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Inaugural Honorees

CWGA's Clubs of the Year at Patty Jewett, Fitzsimons make a difference in their communities

by Gary Baines - 3/20/2017

At the CWGA Annual Meeting held earlier this month, attendees received a packet which included a "Benefits of Golf Card" from

Among the benefits noted was charity. The card said that "golf raises more money for charity than all other sports combined. Annually, the game generates $3.9 billion for philanthropic causes, almost all of which are unrelated to the golf industry."

When the CWGA recently created a new award, honoring a Club of the Year, the foundation for such charitable giving became apparent. Among the first-year finalists for the award, almost $70,000 was raised for such good causes.

As CWGA executive director Laura Robinson noted at the Annual Meeting: "I think what you heard today through our Club of the Year awards and our fundraising efforts is that a lot of women's organizations are very good at giving back. I think what you saw here was reaffirming that it really is about helping others through what we do.

"We tried to tally how much our clubs raised for charity this year through grassroots events and we think it's well over $100,000, not including what we do in the office."

There's more to the CWGA Club of the Year honor than raising money for charity, but that's no small part of it. The award goes to a club that has demonstrated commitment to golf or their community through innovative programs such as fundraising, programs or competitions.

The finalists for the inaugural award spanned the state, coming from Delta in far western Colorado, Pueblo West and Colorado Springs in the southern part of the state, and Brighton and Aurora in the northeastern quadrant of Colorado.

Co-winners were announced for the honor, based on their efforts in 2016: the Fitzsimons Women's Golf Association and the Patty Jewett Women's Golf Club.

Presidents of both clubs were ecstatic to earn the award in its inaugural year.

"I am totally psyched that we got it," said Tracey Hess, who recently became president of the Patty Jewett Women's Club, succeeding Judy Barnett, who held the position during 2016. "To have played the first CWGA event (the Match Play at what was then known as Colorado Springs Golf Club) here 100 years ago and to be able to play the CWGA Senior Stroke Play here during the centennial year last year ... And we live in the centennial state of Colorado. Are you kidding me? It was in the numbers."

Said Liz Sanchez, president of the Fitzsimons Women's Golf Association for the last four years: "I am honored for all the ladies who have been members since the late '60s. It's been a neat experience for me because I've gotten to know a lot of the ladies who have been members when it was a military course, then quasi-semi-private, then public."

Here's a look at each of the winning clubs, followed by the accomplishments of the other finalists:

-- Patty Jewett Women's Golf Club: Colorado Springs-based Patty Jewett, of course, is one of the oldest golf courses in Colorado, at nearly 120 years old. And, as noted earlier, it hosted the first CWGA championship, in September 1916, with Mrs. M.A. McLaughlin claiming the title in the match play event.

Nowadays, the 18-hole club typically has close to 100 members, with the 9-hole club being almost equally as popular.

In 2016, the award-winning 18-hole club hosted two events that raised a total of almost $10,800 for charity. A benefit tournament in July resulted in a $9,000 contribution to the Women's Resource Agency, which "teaches, empowers and advocates for women and girls to attain and maintain personal self-sufficiency and economic independence." Then through a holiday party in December, $1,792 was raised for Urban Peak, which helps homeless youth. The Patty Jewett club typically rotates beneficiaries that benefit women and children.

"We have a charity committee that diligently selects who we're going to benefit for the tournament," noted Hess, who said the 2017 shamble event on July 6 will assist Colorado Springs Food Rescue. "Ladies come from clubs from across the state to participate."

The July tournament has raised roughly $23,000 for its charitable causes over the past three years combined.

In addition, some members of the Patty Jewett WGC volunteer their time to Special Olympics -- often via golf-related activities. And some help clean up the course periodically and volunteer at CWGA championships.

"We have ladies involved in all kinds of things -- just tons of stuff going on," Hess said.

"When we get together to have fun, we do it with a generous spirit," Hess noted in the club's nomination for the CWGA award. "We seek to promote women and children and the game of golf. We honor the centennial spirit and hope to continue to do so for the next 100 years."

The Club of the Year award marks the second CWGA honor Patty Jewett has earned in the last six months. In October, the course won the CWGA Club Team Championship, earning the title by nine strokes. Patty Jewett's team members were Louise Lyle, Hilary Dussing, Lita Van Cleave and Beth Lindquist.

-- Fitzsimons Women's Golf Association: As Sanchez noted above, "Fitz" has a unique history. From 1918 to '99 it was a military facility based around the Fitzsimons Army Medical Center, with a military course also on the base. When the base was decomissioned, the course became a public facility -- part of the City of Aurora Golf Division.

The Fitzsimons WGA reflects the course's history as several members date back to the club's military days in the 20th century. And the WGA honors that past by regularly recognizing its "80's Ladies" -- a takeoff on the 1987 K.T. Oslin country song.

"It's a reflection on where these ladies started in the '50s and '60s and all the things they've gone through in the period of feminism and Title IX, where people recognized that women had a voice. So we recognized all the ladies that reminded us (of that). I thought, 'these ladies have done so much in their lives.'"

Among Fitzsimons' 80's Ladies is retired Colonel Vera Shoemaker, a longtime FWGA and CWGA member who was a nurse/anesthetist once assigned to 24/7 care of President Dwight Eisenhower while he received treatment at Fitz following a heart attack in the mid-1950s. "She told me about those days and how nerve-wracking it was, and how it was being alongside Mamie Eisenhower (the President's wife) during the time he was there at Fitzsimons," Sanchez said.

To this day, at the golf course there's a memorial wall which features a plaque on each brick memorializing a Veteran or a member of a Vet's family who was at one time part of the men's or women's league at Fitz.

The Fitzsimons WGA once included 75-110 members, but it dropped to a low of 15 after transitioning from military to public course. Worse yet, the WGA lost all of its historical trophies and plaques during the decommissioning process. Even now, Fitz doesn't have a lot of WGA members -- they currently number 22 -- but per capita, they've made a considerable impact.

For instance, through a couple of golf tournaments (photo above), a total of $22,000 was raised in 2016 for Colorado Alzheimer's Association Chapters and Komen Colorado, which helps fund research to prevent and cure breast cancer.

Sanchez, who served 21 years in the Navy, helped those efforts considerably given that her work at USA Security Net includes cultivating donations through grants, angel investors, etc.

"What I've been trying to do is resurrect what was there (at Fitzsimons), trying to give our older members an opportunity to kind of reminisce and recall how they used to be," Sanchez said. "They used to do fundraisers all the time out at the base, and they raised a lot of money."

Looking ahead to 2017 in that regard, the Fitzsimons WGA is teaming up with their counterparts from Heather Gardens, Meadow Hills and Heather Ridge to host a nine-hole shotgun event on June 26 at Heather Ridge that will benefit The First Tee of Denver.

Sanchez got the idea for the event after hearing Colorado Golf Hall of Fame executive director Sammie Chergo speak at this month's CWGA Annual Meeting.

"She inspired me when she talked about networking (saying) 'how many in this room network through golf?'" Sanchez said. "Not a hand went up. Part of (the money raised at Fitzsimons in 2016) was due to networking. So when no one raised their hand in that room, I thought, 'My goodness, can you imagine how much we could do if we could work together?'

"So I'm combining two of Sammie's things: networking and the future (of golf in the form of The First Tee). I'm psyched, and I have to thank Sammie."

Besides philanthropy, Fitz WGA makes it a point to recruit new members on an ongoing basis. WGA vice president Shirley Lovato, the longtime rules and handicap chair who works part-time at the course, offers rules and handicap clinics throughout the season.

"Shirley is good about getting gals to come play with us," Sanchez said. "We have an open invitation to our league day. Anytime we're out there you're welcome to come. It's amazing how she's able to get those ladies to join us."

Overall, the Fitzsimons WGA awards application noted, "We have a heritage here at Fitzsimons that speaks volumes about our ability to cope -- the immense pride we feel for those who have served, our determination to support our sport and one another."

Here's a look at the other finalists for the CWGA Club of the Year honor:

-- Desert Hawk at Pueblo West 9-Hole Ladies Club: Last September, the ladies club organized and ran a Rally for the Cure Tournament that was a big-time winner for Komen Colorado, which helps fund research to prevent and cure breast cancer. A total of 144 women participated in the tournament, and the Desert Hawk 9-Hole Ladies Club made $28,330 in donations to the charity thanks to the event.

-- Devil's Thumb Ladies Golf Club in Delta: Self-described as a "small but mighty club", Devil's Thumb LGC supports the public course, both financially and otherwise.

For the past 16 years, the ladies club has hosted the Devil's Thumb Classic 2-Lady Best Ball on the first weekend of August, drawing players from all over Colorado and parts of New Mexico. The ladies club also hosted a "new lady golfer" event to help draw more women into the game.

Devil's Thumb LGC features a membership of 25-30, with 10-12 competing in women's tournaments -- including CWGA events -- in southern and western Colorado and western New Mexico.

Last fall, the ladies club lent a hand as Devil's Thumb hosted a boys high school regional state-qualifying tournament.

-- Riverdale Women's Golf Association in Brighton: The Riverdale WGA, which features about 80 members, hosted the RWGA Rally for the Cure Tournament, which raised $7,000 for Komen Colorado, a charity that helps fund research to prevent and cure breast cancer. A total of 142 golfers participated in the tournament in 2016. A memorial quilt and ribbons honored those with breast cancer.

League members benefit from periodic free golf instruction provided by Riverdale golf professionals.

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