Winners' Program Success Story: Elise Pope
Elise Pope was introduced to golf when she was 13. She never thought her love for the game would grow so quickly. Like most juniors, Pope dreams to carry out the good of the game, but few know that she’s also a young athlete with a big heart.
Ambitious only begins to describe Pope’s aspirations. She hopes to one day design and own a golf course or become a director of golf at a club.
“I really want to focus on junior golf,” she said. “I’d like to teach those who might have a mental, learning or physical handicap and really work with those students of all ages, but then also all juniors.”
Elise joined the LPGA/USGA Girls’ Golf Program for three years before she headed to Mississippi State University. Her time and involvement with the program helped her realize her heart belonged on the golf course teaching and helping juniors of all ages come together to play a sport they can carry on for a lifetime.
Pope knew there was nothing she could love more than golf, knowing there was room for improvement. Her desire to one day make an impact on the industry led her to apply to Mississippi State’s Professional Golf Management Program.
With the help of the WTGA’s Winners’ Program scholarship, Elise was beyond grateful that her dream came true. She reminds herself constantly how fortunate she is to have the opportunity to expand her knowledge and receive the type of education to one day impact other junior girls.
The former 2011-12 Texas Challenge participant continues to play in college, even if her playing performance determines her graduation. The playing requirements and tournaments that are a part of her curriculum allow her to better her game through a handful of tournaments each semester, working with program staff, games and drills. One of the bigger challenges she faces in her studies is the Playing Ability Test, a one-day event of 36 holes, in which each player must make a specific score to pass. Every student in the PGM Program must pass the PAT by graduation.
In her third year of college now, Elise expects to graduate in December 2017.This summer will put her skills to the test as she relocates to Birmingham, Ala., for an eight-month internship at Highland Park Golf Course. She’ll take on responsibility for all aspects of the golf operations at the facility as well as helping out with the PGA’s HOPE Program and working with wounded warriors and veterans.
“I’m really excited to go out there and take a little break from school and try something new,” Pope said.
She has dreams of designing a golf course in the South, possibly in rural Mississippi, “just wherever that is needed and wherever I can grow and learn,” said Elise.
She hopes to create a welcoming place where families and kids can have fun and enjoy the sport. Thanks to all the support from friends, family, the Winners’ Program and its scholarship, Elise’s dream of having her career and living her life on the golf course is possible.
About the Alliance Cup
The Alliance Campaign and its annual fundraiser, the Alliance Cup Tournament, were initiated in 2007 to find new ways to use the game of golf to enrich the lives of young girls. Junior Golf initiatives for girls and WTGA Scholarships are totally funded by and dependent upon the Alliance Campaign and Alliance Cup.
The WTGA created the Winners’ Program in 2008. The program’s initiatives promote golf and grades and support LPGA / USGA Girls Golf sites through grant funding for program expenses, and benefits provided directly to participants.
The Alliance Campaign also honors the late Toni Wiesner through the Wiesner’s Winners' Program and Toni Wiesner Cup. These programs, conducted in conjunction with the Winners’ Program, recognize the outstanding players in the LPGA / USGA Girls Golf sites by awarding competitive prizes at each site and the Toni Wiesner Cup to the winning team at the annual Texas Challenge.
The WTGA also funds significant college scholarships, and has assisted in sending young women to Texas A&M, University of Texas, Texas Tech, Wake Forest, and several other universities. Future plans for the scholarship program call for a significant increase in the amount and impact of these awards and working toward fully funding the college education of the successful candidate.
Since 2007, more than $150,000 has been directed to these programs that enrich the lives of the participants and the donors who make them possible. The young women who benefit from these initiatives will impact the next generation, and continue to change the world with golf.