Breaking Down Stereotypes: Kim Valleau’s Ride to Success

Breaking Down Stereotypes: Kim Valleau’s Ride to Success

By: Emma Weller

Kim Valleau stepped on the golf course at age four, eating salt and vinegar chips with her parents – now, she's helping shatter stereotypes in the industry.

Since her debut in competitive golf in 2003, she has received nearly twenty awards for her talent as a player and an industry professional.

To top off her achievements, in 2022, she was named PGA Canada Professional of the Year. Now, she is the head golf professional at the Winston Golf Club in Calgary, Alberta.

But it all started back in rural Saskatchewan.

“When I golfed with my mom and her friends, I was kind of like the pin girl – they would all call me to take the pin out,” Valleau recalled. “Then they would all putt, I would put the pin back in and be like, race you to the carts!”

She grew up in Nipawin, about three hours northeast of Saskatoon, where her parents introduced her to the game.

When high school came around, she got herself her first ‘real’ golf clubs –a set of Titleist irons– and joined the golf team, which sparked her love for the game.

That love continued through university.

After turning down multiple offers to play at university golf in the US, Valleau decided to stay in Canada and attend Mount Royal University in Calgary. Not only did it have a women’s golf team, but it also was starting a ringette team which was a priority for her at the time.

In 2008, she graduated with an applied business degree in entrepreneurship, sport and recreation.

Transition from player to pro

As a recent graduate, Valleau was lost, not knowing what to do next.

“I just came off of playing five years of pretty good competitive golf in Canada and I was like, yeah, I'll try and get my [pro] card… got my card at Red Deer and haven’t looked back since.”

She began her career as an assistant professional, and a few years letter earned Class “A” status with the PGA of Canada.

When a head professional position became available at her course last year, she “jumped at the opportunity.”

“Every day has been a different day – something else to kind of worry about, something else to learn about, a hurdle to overcome, and I just really like the new challenges.”

She says that she strives to continue to educate herself and lean on other pros in the industry for guidance. She added that having access to PGA of Canada’s online Titleist/FootJoy Training Academy has been a big benefit.

“It's all very relevant to what you're doing career-wise. There are entry-level courses, [and] there’s courses if you've been a pro for five years, 10 years, 20 years.”

Breaking the stereotypes

Valleau says staying educated and on top of industry trends is how she tries to get ahead as a woman in the industry.

“I feel like I have to work just a little bit harder [as a female] because there are hints of, ‘you're a female, you're not quite equivalent in the industry.’”

“Things are said to me that aren't said to the male professionals – I still get that to this day. So I feel like I've just had to work a little bit extra than some of the male counterparts at times.”

Luckily, Valleau grew up in a tight-knit community where the boys who golfed didn’t care that she was a girl. From golfing, to swimming in the local lake, to working together – she was always accepted.

Sadly, that is not always the case for women and girls in the sport.

“We need to break down those walls. I would just hate for a female to show up on the golf course thinking like, oh my gosh, this is so intimidating. Like, I don't know that I belong here... I hate that feeling.”

She said she wants all women to feel comfortable on the golf course.

“If you like it, just go do it.”

Leaving her legacy

Recently, Valleau was inducted into the Alberta Colleges Athletics Conference Hall of Fame.

Her induction lines read, “[Kim] is characterized by an unparalleled legacy of excellence and achievement on the golf course. Her dedication to both academics and athletics, coupled with her outstanding performance, has rightfully earned her a place in the annals of Mount Royal's athletic history.”

That legacy continues today and one day, she hopes to take a crack at a general manager role – once again, helping break down gender walls in the industry.

She has also returned to using Titleist equipment as one of their PGA of Canada staff players.

“It's kind of near and dear to my heart. That was where I started with my first real set of golf clubs being Titleist, and now that's where I am in my career.”

Despite her countless achievements at such a young age, she doesn’t consider any to be her most meaningful moment in the sport.

A summer golf tradition back home in Saskatchewan that has been going on for more than 80 years will always have her heart.

“The most meaningful for me is playing at the Waskesiu Lobstick in Saskatchewan. It's a weeklong tournament – it means a lot to me.”

There really isn’t any place like home.

This story is part of a PGA of Canada/Titleist content series, sharing the stories of Titleist staff professionals and their journey with the PGA of Canada and Titleist/FootJoy Training Academy