Of all the programs that golf has tried to bring adults into the game, and it has tried many, none has succeeded like the Executive Women’s Golf Association.
The group’s focus on working women, its awareness of the importance of golf’s social dimension, its dual emphasis on fun and competition, all have made it a winner since its establishment in 1991, with more than 100 chapters across the country.
It was no surprise that last year the LPGA Foundation allied with the EWGA to form the LPGA Amateur Golf Association, a move to build on the EWGA’s success with the national promotional and organizational clout of the LPGA.
It should also not come as a surprise, then, that the CSGA will now partner with the LPGA Amateurs to grow participation among women in Connecticut.
“It makes all the sense in the world,” said CSGA Executive Director Mike Moraghan. “There is no question we have made strides in how we recognize, promote, include and support women's golf in Connecticut. This new effort with the LPGA Amateur Golf Association presents a new opportunity to expand our involvement with women's golf.”
Through the partnership the CSGA has created an LPGA AM club and administers handicaps to the club. It will promote the LPGA Amateurs to its members, especially at women’s events but also through its various communications to members. For its part the LPGA Amateurs will promote CSGA competitive opportunities to its members.
“The LPGA Amateur Golf Association is thrilled to be partnering with the CSGA in support of our shared goal to engage more women across Connecticut in the game of golf,” said Hollie West, the association's Director of Membership . “The LPGA Amateurs provides social/fun golf leagues and play as well as local, regional and national competitive events, while the CSGA serves its membership primarily through competitive tournaments throughout the state. By collaborating at the grass roots live, LPGA Amateurs and CSGA will be cross-promoting events as well as providing both sets of members more access to different golfing opportunities.”
LPGA Amateurs has two chapters in Connecticut— Fairfield County and Central Connecticut—offering access, team events, leagues, clinics, tournaments, education about the game and social events for hundreds of women. “We’re really happy that our two organizations got together,” said Wendy Woolf, President of the LPGA Amateurs Fairfield County Chapter. “It can’t help but increase golf opportunities for women across the state.” Said Marsha Rupp, Director of Women’s Golf and Client Services for the CSGA: “The CSGA is very excited to promote the LPGA Amateurs to junior girls and women across the state, and provide rules education, tournament administration and player development opportunities to their members as we do with the Southern New England Golf (SNEWGA) and Connecticut Women’s Golf (CWGA) Associations. We are all driven by the same goal to encourage more junior girls and women in Connecticut to play golf, and will accomplish much more by working together.”
Although LPGA Amateurs conducts championships, including its national championship, with local and regional qualification, it has remained true to its roots: Eliminate the intimidation that women sometimes feel about golf, offer convenient, fun and low-stress opportunities to play, and demonstrate to new golfers all the benefits of a lifetime game.
“It’s still daunting for some women,” said Woolf, who plays in a weekly league at Oak Hills Park in Norwalk. “You have to make a commitment. There’s the kit—the equipment, shoes, clothes—but when you do it, it’s such a great way to build relationships with other people. Our members become really good friends with the people they meet playing golf. They take vacations together. It’s so much a social game. And, hey, golfers are nice.”
Woolf says that she and many other women have also learned that the sport provides an important way to recover from personal setback, be it loss of a job, divorce or health problems. “It helps you recover from things like that,” she says. “And golf certainly teaches resilience.”
For local leaders of the group like Woolf and Central Connecticut President Sara Taylor the partnership with the LPGA has produced, as Woolf puts it, “a rejuvenation at the national level” and great deal more name recognition. It has also helped local chapters with organizational and promotional advice. Local members of the group hope the partnership with the CSGA will only increase the LPGA Amateurs footprint.
Like nearly every other entity in golf these days, one immediate goal, Woolf says, is to increase participation among female millennials, busy businesswomen aged 25-40.
If anyone can do it, this group can.