Golf Leaders Prepare for the Future

Photo courtesy the MGA

Golf may have some growth issues nationwide, but the new presidents of the two NY Metro golf organizations, the Metropolitan Golf Association (MGA) and the Women’s Metropolitan Golf Association (WMGA), are both optimistic about the game, especially in Westchester.

As it happens, both presidents live in Rye and know the local golf scene inside and out. Lori Ann Cerullo (above, left), president of the WMGA, took up the game when she worked in sales for IBM. Today, she plays in a public league at Maple Moor and belongs to Rye Golf Club. MGA president Tod Pike (above, right) got his start in the game at Rye and has been a long time member at the Apawamis Club in Rye.

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Girls to the Tee

“The MGA supports the game in a lot of different ways,” Pike explains. “We share best practices between clubs and stage dozens of competitions.” The MGA also runs the handicap system in this area and provides course-rating services. Pike adds, “We are perhaps best known for our many tournaments. The elite golfer gets a chance to play in many of them, but our schedule has a lot of ‘net’ events, as well, so the average golfer who wants to compete using their handicap can test themselves in a lot of different formats.”Cerullo explains that the WMGA’s mission is to foster women’s and girls’ golf. In addition to a healthy schedule of tournaments and team matches, the organization stages introductory events, like Girls to the Tee, held at three metro locations, including Westchester Country Club.

Both presidents are focused on the future of the game. “Women have jobs and kids. How do we get golf on their to-do list? How do we make it easy and fun?” Cerullo asks. “We are exploring different venues and formats and competitions. There are some women who are real competitors and others who aren’t so much, but they all get into the camaraderie of the game.” The WMGA has also opened its doors to independent members who may not belong to a club. Through its foundation, the group also provides “fellowships” for junior golfers to enable them to play in events they might not otherwise be able to afford.“We need to ask ourselves whether we’re providing avenues into the game like previous generations had,” Pike observes. “We provide greater access to the game through our Play Days, which open a number of courses to the public that may not have a lot of different places to play.” The MGA has also initiated league play at some daily fee courses, conducts caddie training workshops to bring young people into the game, and supports youth clinics in conjunction with the First Tee.

Free golf clinics for girls ages 6 to 18 are provided through the WMGA Foundation at locations throughout the metro area. Dozens of PGA golf professionals host the events and provide an introduction to the game and skills instruction to girls of all skill levels.

“We want to expand Girls to the Tee,” says WMGA President Lori Ann Cerullo. “The girls are so enthusiastic and most of them come with a friend.” The WMGA plans to schedule this year’s clinics so that girls can attend either their local event or all three in a series.

Girls to the Tee is scheduled for Westchester Country Club on August 5.

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25 Years of Golfworks

The MGA Foundation’s Golfworks program celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The program provides meaningful employment to young people in the golf industry in an environment friendly to underprivileged and minority youth. Youngsters work in all facets of golf and country club operations.

“It is the premier program funded by the MGA Foundation for junior golfers and young people in the area,” says MGA President Tod Pike. “We had more than 300 participants last year and expect to increase it this year. It is another way to introduce young people to the game. They work at a club and become familiar with golf.”

Last year, 22 Westchester clubs employed 28 young people through Golfworks.

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