Many of the players who came to the initial Girls to the Tee clinic a decade ago, have grown up and gone off to college.
A handful took golf clubs along.
Some will come back to the game in the years ahead to play with family and friends.
There were nearly 100 girls at Westchester Country Club on Monday for the latest installment of this complimentary initiative, which is underwritten by the Women's Metropolitan Golf Association. It's a gathering that more than anything helps these kids realize there's an entire community of girls who enjoy golf.
It's almost cool to play.
The girls spent three hours working alongside 17 volunteer professionals, who gave up part of a rare day off to grow the game.
Gary Weir, the director of instruction at Westchester and Monique Thoresz, the director of instruction at The Apawamis Club, have been the organizing the instruction for the last 10 years. Weir checked in several times from Scotland, where he is dealing with the recent passing of his mother. Sarah Stone, a teaching professional from Westchester Country Club, filled in.
Thoresz and Stone took part in a short Q & A about Girls to the Tee and the importance of making girls feel comfortable on the course:
lohud: This event is celebrating its 10th anniversary, so how much growth have you seen?
Thoresz: “It’s been amazing. I’m just so thrilled to be a part of it, really. This day is about the girls and seeing so many of them come back year after year to Westchester Country Club, which is so generous with its facilities, is really gratifying.”
lohud: Has it become easier to introduce girls to golf over the years?
Stone: “I think it’s become incredibly easy. You have kids here today from Winged Foot, Leewood, Westchester Country Club, most of the public courses and they are here together, sharing golf clubs with each other. This is huge. It’s a big deal?”
lohud: What’s the one thing you want the girls to come away from this event with?
Thoresz: “Fun. Fun. Fun. Those are my three words of the day. We want the girls to drink in the atmosphere and meet other girls who play golf and know it’s a sport where they’re welcome. And if they learn some mechanics, that’s super, but the fun is the name of the game today.”
lohud: Beginners are often intimidated, but how quickly can the average newcomer expect to get the basics down and get the ball in the air?
Stone: I always joke that if you can’t do it in 15 minutes, you need to find another pro to work with because it’s all about holding the club, hitting the ground and getting the ball in the air. That’s my goal with any new golfer whether they’re 7 or 70, and if we get them to hit that shot in five to seven minutes, they’re hooked for a lifetime.”
lohud: How important has it become to get more girls involved in the game?
Thoresz: “Any club that isn’t looking toward this demographic, girls in particular and young children in general, your club is going to be in trouble. This is where it’s at. We need these girls to love the game of golf and appreciate the game of golf because some of them are going to be members and serve on the board. We need them for the future of the clubs and the future of the game.”
lohud: Are you seeing more families taking up the game and playing together?
Stone: “This is my second season here Westchester and I’ve seen more and more of the moms and kids coming out to hit balls. It becomes a family event and helps drive food and beverage, rounds of golf. It gets people to utilize the club more and that will help keep clubs in business.”