For Sheena Prante, her new role at The Home Course in DuPont, Wash. is something of a homecoming. For a brief season a dozen years ago, she worked temporarily in the course’s golf shop, a quick stop on her way to other adventures.
She now returns as a certified Class A PGA Professional, tasked with developing a strong and varied women’s program, a diverse junior program, serving as the pro shop’s lead merchandiser, as well as taking on the course’s social media content and interaction.
She’ll be utilizing the newly-opened Performance Center, a stand-alone fully-enclosed facility located on the course’s driving range that utilizes the latest performance technology and is open year-round. She’ll be sharing this facility with The Home Course’s two other teaching PGA Professionals, John Cassidy and Shane Prante (Sheena’s older brother).
Originally from Olympia, just down the road from The Home Course, Sheena brings to her new duties a full background of playing and coaching experience, a Master’s degree in athletic administration, and a history of developing new instructional programs.
Sheena played her first round of golf when she was seven, and started playing in tournaments when she was eight. She would finish second in two PNGA Women’s Amateur Public Links Championships (2002, 2005), and would later earn a scholarship to play on the Eastern Washington University women’s golf team, where she would have two top-10 finishes in the Big Sky Conference Championship and would also serve as the school’s assistant coach for the women’s golf team for two years.
But after her college experience, Sheena left the game completely. “I felt really burned out,” she recalls. “Honestly, it was a relief to not have to play any more tournaments, to not have to practice constantly. I was tired of the daily grind of tournament life.”
For the next seven years, Sheena did not pick up a golf club. She had graduated with a degree in recreation management, and during her time away from the game she earned a Master’s degree in athletic administration.
“I knew I wanted to get back into athletics somehow,” Sheena says. “But I really wasn’t sure how or where.”
In August of 2017, after seven years of being away from the golf world, Sheena began working part-time in the pro shop at Salish Cliffs Golf Club in Shelton, Wash., viewing it as a temporary job until she could find a permanent position somewhere else.
“One day the head pro at Salish Cliffs asked me if I’d consider joining the PGA program,” she recalls. “And I remember thinking, ‘I don’t want to do that; that sounds boring.’ I’d been away from the game for so long, and knew the PGA program to be something of a male-dominated industry, so I was a little nervous about it.”
But she has no regrets. “I absolutely love it,” she says. “I’m really glad I took the opportunity.” She entered the program in May of 2019, and eventually earned status as a Class A PGA Professional.
“I also remember thinking at the time that teaching golf would be boring,” she says with a laugh. “But I now see it as the best part of my job. I love it.”
The other element that made this a natural fit for Sheena was Salish Cliffs being owned by the Squaxin Island Tribe. “My dad is one-quarter Muscogee from Oklahoma,” she says. “Many of the papers I wrote in college for my degree were on the development of golf programs for Native American youth. So yes, I immediately saw this as an opportunity to reach out to these kids.”
She began going up to the Native American neighborhoods to do golf sessions with the kids during the summers. She also began working with the Squaxin Island Police Department, Natural Resources officers and Animal Services personnel to get them involved with the kids, meeting them, playing golf with them and becoming familiar with each other.
Now at The Home Course, Sheena has already connected with the nearby Nisqually Tribe, to continue the same kind of work with their youth.
“I told Justin (Gravatt, general manager at The Home Course) that this is something I really want to do,” she says. “I’ve always felt a connection to Native American kids, and would like to do what I can to provide opportunities for them.”
So along with her other duties at The Home Course, Sheena will take over the development of a Junior program, including reaching out to the Nisqually Tribe community.
“I think it is beneficial for these youths to get to know leaders in the community,” she says. “Just building those relationships that they can carry with them in the future. Golf is a great game to get the kids involved in, and starting while they are young is really important as well.”
She’ll be bringing that foundational philosophy to everyone at The Home Course.