Meet Ruth Kimmelshue – General Chair Of The 2019 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship
By R.J. Smiley
Shortly after the most successful Ryder Cup Matches in the history of the event, Hazeltine National Golf Club, the PGA of America, the LPGA and KPMG announced that in June of 2019 Hazeltine National Golf Club would host a Women’s Major Championship – The 2019 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
The biggest question facing Hazeltine decision makers: Who would represent Hazeltine as General Chair?
Ruth Kimmelshue was quickly identified as the obvious choice. Ruth’s resume reads like a Who’s Who for the job of General Chair of a Major Golf Championship.
Kimmelshue leads the Executive Committee for Cargill, an international Minnesota based company that feeds the world. When asked to describe her day job, Ruth, the mother of an eleven year old daughter, said, “My daughter, who went to work with me recently, said, ‘Mom, all you do is go to meetings all day.’” As head of the Executive Committee, Kimmelshue is adept at discussing very complex issues with very intelligent people. In addition to leading the Executive Committee, she is the Chief Sustainability Office where she has her finger on the pulse of continuous food production.
Ruth is an advocate for parity for women in all walks of life. She understood from the day she was approached about the General Chair position that the best compliment that she could receive would be gender-neutral praise. The first thing that Kimmelshue did was chose her good friend Marcia Lockman, longtime Hazeltine member and successful businesswoman, as her Vice-Chair. Ruth lives with the motto, “Success is critical to who you surround yourself with. Marcia is much better at detail than I am.”
During the 2016 Ryder Cup, Ruth Kimmelshue worked as a volunteer and felt the emotion and size of the huge gallery up close. Shortly after she was selected as General Chair, she and Marcia attended the 2017 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Olympia Fields near Chicago.
“We could not believe the difference between championship women’s golf and the Ryder Cup. Women’s golf is a much more intimate experience. The gallery is smaller and the fans are allowed to follow along with their favorite players and observe them up close. We knew that we could not re-create the Ryder Cup experience, so Marcia and I decided that we would make the 2019 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Hazeltine a wonderful experience for everyone involved. We wanted to make it a great experience for the players and their caddies. We wanted to make it a great experience for the kids, for the older folks and the entire community. We wanted to make it a great experience for the volunteers, without them we could not run the event.”
The following year, Ruth and Marcia went to Kemper Lakes for the 2018 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. That year their goal was to observe all the details of the championship. While at Kemper Lakes, they were intent on operation details that would make the Hazeltine event something truly great for all involved.
Ruth said with a smile, “The 2019 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship will be the first women’s golf championship where all players will have a courtesy car. Normally only the top 20 or so players get that perk. The club is providing special gifts to all the players and the very strong junior golf program at Hazeltine is allowing their junior golfers to write a personal note to each contestant welcoming them to Hazeltine. We have even taken special care to provide the very best offsite day care for players with children.”
There will be a Kid’s Zone at the far end of the practice range and the volunteers will have a comfortable place with great food to rest and watch the tournament between shifts.
For the fans, Ruth Kimmelshue is happy to let fans know that all parking for the 2019 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship will be on the grounds of Hazeltine (weather permitting). “Golf fans will be able to spend more time watching these great players and less time in transit. We encourage golf fans to drive, walk, ride their bikes or Uber when attending the Championship.”
Ruth made a special point to express the pride she feels getting the women members of Hazeltine involved in the management of the Championship. “Our Executive Committee is made up of three people, two women and one man. We have 16 women members working as heads of Committees involved with the Championship.”
It is hard to believe that a busy woman like Ruth Kimmelshue would have time to play golf. When asked about her own golf game, Ruth replied, “I am the worst golfer in my family. My husband is a low handicap player and my two boys, age 17 and 15 participate on the Minnetonka High School golf team. My daughter is taking lessons and learning the game.” With such a busy schedule, it’s hard to believe she has time to play golf – hopefully things lighten up for her in July.