Positive Influencer - Haley Bookholdt uses social media to bring female golfers of all ages together

Positive Influencer - Haley Bookholdt uses social media to bring female golfers of all ages together

This story appeared in the Winter 2023 Issue of New Jersey Golf. To read more from this issue click here.


“The world needs your spunk.”

Those five words greet every visitor to Haley Bookholdt’s social media pages, where her blend of golf and lifestyle content is consumed by hundreds of thousands of followers each day. It’s a place where golfers of all backgrounds and abilities can go to connect through a common game that’s meant for everyone.

A New Jersey native, Bookholdt was introduced to the golf at a young age playing at Old York Country Club in Chesterfield with her father and a few other adult male members. It was at Old York that she learned the basic mechanics of the golf swing, the do's and don'ts of golf etiquette and—of course—how to bet on the game.

“It was a great club with a very family-oriented mindset. The guys there were so nice to let me play and do things like be a part of their skins games every week,” Bookholdt recalled. “Early on I learned how to play in that setting—more so than playing with other kids. So, that was probably really good for me.”

From there, Bookholdt kicked off her junior golf career. She first competed in U.S. Kids events before eventually graduating to play in AJGA tournaments all over the Garden State.

“First of all, growing up in New Jersey, the weather definitely provides a good amount of grit. I would say I've only played on a course a few weeks out of the year and the rest into a net in my basement,” Bookholdt joked. “But more than anything, I actually found that in New Jersey at that time there were so few female junior golfers.”

After a four-year collegiate golf career at Elon University, Bookholdt graduated without any plans for a career in the game of golf.

“I got a job as a technical recruiter in Charlotte, but I didn’t feel like I was using my skills to the best of my ability. I felt like I was not doing what I should be doing in this world,” she said.

A short while after, Bookholdt moved to San Diego with her now-fiancé, Davis Cheek, as he prepared for the NFL Draft. Working as a recruiter on the West Coast with an East Coast work schedule, her afternoons began to open up.

“I was getting off work at like two in the afternoon and Davis was getting really into golf, so we ended up starting to practice together. I was slowly getting back into it and then I started making videos,” she said. “I was inspired to start because I was hoping to find friends to play golf with. So, my content was kind of centered around finding other girls to play with and share experiences with.”

That’s when it all clicked for Bookholdt.

Above: Davis Cheek and Haley Bookholdt

“I struggled growing up to stay motivated and inspired to play because none of my friends played. In my adult life, I’ve seen how golf is great for networking purposes, but it’s tough to comprehend that when you are younger,” Bookholdt explained. “That’s why a lot of what I do in social media now is trying to get more women involved in golf, because that's something I always kind of felt like I was missing. I always wished I had some friends to grow up and play golf and travel with.”

With a newfound passion for growing the game through social media content creation, Bookholdt has worked to establish her brand as an ambassador for women’s golf while still being a relatable casual golfer.

Scrolling through her social channels, @haleybookholdt on both Instagram and TikTok, one can find a wide variety of content. There’s plenty of golf, of course—from mic’d up range sessions and closest to the pin challenges to discussions on golf outfits and gear—but Bookholdt will also get into everything from skincare routines to wedding dress shopping.

However, Bookholdt’s attempt to introduce female golfers of all skill levels and backgrounds stretches beyond just her social feed. In May, she helped create the “Golf Girl Network”, a private group on Facebook intended to function as a safe space for female golfers looking for other women to play and practice with, as well as to connect and network. The group has already grown to over 20,000 users.

“We were getting a lot of comments on my page of girls saying they’d love to meet up and try to connect with one another, so I thought I would start a Facebook group so people could connect more safely and get to know each other,” she said. “Women who are interested in golf can link up with girls at their skill level to play, or maybe can get answers for questions they may have. It’s a great place to network and meet people in business but it’s also a place to talk about their outfits or clubs that they recommend. It's just been so cool to see, and it’s been one of the coolest things that's come out of my social media career so far.”

Growing up on the competitive side of golf, Bookholdt still holds herself to a high playing standard on the course.

Learning to adjust to a more casual approach to the game in her content is something she is still trying to master.

“Ultimately, I want to be a positive influence and I want to encourage girls to play golf. So, I feel like me complaining about my issues isn’t the most helpful,” she admitted. “I'm still just as hard on myself when I'm not playing as well, and it can be difficult to maintain that bubbly personality when I am not playing so well.”

“What I've come to realize,” she added, “is that people appreciate videos of things maybe not going so well on the golf course. So I’ve stopped making another swing and fake smiling because I think everybody can relate to the mistakes. That's been one of the greatest joys in my content recently.”

Looking forward, Bookholdt has big plans for the “Golf Girl Network”, with hopes to potentially expand it into an official tour with events for average and casual female golfers.

“My goal for 2024 is to start putting together events where female golfers can meet other women, network, have fun, play in scrambles and just enjoy the game in the way that men historically have,” Bookholdt said.

“There’s not that many avenues for women to do that right now unless you're lucky. Like I said, I was lucky to be part of a club that really welcomed me but more than anything I would love, especially for younger girls, to feel at peace and welcomed when they enter a golf course.”

Bookholdt knows there is a lot of work left to do when it comes to growing the game and breaking down barriers, but a little spunk can go a long way.

“We're just trying to make things a little bit more accessible,” she said.

“The number one thing I love about my job is finding joy in supporting other women. Just seeing the game grow and seeing women feel less intimidated and empowered to show up to a golf course with friends or even by themselves is incredible. It’s showing such growth in the game for women, and that's really exciting for me.”


This story appeared in the Winter 2023 Issue of New Jersey Golf. To read more from this issue click here.

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