believe that there was a career there.”
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