People you should know in golf: Maria Bonzagni

Golf Equipment

FootJoy's Maria Bonzagni is one of the great characters in the golf industry. She is very passionate about gloves and thinks you should be too...

Maria Bonzagni is the senior director for golf gloves at FootJoy.

She oversees the manufacturing and marketing for the overwhelming market leaders when it comes to golf gloves.

We always look forward to catching up with Maria at the PGA Show in Orlando as she is one of the most vibrant and passionate characters in the golf industry.

What she doesn’t know about gloves isn’t worth knowing. But what would she be doing if she wasn’t working in golf? Read on to find out…

Maria Bonzagni

Where did you grow up?

Lynnfield, Massachusetts.

When did you first get into golf?

I’m the youngest of five and my dad played golf. My brothers caddied at Salem Country Club in Massachusetts. In the late 1970s he asked my mum to play – she was in her late 30s and really athletic. He also asked my sister and I if we wanted to play.

I was 12 years old, I took lessons from the head professional there and that’s how I started.

We were all athletic so took to it quite easily but I was the one who continued to practice and started working in the shop when I was aged 13.

The pro continued to be my mentor and said he’d continue to give me lessons if I promised to practice and by the time I hit 17 I won the Massachusetts state junior championship.

How did you get from working in a pro shop at 13 to joining FootJoy?

Maria Bonzagni

After graduating from Bentley University in Massachusetts I majored in marketing with a minor in management. Went into banking for a few years and completely got out of golf.

By the time I was 25 I was ready to get back into golf. I had the opportunity to start at the ground level at FootJoy – that was in customer service.

That’s where we mean when we talk about grass roots. So that was 1990 and it’s been 27 years in various positions in footwear outerwear, golf gloves with Titleist, soft goods.

Now I oversee, globally, the manufacturing and marketing of golf gloves.

What was the key to your success?

Ultimately, it takes passion. Passion is what drives you and if you love what you do, then it doesn’t feel like work.

You’re satisfying consumer needs – they want to play better, feel better. And if you can put a smile on that consumer’s face or hear that a tour player is more comfortable it’s great. It’s a team thing, there’s so many people involved in getting a product from beginning to end.

Beef golf

Golf is all we do and you interact with so many other people who love golf.

What was the best decision you ever made?

Marrying my husband Eddie who is a Boston firefighter. I’m extremely proud of him and my son Jack – he’s the apple of my eye.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give?

I do give a lot of advice to kids in high school. Even in high school – everyone has a resume. They just don’t often look back to see what they have accomplished.

If people think about where they have come from it’s really a road map to where they are going to go.

Find a career that matches up to the attributes that you have and to what you are passionate about.

I’m the same person at home as I am at work. I have the same enthusiasm when talking to my husband about gloves.

If you weren’t working in golf what would you be doing?

I’d be giving career advice in high school to help give young people arrows to what they might like to do in their life.

Current golf handicap?

Probably 12-14 because I only play about eight rounds a year. I’m quite good off that handicap.

Have you ever had a hole-in-one?

Never. I’m very disappointed. Still looking.

Tiger or Jack?

My son is called Jack, so Jack.

Jack Nicklaus

What is the one thing you can’t live without?

My son.

What’s the most significant innovation in golf equipment since you’ve been in the industry?

Velcro. Velcro has made the glove.

Fore more information visit the FootJoy website.

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