The thing about Heather Deranek is not
that she’s a woman. Or that she’s an
attorney. Or that she has boundless
energy. Or even that she has enthusiasm
that’s downright contagious.
The thing about Deranek is that she’s
all those things. Breaking into professional golf as a player agent – and competing in her rookie year – she’s going to
need everything that makes her stand out
to survive the shark tank into which she
has plunged headfirst. Plus, a great deal
of good luck couldn’t hurt one bit.
But you’re not telling her anything she
doesn’t already know. And that makes her
resolve even more steely.
“There’s nothing I love more than to
prove people wrong,” says Deranek. “And
being able to be successful when people
think it couldn’t be done. I’ve had people
say to me, ‘Oh, you’re really cute. You
should be in sales but you shouldn’t be an
“I’ve had people tell me that I wouldn’t
be successful if I didn’t work for a big
agency first. It just makes me want to
work that much harder. The more people
tell me that I can’t, the more I want to
prove that I can.”
And therein lies a big part of the mis-
sion statement of Hi-Def Rep, Deranek’s
newborn agency, based in Seattle, about
a half hour from where she grew up. Her
road to the golf business has been circu-
itous. But in her mind, she kept her cart
on the path that led from where she was to
where she wanted to be.
A graduate of the University of Washington with a degree in communications,
she is also a graduate of the Thomas
Jefferson School of Law in San Diego.
“Doing your homework on the beach is not
a bad way to go,” she says.
In 2010, there were two professional
golf events in the Seattle area – the U.S.
Senior Open and the Boeing Classic, both
on the Champions Tour. Through a friend,
she was introduced to Phil Stambaugh, a
media official on the Champions Tour. She
told Stambaugh at the Senior Open
that she wanted to learn everything
there was to know about his job.
The two connected two
weeks later and Deranek
started her journey, getting
her post-graduate education
about how the media center
works at a professional
event. For the next few
weeks, she flew on
her own dime on the
weekends, volunteering in each
immersed in the
how the media
works, she set
out to find out
how players are represented.
the business of poaching guys who had
agents. So I had a list of guys who didn’t
have agents. Once you get to the point
where people see you on Tour and know
you by name, you know you’ve made an
impact. The only way I was going to do that
was to be out there. I wasn’t going to
accomplish much sitting on my couch.”
A friend of a friend got her in touch
with Gary Christian, who, at age 39, will
be a rookie on the PGA Tour next year
by virtue of finishing in the top 25 on the
Nationwide Tour in 2011, and before long,
a deal was struck.
“It’s a tough business for her to break
into,” said Christian, an Englishman
who lives in Alabama. “But she’s not
high-pressure and she came across as
extremely intelligent and keen to go the
Cleveland Golf was not willing to extend
Christian a deal for 2012, even though he
had been using the company’s equipment
for several years. But Deranek negotiated
a contract for Christian with Adams Golf,
done in an environment where club and
ball deals are shrinking, especially for
players without a big name.
One of Deranek’s clients is Tommy
Bahama and she brokered a deal for Ken
Duke to wear the company’s clothing and
logo while he won the Nationwide Tour
Championship. It’s not huge, but it’s a
place to start.
“Gary likes to say that we both have a
little underdog in us,” Deranek says.