The IX: Golf Thursday with Sarah Kellam, April 15, 2021
The National Women’s Collegiate Championship — Interview with Steve Eubanks — Must-click women's golf links
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The Women In Golf Foundation and National Women’s Collegiate Championship
It’s April. And for college golf, April is everything.
During this time of year when all focus is on conference championships and NCAAs, it can be easy to forget the point of collegiate athletics. For many student-athletes, professionalism in a sport would be a dream career path, but the end goal of most college athletic departments is for their wards to emerge into society as well-rounded individuals, ready to take on life’s challenges with skills refined through participation in the university’s athletic programs, rings and records be damned.
Many organizers of college golf’s biggest events may sometimes lose sight of that goal, but there’s one organization with a tournament experience that, yes, provides women’s college golfers a place to play, but also takes the time to foster it’s participants’ futures while they are competing. That group is the Women In Golf Foundation.
A few months ago, I had the pleasure and the privilege of interviewing Oneda Castillo, Director of Golf for the WIGF, and among other topics, we discussed an event that the organization single-handedly puts on every year for women’s golf programs of historically black colleges and universities across the country, the National Women’s Collegiate Championship.
The invitational tournament is a three-day affair. The first day gives players the opportunity to tee it up with business professionals, helping them to network with people that could potentially influence their future careers. There are also seminars over the course of the event for the participants to attend featuring individuals who have had success within their respective businesses and careers.
The second and third days are more of your standard collegiate tournament format featuring 36 holes of stroke play competition taking place to decide medalist honors and team honors with the winners taking home the Renee Powell Cup. Additionally, this year, the tournament committee will also select one player to receive an exemption into the Symetra Tour’s Symetra Classic to be held at River Run Country Club in North Carolina. The event usually is held in April and the 2021 edition just wrapped up yesterday.
It’s an incredible championship for a myriad of reasons — first and foremost its support of HBCUs. Unfortunately, this faction of college golf isn’t always paid the same attention as its Power 5 counterparts and it’s rare to see an event like the National Women’s Collegiate Championship exist exclusively for these institutions. Fortunately, however, the WIGF’s willingness to step up to the plate and create this tournament has provided both opportunity and exposure for women’s golf programs at schools that may not otherwise have had either.
Furthermore, while this competition provides young women a place to play, it’s also simultaneously giving them the chance to develop themselves professionally which is an invaluable experience for a student-athlete that may or may not have the time to network via internships or part-time jobs.
Playing college golf at any level leaves you very little time to do much else besides study and practice. So being able to take the time over the course of a golf tournament that you’re required to be at by your university to connect with potential employers is truly priceless when it comes to pursuing a career after graduation. No other event that I have ever heard of gives this opportunity to its participant and I have no doubt that those who compete in this tournament get the most out of that first day.
Finally, the National Women’s Collegiate Championship is so important because its encouraging diversity within golf. We hear so much about how we need more people of color to get involved and that golf needs to become more inclusive, but how much is actually being done to foster the success of BIPOCs within the game?
We talked last week about the magic that can happen when women support women by stepping up and doing the work.
Well, the Women In Golf Foundation is definitely doing the work with the National Women’s Collegiate Championship. They are bolstering an entire generation of young women, setting them up for successful futures through a three day golf competition and by just giving them a chance to show off their talent. They deserve our support and recognition.
Because they aren’t just putting on a women’s college golf tournament. They’re changing golf. They’re changing lives.
For more on how to support the Women in Golf Foundation and the National Women’s Collegiate Championship, please visit https://womeningolffoundation.org/!
This week in women’s golf
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Juli Inkster signed up for a qualifier for the U.S. Women’s Open. (via Golfweek.com)
At 60, Juli Inkster is trying her hand at qualifying for the USWO. (via GolfDigest.com)
A tie dye LPGA hoodie being worn by members of the Golden State Warriors and designed by Michelle Wie West has already sold out. But don’t worry, more are coming and the proceeds are going to women’s golf. (via Golfweek.com)
The hoodie in this week’s “Tweet of the Week” was being worn by NBA players on Wednesday. Turns out, it was designed by Michelle Wie West and is taking golf social media by storm. (via GolfDigest.com)
It’s the LOTTE Championship this week for the LPGA Tour which marks the start of some serious competition to compete in the Olympics and on the Solheim Cup teams. (via LPGA.com)
Nasa Hataoka is poised for even more success on the LPGA Tour and is looking forward to the Olympics returning to her home country of Japan. (via LPGA.com)
Danielle Kang admits that she gets anxious on the course and says that she’s working on those feelings even though they haven’t effected her performance much. (via GolfChannel.com)
Inbee Park has played in every LOTTE Championship since the tournament’s creation so it’s safe to say she’s happy to be back in Hawaii. (via LPGA.com)
Brooke Henderson will be the first player to 3-peat at an event since Inbee Park won 3 KPMG Women’s PGA Championships from 2013 to 2015 if she successfully defends her title at the LOTTE. (via LPGA.com)
Here’s how and where to watch the 2021 LOTTE Championship. (via LPGA.com)
Check out this Instagram Live with Jennifer Chang. (via LPGA.com)
Sandra Gal has decided to extend her medical leave. (via LPGA.com)
Lisa Cornwell will be inducted into the Arkansas Sports HOF on Friday night. (via NWAOnline.com)
Check out this interview with Debbie Blount, a 62 year old playing college golf at Reinhardt University. (via GolfChannel.com)
Here are some of the top stories for the Casino del Sol Golf Classic on the Symetra Tour this week. (via SymetraTour.com)
Natalie Sheary is happy to be back on the Symetra Tour after dealing with injury last season. (via SymetraTour.com)
The featured groups at the Casino del Sol Golf Classic. (via SymetraTour.com)
Here’s a preview of the Copper Rock Championship that’s upcoming for the Symetra Tour. (via SymetraTour.com)
Meet LET player Alison Muirhead. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
Manon Gidali earned her first Sunshine Tour win at the Cape Town Ladies Open. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
English golfer Hannah Burke has been selected to be a part of the 2021 Unlocked program. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
Meet 17 year old LET competitor Pia Babnik. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
LET member Christine Wolf is planning to have a big season in 2021. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
Get to know Leonie Harm. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
Here’s what you need to know about Nigerian golfer Georgia Oboh. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
Here’s a look back at the 2016 Olympic games in Rio. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
Ellie Slama of Oregon State is Golfweek’s women’s college golfer of the week. (via Golfweek.com)
LSU is Golfweek’s women’s college golf team of the week. (via Golfweek.com)
South Carolina leads the DI WGCA Coaches poll. (via Golfweek.com)
Dallas Baptist is still leading the DII WGCA Coaches poll. (via Golfweek.com)
For the DIII teams, Redlands is still on top after the WGCA Coaches poll. (via Golfweek.com)
Keiser is still leading the NAIA WGCA Coaches poll. (via Golfweek.com)
Donna White received the LPGA Professionals President’s Award for her willingness to help out with the moving of teacher certification for the LPGA to an online format. (via LPGAWomensNetwork.com)
Tweet of the Week
Five at The IX: Steve Eubanks, Managing Editor for the LPGA Tour
How did you begin writing about women’s golf and why did you shift from covering the men’s game to the women’s game?
I’ve always had an interest in women’s golf, going back to the days of Nancy Lopez, Beth Daniel, and Betsy King. But I also search for great stories, not about on-course performance, but about the dedication and sacrifices that athletes endure to become the best at their craft. Women’s golf has a wealth of those stories. And the athletes are eager to share them.
What has been the most rewarding story you’ve ever written? Most challenging?
The most rewarding thing I’ve ever written is a book called All American. It’s about two men who played against each other in the 2001 Army-Navy Game, which was held two months after 9/11. They had entered the service academies during peacetime, primarily to play football. That day, they knew they were on their way to war. I then followed their military careers for a decade. It was as humbling and inspiring an experience as I will ever have in our profession.
The most challenging stories always deal with tragedy. Last year I wrote a piece about a college golfer named Kennedy Carroll who lost her mother to alcohol abuse. That one was tough. Kids are always the victims of substance abuse in a family. Kennedy’s strength is inspiring but her story is no less heartbreaking.
As a writer, how do you build a relationship with a player both on and off the golf course? What is the key to balancing your role covering the women’s game as a journalist and those relationships with those that you write about?
That one is easy: Trust. Players know that I’m not out to make a name for myself by finding, or inventing, something salacious. This is golf, after all. We’re not invading Normandy here. I find the most inspiring stories I can and tell those.
Why do you think there are so many discrepancies between men’s and women’s golf coverage? Is that gap closing? How so?
I do think that gap is closing. If you look at content analysis, a scientific method of measuring the coverage something receives – column inches, television time, impressions, that sort of thing – you see an increase in women’s golf numbers across the board.
In the past, the gap has always been a function of manpower and attention. If a publication has one golf writer, is he (and, unfortunately, it has been almost always a “he”) sent by an editor to the RBC Heritage on Hilton Head in South Carolina or to the LOTTE Championship on Oahu in Hawaii. The writer wants to go to Oahu, for obvious reasons. His bosses have other ideas.
New media is changing that dynamic. News outlets are no longer limited by column inches, but they also have fewer resources. The Dallas Morning News used to send five writers to the Masters. The year Jordan Spieth, a Dallas native, won, they had zero in Augusta. So, women’s golf wins by having more accommodating athletes – our players are the best in sports on that front – and by helping journalists find the most compelling stories.
So far in 2021, there have been many great stories coming from the LPGA Tour. What has been your favorite one and what are you most looking forward to as the season rolls on? Anything that women’s golf fans should specifically be keeping their eye on?
It’s hard to pick one in 2021. I believe the Kordas might be the best story in all of sports. Can anyone name a family where mother, father, two sisters, and a brother are all top-level professional athletes, ranked in the top-20 in the world in their respective sports? The Mannings were pretty good but Olivia and their oldest son Cooper never turned pro in anything. The Kordas are batting 1000. I’ve been in sports a long time and have never seen anything like them.