Message at CGA Women’s Annual Meeting: ‘We’re just better together’ as one golf association serving both men and women; Auction raises over $15K for junior golf
by Gary Baines
The transition from what was long known as the CWGA Annual Meeting to what is now named the CGA Women’s Annual Meeting appeared seamless on Saturday at the Hilton Denver Inverness.
To be sure, there were some questions from attendees about how specific things will work now that the CGA and CWGA are one unified organization.
But, generally speaking, longtime CGA executive director Ed Mate seemed to sum up the mood of the day when he noted, “We’re just better together. It’s that simple.”
Saturday’s Women’s Annual Meeting featured many of the mainstays from years past — there were golf worshops, a silent auction to benefit the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado, awards presentations, brunch and plenty of socializing among the 175 attendees, which represented about 90 clubs from around the state.
But the one thing that veered from the normal was a panel discussion featuring CGA co-presidents Juliet Miner and Joe McCleary, with Mate asking questions. (Pictured above are, from left, McCleary, Mate and Miner.) One of those queries was about the integration of the CGA and the CWGA, which became official as of Jan. 1. It’s part of a nationwide effort by the USGA to streamline its relationship with state and regional golf associations by partnering with just one full-service Allied Golf Association in each state or region.
Subsequently, the board of directors of the two associations have formed into one leadership team — in fact it held a quarterly meeting just after the Women’s Annual Meeting. McCleary, the CGA president for the past two years, and Miner, who served as the CWGA president for a similar time, are co-presidents of the CGA for 2018. And the staff of the associations have also merged, based out of the current CGA offices in Greenwood Village.
“We love to do course rating, we love to run tournaments, we love to run USGA qualifiers, we love to work with (members),” Miner told the audience at the Women’s Annual Meeting. “It was only obvious to our membership that this (unification) was a good thing because now we’re bigger, better, stronger, richer — and we have lots of staff. If you talk to our staff, each and every one of them loves the synergy of being in that office together. … This is not just to make the best of something that the USGA decided was a good idea for golf, but to make it the best for golf in Colorado, and to be a beacon for golf in the United States of America.”
McCleary feels similary after going through a unification process that lasted more than two years.
“From the beginning I said, ‘Let’s do what’s best for golf and golfers in the state of Colorado,” he told the attendees. “We needed to come together as one organization representing both men and women (in order) to lay the groundwork for the future. Things are changing. It’s incredibly important to do what we’ve done. I think it’s paid dividends and it will pay significant dividends in the future.”
Laura Robinson, former CWGA executive director and current managing director of membership and integration for the CGA, organized Saturday’s meeting and liked the way the panel discussion went.
“I hope the women here who heard Joe, Juliet and Ed talk gained a sense of confidence that this (integration) is really good for women’s golf,” Robinson said.
One way that the inification paid off tangibly was evident on Saturday. Last year, the silent auction at the CWGA Annual Meeting raised slightly under $7,000 for junior golf. This year, more than double that total — $15,365 to be exact — was raised for the cause (left). With increased resources being brought to bear with the merged organizations, close to 100 items were available for auction, and a nearly two-week-long online element was added this year, yielding $7,570 of the $15,365 total.
All in all, Miner saw this year’s Annual Meeting as a valuable tool in more ways than one.
“I think the meeting went as successfully as it has been for the last number of years,” she said. “The difference is that we had all of the (pre-existing) CGA board here, which is comprised of mostly men. They’re all here and they’re seeing what we do. They get to see our product — which before they’d only heard about — up close.”
Saddle Rock WGA Named Women’s Club of the Year: For the second straight year, a Women’s Club of the Year was recognized at the Annual Meeting, and this year the honor went to members of the Saddle Rock Women’s Golf Association (left).
The award is presented to a club that has demonstrated a commitment to golf or their community through innovative programs such as fundraising, programs or competitions.
Saddle Rock WGA stood out in part thanks to a tweak of the traditional member-guest tournament format that led to additional fundraising for a good cause. The club played a “Cha-Cha-Cha for Charity” and members were able to invite multiple guests, which increased participation significantly. That resulted in a donation of more than $1,100 to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Additionally, to support the teaching and development of junior golf programs in the community, money was raised for the Paul McMullen Scholarship Fund. Also, Saddle Rock has long provided volunteers for the annual Grandview High School girls golf invitational, running shuttles, registration, check-in and scoring.
The Saddle Rock WGA has celebrated 20 years as an association, with 10 of its original members still actively participating in league play.
Other nominees for the Women’s Club of the Year were:
— Aurora Hills 9-Hole Women’s Golf Association
— Kissing Camels Ladies Golf Association
— Pinery Ladies Golf Association
— Red Sky Ranch
— Riverdale Women’s Golf Association
Last year’s co-Clubs of the Year were from Patty Jewett and Fitzsimons.
Miner Honored as Volunteer of the Year: Juliet Miner has overseen much in her two years as president of the CWGA and now as co-president of the CGA. There was the hiring of a new CWGA executive director. There was the CWGA celebrating the centennial of its founding. There was the CWGA joining forces with the CGA in establishing a single USGA-affiliated golf association in Colorado.
On Saturday, for all Miner has done for the CWGA, she was named the Volunteer of the Year. (She’s pictured speaking to attendees.)
(FYI: A feature story on Miner and her accomplishments will be published later this month on the coloradogolf.org and coloradowomensgolf.org websites.)
Players of the Year for 2017: The CWGA Players of the Year — and the winner of a related award — were announced last fall, but the three honorees were publicly recognized on Saturday.
Jennifer Kupcho of Westminster, the CWGA’s Player of the Year the previous three seasons, was given the President’s Award, the CWGA’s highest honor. Mary Weinsten of Highlands Ranch earned the Player of the Year honor. And Colorado Golf Hall of Famer Kim Eaton won the Senior Player of the Year Award for the eighth time in nine years. Eaton, now an Arizona resident, was likewise named the Arizona Women’s Golf Association Senior POY in 2017, earning that honor for the sixth time.
Kupcho and Weinstein are in the midst of their college seasons — Kupcho at Wake Forest and Weinstein at the University of Denver — and were unable to attend Saturday’s festivities. But Eaton (left) traveled from Arizona for the event.
For information on the 2017 accomplishments of the three players, CLICK HERE.
In Short: A $7,000 check — from money raised at the 2017 CWGA Annual Meeting, was presented Saturday to Colorado Golf Hall of Famer Alan Abrams, president of the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado. … Besides CGA co-presidents Juliet Miner and Joe McCleary and executive director Ed Mate, among those in attendance Saturday were the CGA volunteer board of directors, Colorado PGA executive director Eddie Ainsworth and Colorado Golf Hall of Fame president Scott Radcliffe and executive director Jennifer Lyons. The CWGA is receiving a Distinguished Service Award from the Golf Hall of Fame in May. … Among the announcements to attendees on Saturday was a reminder that the Girls Junior America’s Cup, a tournament featuring many of the top female junior golfers from the western U.S., along with Canada and Mexico, will be played in Colorado for the first time in 18 years. The event is set for July 25-27 at Hiwan Golf Club in Evergreen. … Recognized Saturday for its fundraising was the Raccoon Creek Ladies 9-Hole Group, whose 2017 tournament to benefit the Evans Scholarship for caddies led to a $1,200 donation. … Among the former CWGA board members — and current CGA board members — who have accepted chairperson duties for CGA committees are Laurie Steenrod (Course Rating Committee) and Phyllis Jensen (Tournament Site Selection Committee). … Miner said CGA Women’s Annual Meetings will continue into the future “as long as you (attendees) keep coming.”