By Rhonda Glenn, USGA
Reinstated Amateurs Do Well
Reinstated amateurs have won five of the last six Senior Women’s Amateur Championships. Carolyn Creekmore (2004), Diane Lang (2005, 2006, 2008) and Sherry Herman (2009) are all reinstated amateurs. In the 2009 championship, three of the four semifinalists were reinstated amateurs; Herman, Creekmore and Robyn Puckett. Brenda Pictor was the only career amateur to reach the semifinals.
Florida’s Junior Golf
Without much organization, the junior game was an integral part of Florida golf in the 1950s and 1960s. No junior tours. No big entry fees. No swing gurus. Just Florida youngsters playing golf and some of them, such as Gary Koch, “Turned out real well,” as we used to say.
City recreation departments offered free summer clinics for kids. I started the game that way myself. The MAGA (Metropolitan Amateur Golf Association) conducted junior events in the Miami area ram-rodded by Frank Strafaci, a fine player from the Met Golf Association. Strafaci was dedicated to helping the game to grow and had great knowledge.
The Florida State Golf Association and Florida Women’s Golf Association conducted state junior championships. The Florida PGA conducted the PGA Junior, and many towns had a junior event. One of the grandest was the S.W. Florida Junior, here in Fort Myers, where hundreds of youngsters played for big trophies and the winner got a white blazer. (Our Masters!) High school golf was a big deal, with after-school matches in the spring, then conference championships and the state championships. (Our U.S. Open.) The greatest factor was the willingness of so many Florida PGA and LPGA professionals to help sincere kids to learn the swing. They never charged them a dime. In the summer, kids rode their bikes to the golf course with their golf bags slung over their shoulders, and a bag of shag balls dangling from their handlebars. It was an idyllic introduction to golf.
Golf is Like, Well, Nothing Else…
In writing about the game, I’ve often tried to find a comparable sport or activity. Is hitting a golf ball anything like hitting a baseball? After all, famed Major League Baseball batting coach Charlie Lau used the principles of the golf swing in teaching his players to become better hitters; strong left side, the un-cocking of the wrists, etc. (This may explain why many baseball players become really fine golfers.) Or, as I later thought, perhaps golf most resembles ballet, with its discipline of precise positions. And then, there was a famous black-and-white magazine advertisement showing a miner attacking a slab of vertical rock with a pick axe, and everyone thought he looked just like Ben Hogan at impact.
After all of these years of pondering comparisons, I've determined that golf – with its power and finesse, with its exacting positions for which rhythm can remedy almost any error, with its sense of outdoor adventure in which wind and rain and the grain of the grass can so often influence a shot – is unlike anything else on earth. Besides, golf calls for better manners.