Sylvia Joe did not expect that her charity work for Fiji Women’s Club would one day lead her to become a household name in golf.
In 1987, Joe came across an advertisement in the newspaper of a golf clinic being held in Suva and decided to attend.
She took up the sport then and referred to it as like a duck to water.
After discovering how naturally good she was at it, Joe continued on with the sport and has grown her status and connection with both the sports and business community.
“My entry to golf when I was at 25-years old since I could afford my first golf set then,” Joe said.
“It has provided a wider scope of the business relationship and similarly a networking platform of business people that makes the sport enterprising and exciting.”
She said one of the major challenges is the theory of normal aging.
“It is how smart we can offer or sell the concept to the next generation who will continue the walk,” she said.
“In this mindset, I make this statement that golf needs to consider increasing its appeal to children and teenagers.
“If this sport wants growth, it can’t rely on just elderly men and women.
“We also need to change the landscape of this sport by encouraging women to manage golf clubs, be greenkeepers and take more leadership roles.
“Yes, you can call it gender empowerment but it is obvious that women have eye-for-detail and that will improve or make a difference in the sport.”
Today Joe, alongside her husband Michael, owns Joe’s Farm Produce, a highly reputable company widely known for its uncompromising levels of quality and service within the local and international food industry.
The company has evolved from a humble farm produce distribution enterprise into a vibrantly established growth entity engaged in the production of farm-fresh produce and general groceries.
Managing the administration, retail and bookkeeping, the business can be difficult at times but she has been able to balance both golf and the running of the business.
“Golf comes in a package that makes me hard to refuse,” Joe said.
“Its popularity has dug deeper and drives me every day to achieve what I want in life.
“This is a motivation behind golf as I see it essential in my life and business.”
During a tournament, Joe said she had accidentally hit a fellow golfer near her temple with golf ball.
It had taken her months to overcome that terrible moment but with the support from her husband, she overcame that traumatic experience and continued to play at the Fiji Golf Club.
“I would like to thank my husband for the support and also the appropriate training I had which helped me through in managing these critical areas of business.”
Joe recalls some of the pinnacle moments in her life.
“Some of the most memorable moments was when I first won the Fiji Ladies Golf Open in 1997 and later won three more,” she said.
“I first had a hole-in-one during a competition in Australia, which is my one to date in my golfing career.
“Also winning the Vanuatu Open, the Papua New Guinea Open and being part of the Brisbane and districts team where I played in tournaments around Queensland.”
Joe believes that when it comes to the sport, most women who play are either mothers or career women.
Although golf is expensive, time-consuming and male-dominated, she said it would require national federations and other golf bodies to focus on encouraging more women and girls to play it.
“We need to stay within the sport as members of clubs, while also empowering women to enjoy successful careers,” she said.
“I have been club captain and president of the women’s golf, junior golf coordinator and have managed and organized the prestigious Fiji Women’s Golf Open which encourages a lot of overseas golfers to come to Fiji and play.”
Edited by Osea Bola