PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – PGA of America Secretary Ted Bishop gets understandably emotional when thinking back to the days when his youngest daughter, Ambry, began showing interest in golf.
"She was about six or seven and could hang out at a course all day. She would play one or two holes, then head to the nearest pond to look for golf balls, and repeat that," said Bishop, the general manager and director of golf at The Legends of Indiana Golf Club in Franklin, Ind. "I didn't think that she would ever have the attention span to play.
"Well, she went on to earn a full-ride scholarship to Indiana, was a four-year letter winner and she became a fine college coach. When she decided to become a PGA member, she knew it would be a tougher road. It was the one she picked and I'm very proud, of course."
LaRosa, who turns 28 on Feb. 23, earned PGA of America membership Feb. 12, as part of an 81-member class advancing through the PGA Professional Golf Management program at the PGA Education Center in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
LaRosa is believed to be the first daughter of a PGA national officer to attain PGA membership.
"It feels good to be done, knowing that I have achieved it," said LaRosa. "I believed that it was the right career path for me. It is definitely a great feeling to be able to share this with my Dad, my family."
LaRosa added her latest accomplishment despite a busy job description – she is an assistant professional at St. Andrews Golf Club in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., and is serving in her sixth season as women's golf coach at St. John's University in Queens, N.Y.
In 2004 at age 22, LaRosa became the youngest active Division I college coach. During her rookie season, she guided St. John's to its first Big East Conference championship and earned Coach of the Year honors.
"When you accomplish something like that the first year, they say it is all downhill after that," joked LaRosa. "I am lucky that I can schedule both jobs. First, there's the great experience working at St. Andrews with [PGA head professional] Charlie Hicks and with assistant Greg Bisconti [low PGA club professional in the 2009 PGA Championship].
"When we travel with the team in the spring, it is pretty easy. The fall is the tough part. I am blessed to be at St. Andrews, which keeps me updated in golf and as a professional. As a coach, I love the interaction with the girls.
"I'm not your typical coach. I am not out on the road recruiting, but relying upon videos and upon information from PGA Professionals who recommend players."
Bishop said that he had seen his daughter's competitiveness carry over into coaching.
"She always had tremendous nerves in the toughest most pressure-packed situations," said Bishop. "I saw her coach that way."
While in the early years of her St. John's coaching term, LaRosa split time while working for the Metropolitan PGA Section in Elmsford, N.Y.
"Ambry's enthusiasm and passion for golf was immediately evident and she brought a professional perspective to our Junior Golf programs," said Metropolitan PGA Executive Director Charles Robson. "When she decided to enter the golf professional ranks at The St. Andrew's Golf Club it was certainly our loss and their gain. She has been a great asset to their staff. Her ability to balance her job here and at St. Andrew's with her commitment to St. John's and her goal to become a PGA member is a great testimony to her upbringing."
LaRosa's journey to PGA membership received perhaps its biggest boost from her most trusted "study partner" – her husband, Rob LaRosa, the PGA head professional at Sterling Farms Golf Course in Stamford, Conn.
The couple met in 2005 while both attended a First Tee meeting in the Metropolitan PGA Section, and were married in January 2008.
"I'm very proud of what Ambry did," said Rob. "She had a lot of pressure upon her, knowing that I had made it through the program in 18 months and with her Dad being the Secretary of The PGA. She definitely went down the right path to becoming what is the blueprint for becoming a golf professional.
"I'm not afraid to say that she is a better player than I ever will be. I think that she can compete well against the guys, and as a PGA member she now may enter many of the member championships."
Last summer, Ambry tied for eighth in the 2009 Lincoln Women's Metropolitan Open Championship, with her father as caddie.
Ambry has received the guidance of another coach, Michael Breed of Greenwich, Conn., a PGA teaching professional and host of Golf Channel's popular program, "The Golf Fix." Breed said he received a call from Bishop last year, asking if he could take a look at Ambry's game.
"After spending time working with Ambry, I knew that she could be successful," said Breed. "She is a real hard worker, and she called back to let me know that she shot a 69 with her members.
"What she has done to earn PGA membership doesn't surprise me. She has the desire to be successful. She applies what she hears on the practice tee to her coaching. She has a love of people and a desire to help kids. She does it almost instinctively. I believe that if you improve yourself and given an opportunity, you can go and improve others as well."
The Bishop-LaRosa PGA membership lineage is expecting a new addition soon.
Ted Davidson, the husband of Bishop's eldest daughter, Ashely, is an assistant professional at The Legends of Indiana Golf Club who is planning to enroll in the PGA Professional Golf Management program.