James Madison University

NEW COLLEGES FORMED A plan to reorganize the College of Integrated Science and Technology into two colleges took effect July 1, 2012. The new colleges are the College of Health and Behavioral Studies and the College of Integrated Science and Engineering.

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JMU Grad's Charity Work is a Hole in One

By Amanda Rivera
Posted: April 25, 2008

PHOTO: Janet PhillipsComing to James Madison University, Alumna Janet Phillips had something besides academics on her mind.  For this Sports Management graduate, college was just another playing field.  “I was 8 years old when I started [playing golf].  I enjoyed practicing and playing in tournaments when I was a teenager.   I started working at the course when I was about 12 years old and have never left the golf industry,” she says.  Nor does Janet plan to leave any time soon, staying busy as co-owner of the largest Virginian sports complex and the 2006 Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Professional of the year.

Playing on the women’s golf team at JMU and taking classes in sports management only fueled her passion.  Interning at a golf complex in Maryland after graduation and then working at a private golf course in Florida, Janet eventually found her way into competitive golf.  Joining the Futures Tour, a women’s mini-golf tour, Janet earned membership into the Professional Golf Association (PGA) in 1998.  The JMU graduate says, “When I took my PAT [Playing Ability Test] it was me and 143 guys, only 5 players passed and I was one of them.”

In between the tour and earning PGA status, Janet opened the Windy Hills Sports Complex in Midlothian, Virginia with her husband at the time.  Boasting immense golf facilities, batting cages, go-karts, as well as home to instructional lessons, clinics and tournaments, Janet admits that this is where most of her energy is devoted.  “I wish I had more time to play golf competitively these days but with all the things that go with owning the largest sports complex in Virginia, my practice days are limited,” she says.  Despite her packed schedule, Janet has made sure to provide for the future generations of like-minded women. As founder of the McDonald’s Junior Girls Classic, she says, “When I grew up in the Richmond area there were about 4 girls that played junior golf with 100 boys.  Good odds for dating but not for golfing.  So I wanted to have an environment that girls could have fun being with other girls and learn the game of golf.  I also wanted to show them positive female role models.  I think it has been very successful on both fronts.”

Janet has also used her to talents to delve into community service.  She says, “I know it sounds corny but golf has been good to me and it offers the vehicle to give back.  I just can’t imagine not volunteering and I get more back from the people I meet than I could ever possibly give.”  The same year she earned PGA membership, she served as the Honorary Chairperson for the Virginia Women’s Charity Golf Classic, an event to provide assistance to battered women and children.  Some of her other work has included offering free clinics to the Boys and Girls Club and hosting special clinics for golf pros on how to teach the game to the physically and mentally challenged at the Sheltering Arms Rehabilitation Hospital.  The Windy Hills Sports Complex has also ushered in the first Special Olympics in the state.

In recognition of her prosperous career and extensive service work, Janet was recently awarded with the 16th Annual Outstanding Alumnus Award from the JMU Kinesiology Department.  Receiving this award, Janet acknowledges the women who motivated her, including current JMU Kinesiology faculty Dr. Judith Flohr and past JMU faculty Dr. Lee Morrison, Dr. Pat Bruce, Dr. Marilyn Crawford, Dr. Rose Mary Rummel and Dr. Jean Dalton.   She says, “These ladies showed all of us in that field that women can run the departments and have a great role to play.  I always knew I could do anything I wanted to but these ladies proved that women are equal to our male counterparts.  That was inspiring.”