By Clifford Cowley
Occupation: Assistant Golf Professional at Tacoma Country & Golf Club
Location: Lakewood, WA
Pro Status: PGA Member since 2009
Born and raised in Federal Way, Washington, Sara Griffin started playing golf at age eight with her parents at Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club. Her mom was a flight attendant for United Airlines and, according to Sara, has a crazy passion for golf and is very involved in the game to this day. Her mom has been a PNGA Rep for many years, and is the SWGA President as well. “Mom was a strong influence on my early years of competitive golf and in my choice to be a golf professional,” says Sara. Her dad was Director of Flight Operations for United, and retired when Sara was eight. She started playing in the WJGA when she was twelve, under the tutelage of Lesley Holbert at Studio Fore in Bellevue. “Since Mom did a lot of traveling, Dad became ‘Mr. Mom’. He volunteered at school, was our Blue Bird leader, and he took me to all my golf lessons and matches.” A self-admitted daddy’s girl, Sara cherishes her early years and the time she was able to spend with her father. Even when she moved away from home, Sara called her dad frequently for advice on anything and everything. “He was, and still is my hero,” she says proudly. “He was a very wise man who just wanted me to be happy, no matter what I chose to do in life.” Sadly, he passed away in 2012. “I miss him tons,” says Sara with a tinge of melancholy. “I still talk to him all the time,” she admits.
Sara graduated from Federal Way High School in 1991 as a four-year letterman on the boy’s high school team. She was the first girl to letter in golf at FWHS. After high school, she went on to play at Oregon State University for Risë Lakowske. While at Oregon State, one of the highlights of her college years was a three week tour with the Pac-10 All-Star team, competing in Asia. “That’s where I got the bug to travel and golf,” says Sara. “Now, my husband, Chris, and I have a blast being golf nerds and traveling all over the world playing golf.”
Sara graduated from OSU with a degree in Zoology. “I wanted to study Orcas,” she says.” But then Lakowske asked her to be her assistant coach. “That’s when I realized I liked giving back to the game through coaching. Risë taught me a lot about parenting and coaching and surviving school and relationships. It was a wonderful experience to play for her and then coach with her– and finally coach against her. She was a great support system in that chapter of my life.”
After two years as an assistant at OSU, the University of San Francisco asked her to be their head coach where she exhibited a winning style developing a Top-25 ranked team, securing a West Coast Conference Championship, and making eight consecutive NCAA regional appearances. “I thoroughly enjoyed it. Coaching truly made me love the game and it was great to be able to share my passion for the game with others,” says Sara excitedly.
“When my marriage didn’t work out, we decided to move back to the Pacific Northwest in 2005 to raise our daughter, Emma, in two households. It seems funny to mention a divorce in a golf interview,” admits Sara, “but the reason I bring it up is it was a significant event that facilitated a change in my life, and led to the comfortable place in life that I have now.” Shortly after moving back, a chance meeting at Costco with relatives of the General Manager at Tacoma Country and Golf Club led to a job opportunity at the club. “Everything just worked out,” says Sara. “During the winter, I moon-lighted at Starbucks to make ends meet. From there, everything just got better and better. I really like where I’m at in life right now.”
While working at TCGC, she entered the PGA Program earning her membership in 2009. In 2011 and 2013, she was honored with the Western Washington Chapter Assistant Golf Professional of the Year award. In 2015, she received the Pacific Northwest Section Youth Player Development Award. “I’ve dedicated myself to growing the club’s junior golf program, and helping local junior golfers reach their goals. I feel lucky to have so many families and children to work with. My passion for teaching grows every season, and I love to continually learn new theories and ideas.” Most recently, she became a Certified HeartMath Coach.
Sara has had many people in her life that have been an influence on her. Besides her parents and Risë, Sara mentions Monte Koch, PGA Regional Manager in the PNWPGA, as an amazing resource and supporter. “He has given me the courage to dream big and follow through.” And of course, Chris Griffin, her husband and fellow Assistant Golf Professional at TCGC. “We were married on 10-11-12!” she quips. “He is such a supportive inspiration for me. Our partnership has grown since we started working together in 2005. It is just the best to share the passion of golf with your life partner.” Most of all, Sara lists her daughter, Emma, as her main inspiration. “Being her mom is the best thing in the world. I learn from her every day. Now fourteen, with a passion for volleyball and an amazing swing, she has taught me patience and appreciation for children.”
Sara Griffin’s personality and positive attitude is exactly what golf needs. She is a present, neatly wrapped by others, as a gift to the game of golf.
Carry on, Sara.
What’s In Sara’s Bag?
LTD Driver LTD
F6 3 wood
4-iron to PW
Titleist SM6 wedges
Scotty Cameron Del Mar putter