A Southland golfer wants to use the game as a platform to help others
The LPGA Tour has become a melting pot of cultures, countries and frequent flyer miles. Sounds like a perfect spot for Helyne Joseph, a golfer with 2017 Symetra Tour status who was born in Antigua, moved to St. Croix, came to the U.S. to get an engineering degree at Penn State and now lives in San Diego where she works on her game while working at Illumina and with Empowerment Through Golf, a women’s social issues and educational platform that also plugs renewable energy options for homes and businesses.
And here I thought making a 3-foot putt was hard.
“I’ve always been a socially active person, and over the years I realized that we can make the biggest impact by helping others become self-sufficient,” Joseph said about her impetus to start Empowerment Through Golf. “About two years ago I went to visit organizations in Rwanda, Kenya and Ethiopia to learn about working in their country to help women become independent. When I came back to San Diego I wanted to show the footage I collected and collaborate with others to come up with ideas that would support these organizations. The goal was to be able to find business ideas to take abroad. That didn’t go over well, but it was a learning experience.”
Now her business is within the renewable energy industry and she’d like to promote her work while competing in, or organizing, golf tournaments in California.
“I’d love to be able to take this business to my home in the Caribbean where I see a massive need for the service,” she said. “I’d also like to offer it as a business solution for the organizations I’ve partnered with in East Africa to encourage them to become self-sustainable.”
Joseph knows that achieving status on the LPGA Tour would give her a bigger platform to discuss her passions and shine a light on the issues.
“Becoming a player and winner on the LPGA Tour would allow me to continue meeting people who are passionate, creative and enthusiastic about making a difference in the world,” she said. “ETG is a concept that brings several types of people together. We’ll play golf to champion for social issues, like giving global women access to business solutions, promoting solid education for youth and inviting more female entrepreneurs to the sport.”
Joseph remembers watching golf tournaments on TV with her father and enjoyed playing because it was a good place to make and meet friends. In 2011, she started playing mini tour events while living and working in Pittsburgh. She tried the same schedule when moving to San Diego but found that “working multiple jobs and putting myself in tournaments wasn’t the best move.” So she concentrated more on golf and since has played on the Cactus Tour, competed with the Virgin Islands team in the Caribbean Championship and achieved Symetra Tour status. Because of her work schedule she isn’t committing to any tournaments until April, meaning she’ll miss the event at Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon in Beaumont March 24-26.
“Golf has pretty much been around my entire life because of my dad. He played, and I tagged along with him everywhere and wanted to do what he was doing,” Joseph said. “It came pretty naturally. I made great friends out on the course and wanted to keep coming out every weekend. I attended college on a partial academic scholarship; my engineering degree was my main focus while at school. I always said to myself that I’d focus on pursuing the tour after graduation.”
So the juggling act of work, golf and trying to make a difference continues.
“It’s been an interesting ride since moving out here on my own and not knowing anyone,” she said about the Southland. “Every day I build my community more and more. I’m definitely getting better at blending all aspects of my life and allowing people around me to understand the vision I have and the purpose behind my work ethic and positive mentality.”