Sold-out event at Overland marks the first of a record six CWGA Golf Experiences planned for 2017
by Gary Baines
Mother’s Day isn’t until Sunday, but mother and daughter Honey Goldberg and Dianna May decided to make a weekend of it.
A while back, Goldberg received an email from the CWGA noting that CWGA Golf Experience events — which mix group golf instruction from PGA and LPGA professionals, social interaction, lunch, door prizes, etc., into a 4 1/2-hour outing at a golf course — were on tap in the spring and summer.
Goldberg mentioned to her daughter that it would be fun to go together, so here they were on Saturday — the day before Mother’s Day — spending some quality time at the Golf Experience on a beatiful day at Overland Park Golf Course in Denver.
“When I (first heard about the event), I thought, ‘This sounds really cool,'” Goldberg said.
“I’ve been looking forward to it,” said May. “It’s great. We rarely get to spend this much concentrated time together.”
Added Goldberg: “It was awesome. We both like to play golf (and) we both need help” with our games.
Goldberg and May were two of about 75 women who participated in the first of six Golf Experiences that the CWGA will host in 2017. The one at Overland Park has been sold out for about a month, but there are other Experiences May 20 at Pelican Lakes in Windsor, June 3 at Tiara Rado in Grand Junction, July 8 at (Denver) City Park, July 16 at Harvard Gulch and Aug. 6 at Fossil Trace.
The CWGA has held Experience events since 2010, but this year there’s a noticeable uptick in the program. The six Experiences planned for 2017 are the most ever, it’s been several years since one has been held on the Western Slope, and never before has there been a play day associated with the Experience like the one planned for the par-3 Harvard Gulch facility on July 16.
“I’m hoping in some way that this is helping appeal to (a certain group of women) and giving them more confidence to go out and play in a nine-hole league or to play with their husband,” said Sandy Schnitzer, chair of the CWGA Rules Committee, who on Saturday was helping provide a basic overview of the Rules of Golf and etiquette. “It’s hard to know what’s causing the increase (in demand for these events). I hope there’s a ladies’ sense of, ‘I can do this. It’s not intimidating. I have a place on the golf course.’
“I think part of it is meeting other women — that whole networking and camaraderie and friendships that you develop. For me, that’s a big part. The other part is getting some one-on-one time with a pro at a phenomenal price. You’re spending the whole (three-plus hours) getting instruction from really good people that really know what they’re doing. I think that’s invaluable.”
Experience attendees spend about 45 minutes at each of four stations, rotating among full swing, chipping, putting and the Rules overview/etiquette, before wrapping up the day with lunch. Most of the golf instructors on Saturday were from City of Denver Golf, which co-hosted Saturday’s Experience. Overall, the PGA and LPGA professionals on hand included City of Denver director of golf Scott Rethlake, along with Kirk Mease, Andrea Nemier, Devon Puleo, Geoff Strasser, Becky Clark, Nick Johnson, Chris Hamilton, Joe Pinson, Kyle McGee and Kristin Moreland.
“The instructors were terrific and they work well together,” said Goldberg, who was attending her second Experience.
As for the 75 or so participants, they ran the gamut from young women to the more elderly, from beginners to tournament players, and from being existing CWGA members to the newly added.
Events like the CWGA Experience have become more and more a priority for CWGA leadership.
“It’s to grow the game of golf,” said Schnitzer, who serves on the CWGA Board of Directors and was attending her fourth Experience on Saturday. “Not every woman out here is a brand-new golfer. There are some women out here who have a lot of tournament experience. They also get some good instruction — some fine-tuning, which is what they need — so I think it fills the needs of women at a lot of different levels. (The Experience) is non-threatening, a great opportunity, and you can come with all your friends so you don’t have to be here by yourself. I think it gets everybody off on a good start.”
As a first-timer to the CWGA Experience, May certainly sees the value, both in the obvious sense and in the big picture.
“I just have such a steep learning curve” as a person who plays little, she said. “I improved my grip, my swing on the driving range, I learned a lot about the importance of distance on the putting green. And chipping is really challenging. But I picked up stuff at every station.
“I’m pretty new to it. My husband is an avid golfer, my kids are better than I am. But obviously it’s a great activity. My father-in-law worked six days a week, so his important family time with his sons was on the golf course. That’s what we’re trying to create with our boys is family time, away from screens, outside, where you can just talk and be together.”
For more information about the CWGA Golf Experience, CLICK HERE.