Sue Fiscoe always has thought of herself as a businesswoman first and a golf pro second. There is one point, however, that can't be argued.
She is a pathfinder.
Fiscoe, the City of Modesto's director of golf since 1990, became the first-ever female president of a PGA of America chapter two years ago. She finished her historic term as Northern California PGA chapter president earlier this month, and she looked back on a 37-year career with pride and satisfaction.
"I think there were a few PGA members who might have said, 'Let's see what's she's like,' " said Fiscoe, 57. "It never got back to me that there was any animosity. I think I was well-received."
Let's break down the numbers to illustrate Fiscoe's impact:
The Northern California PGA chapter comprises about 1,100 club pros, 30 of them women.
The PGA of America, begun in 1916, is divided into 41 sections.
Fiscoe was the first-ever female section president. Since she took the gavel, one more woman followed her to the top -- Cathy Swanson of Minnesota.
"The board was very good to me and Chris Thomas (the NCPGA's executive director) was great," Fiscoe said. "We had 12 members running for four open spots on the board this year. Usually we have to beg members to run. That's a very good sign. Maybe other women's pros now can look at me and say, 'There are other PGA pros out there just like me.' "
Fiscoe was succeeded as section president by Bob Young, the general manager at Stockton Country Club. She formally stepped down earlier this month at the NCPGA's annual meeting at Stockton's Elkhorn CC.
"I thanked my three mentors, Ken Morton (Haggin Oaks), Brad Lozares (Palo Alto Municipal) and Jerry Thorman (Sunnyvale)," she said. "I also thanked Larry Alvarado (Creekside) and George Price (Dryden Park) for taking care of things while I was gone."
Fiscoe will serve as honorary president for the next two years, which means she will still do some traveling to represent the NCPGA at various functions.
"Our national president (Brian Whitcomb) has put me on three national committees," she said. "I do have aspirations to be on the national board and I might run for national office."
More pathfinding ahead?
BETTENCOURT -- Although Matt Bettencourt of Modesto missed fully exempt status on the 2008 Nationwide Tour by only two strokes at the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament, he believes he'll still gain entry at many Nationwide events.
He tied for 85th (6 under par 426 for six rounds), which left him ranked ninth among those conditionally exempt. He rallied the last four rounds after falling to 162nd.
"I'm hoping to play in the first four tournaments in Panama, Mexico, New Zealand," Bettencourt said. "We'll see about the rest of the year, but I'm ranked high in my status group."
Bettencourt, 32, improved in 2007 on the Canadian Tour. An improved short game put more than $32,000 in his pocket, and he made 11 of 11 cuts en route to his No. 15 ranking on the tour's order of merit. He also won the Northern California Open for the third time at Saddle Creek in Copperopolis.
"I missed my PGA Tour card by eight shots, which sounds like a lot but it's really just a shot here and there," he said. "I worked very hard on my wedge play and putting this year and saw some results. I really think next year is the year for me. I took it too serious the first time I was on Nationwide (2004 and '05) and let things get to me. I think I'm a little stronger mentally now."
THE SHAG BAG -- Mike Cook, the head pro at Mountain Springs in Sonora, earned NorCal PGA Section Senior of the Year honors at Elkhorn. ... Looking for last-minute stocking stuffers? Tickets to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where Phil Mickelson will defend his title Feb. 7-10, might be an answer. Tickets must be purchased before Thursday to ensure Christmas delivery. Call 800-541-9091. ... Poppy Hills once again was ranked among the nation's top 100 golf shops by Golf World magazine. The shop offers 20 percent discounts for Northern California Golf Association members.
Bee sports columnist Ron Agostini can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2302.