TGA Foundation's Winners' Program Celebrates 10th Anniversary
In 2008, the Women’s Texas Golf Association launched the Winners’ Program as part of several new initiatives to reach girls through golf. Now a part of the Texas Golf Association and TGA Foundation’s Women’s Initiatives, the Winners’ Program, celebrates its 10th anniversary. The program serves as an introduction to golf for grade school-aged girls and works as an instrument to encourage them to excel academically, too. Girls are urged to make good grades and turn in report cards throughout the year. The Winners’ Program awards a technology gift, such as iPads, to the elected scholar at each of the six statewide LPGA/USGA Girls Golf sites.
During the past decade, about 1,800 young girls across Texas have been impacted by the Winners’ Program, which also has invested more than $100,000 in the program and worthy recipients. Each year, TGA staff members and volunteers visit sites in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Longview, San Antonio and Waco to interact with young girls. The goal is to inspire them to work hard in school, while at the same time providing hands-on education and instruction to make golf a part of their lives.
“The importance of providing opportunities for the next generation of golfers should be tantamount by all who love this game,” said Marlene Summers, a former WTGA Director from Montgomery who led the program for several years. “The integrity, etiquette, social, physical and mental skills taught in the Winners’ Program are byproducts of the core values learned from the game of golf. I’m not sure of a better way to impact the next generation.”
In addition to encouraging academic competitiveness with prizes for top students, playing golf also is a major component of the Winners’ Program. The Texas Challenge is annual statewide competition between selected chapters of the Winners’ Program sites. The competition honors the late Toni Wiesner by awarding the Toni Wiesner Cup to the Texas Challenge’s winning site. Wiesner, a longtime friend to Women’s Golf in Texas and five-time winner of the WTGA State Amateur, passed away in 2009. One of the state’s best examples of positivity and strong character, Wiesner left behind a legacy of class and competitive spirit.
“Toni was a member of the USGA Junior Golf Committee and loved to give back to the game,” said Katie O’Donnell, the TGA’s Director of Women’s Operations. “She was a mentor and role model for so many women in Texas. She embodied so many of the traits we try to instill in young girls through the Winners’ Program.”
This year, the TGA plans to visit all six Winners’ Program sites. They’ll engage with girls in fun games and golf matches, while at the same time educate them about the golf-and-grades initiatives.
“In 10 years, we've met so many great kids along with dedicated coaches and parents,” said Susan Knox, a TGA Director, Past WTGA President and creator of the Winners’ Program. “I get so excited just thinking about what these girls can accomplish. If we’re encouraging these girls to dream and never give up on that dream, we’re doing our part – not only for golf, but for humanity.”
To learn more about the Winners’ Program and how you can help, click here.