Dana Kimble’s self-propelled entry into the game shows a way for others
by Tom Cade, Editor
Everyone has a story of how they got into the game. Here, then, is Dana Kimble’s story.
Kimble was not at all into golf when she was growing up. She competed in most other sports, eventually focusing on track and soccer, and played soccer collegiately at the University of Washington. There wasn’t a professional women’s soccer league during that era, but the Seattle Sounders had a minor league program for women, and Kimble competed on it from 1999-2006.
But soccer is a game for younger players (and younger knees), and Kimble moved on with her life, eventually working her way up to senior director of business development for Skanska, one of the largest construction and development companies in the U.S., with an office in Seattle.
And it was in her role at Skanska that the game of golf came calling.
“I was asked to participate in the occasional golf functions and fundraisers that our company participated in, but I always turned them down,” Kimble says. “I’d say ‘Thanks, but it’s really not for me,’ or ‘Thanks, but I don’t know how to play.’”
Eventually, Kimble started to see the opportunities she was missing – the business connections, the networking, the camaraderie and simple enjoyment of getting to know professional acquaintances outside the office.
“A big part of my job is entertaining clients,” she says. “It really hit me one day that I was the problem, by not playing golf. I was limiting my own ability to do my job better.”
So three years ago she decided to pick up the game, but before she got into it, she got some very good advice. “A friend told me not to buy a used set of clubs and go to the driving range and start swinging away,” she recalls. “Instead, I should take a series of golf lessons, then get fitted for clubs, then gradually get used to playing on a course. It was the best advice I ever got.”
Kimble began to realize how important a round of golf could be in the business world. She began to understand what those who play the game have always understood. “You can find out more about a person during one round of golf than you can in several business meetings, phone calls or emails,” she says.
And once she got into the game, Kimble went all in. “I was hooked immediately,” she says. “I’ve competed in sports at a high level for most of my life. It’s difficult for me to do something and not be good at it. So I work on my game, and I know it’s a hard game, and I know that everyone’s going to have a bad round once in a while.”
She is a member of the Riverbend Ladies Club in Kent, Wash. “I never thought I’d be one of those people who watch golf on TV,” she says with a laugh. “But now I do it every weekend.”
She began accepting the invitations to play in the numerous business and charitable golf tournaments held throughout the year. She enjoyed it, but quickly realized how few women participated in them. She did notice a handful of women who regularly played in the events, and who shared with Kimble the same question: Why don’t more women understand the value, from a professional networking standpoint, of playing in these corporate golf events?
It was out of this “moment of frustration” that she pitched the idea of The Pro Shop to her new women golfing friends. Kimble co-founded, along with colleague Christina Millan, The Pro Shop, a non-profit organization which launched on June 7, 2022, to coincide with the international Women’s Golf Day. Kimble serves as president of the board, with Millan as secretary-treasurer.
The mission of The Pro Shop is to empower women in the commercial real estate, architecture, engineering and construction professions into greater positions of influence, through the game of golf. Its motto is a simple call to action: Start with yes.
“We started The Pro Shop to get more women to say ‘yes’ to the game,” Kimble says. “Not only do we love to play, but golf has helped us build our networks and our careers. Getting into the game can be intimidating and overwhelming. We know because we’ve felt all these things too.”
The Pro Shop has four categories of membership, and hosts networking events at the driving range, provides small group golf instructional sessions, produces golf etiquette content and facilitates mentoring opportunities on how to leverage the game of golf for business. It is also open to men.
Does it end there for Kimble? Of course not.
Always on the lookout for ways to inspire women to play the game, she heard about “Playing Through,” the biopic of Ann Gregory, the first Black woman to compete in a USGA national championship. Kimble reached out to the movie’s screenwriter, Curtis Jordan, via Instagram on social media (because, why not?), asking how she can help promote the movie. The producers responded to Kimble, politely suggesting she could organize a private screening for 20-25 of her friends.
Kimble’s response? “I can do better than that.”
How much better? How about filling the 520-seat SIFF Egyptian Theatre in Seattle’s Capitol Hill district?
And why stop there? How about aligning the screening with the Seattle International Film Festival and hold it on March 18, despite the festival itself not taking place until two months after the screening?
And then, how about inviting the film’s stars, Andia Winslow and Julia Rae, and screenwriter, Curtis Jordan, as well as former Seattle Seahawk and new golf business owner Jermaine Kearse, to conduct a panel discussion with the audience after the screening?
Done. And done. And done.
Kimble sees steady incremental improvement in getting more women to participate in corporate golf outings. “Simply put, women just want to be asked to play,” she says. “And for women, they need to start saying yes to the invitations. I see my role, and the purpose of The Pro Shop, as preparing people to accept the invitations.”
It does, after all, start with “yes.”
Tom Cade is the editor of Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine, published by the Pacific Northwest Golf Association. From 2010-2015 he served as president of the Northwest Golf Media Association, and in 2016 received the NWGMA Distinguished Service Award.