Women’s Golf League Celebrates 65 Years at Sprain Lake

Jubilee honors the first women’s golf club on Westchester’s public courses. The club was founded in 1959 and currently has 37 members.

The pioneering women of the Sprain Lake Women’s Golf League were honored during the group’s 65th jubilee celebration at the club. Westchester County Parks Commissioner Kathy O’Connor was on hand to congratulate the group and pointed out that the organization is the oldest women’s golf club at any of the public courses in Westchester County.

The event featured a morning golf tournament followed by a luncheon attended by 50 members past and present, including many who traveled from as far as Florida. Rich Belize, Westchester County Director of Golf, and Tom Avezzano, head professional at the course, also participated, and County Executive George Latimer sent a proclamation and plaque honoring the club.

Golf
Left to right: Meg McGarrity, Lorraine Krsulich, Anita Pellegrino, Jeanette Attina

“The love, camaraderie, and heart-felt joy of the former and current members were palpable” at the event, says club president Regina De Natale. “Seeing people we have not seen in many years while others traveled many miles to attend was overwhelming. Women who could not attend sent poems and letters with poignant and heartfelt messages. In our joined memories, this event was the most momentous occasion hosted by the Club.” The jubilee was organized by club members Judi Forrest, Susan Williams, and Carlene Fallacaro.

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The 30 original members of the Women’s Golf League were true pioneers of the game. When the club was founded in 1959, men dominated the tee sheets as well as the decision-making about course construction and operations. It was a time when women weren’t allowed to play weekend mornings at most clubs, public and private, and could be sure of tee times at best once per week on “Ladies’ Day.” Today, the club has 37 members who play every Tuesday morning using the county’s block-out time system. Dues in 1959 were $10; now they are $180 annually.

Golf
Left to right: Marge Chase, Jull Eisner, Laura Robbins.

Many other things have changed as well. When the club was founded, the Sprain Brook Parkway hadn’t been built, and the second hole on the current course was the starting hole and the current first hole was the 18th. The Parkway section that was constructed in 1962 used part of the course and resulted in re-routing to the current configuration.

In the early 2000s, the county undertook a major renovation and upgrade of the course and facilities. At that time, there were a few areas on the fairway designated as teeing grounds for women players, but there were no forward tees. Judi Forrest, club president at the time, talked her way into the renovation planning process after consulting golf architect Alice Dye, wife or famed designer Pete Dye, who advised, “It’s not just the tee boxes, it’s the landing areas that are important.” The support of the Women’s League was a major factor in the creation of forward tees.

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Jubilee tournament winners (left to right): Joan Ciaramella, Debra Santucci, Sue Snow, Carlene Fallacaro

The 65th jubilee celebrated current members as well. “Each woman contributes to the Club in her own way,” De Natale says, “either being on the Board of Governors, holding a Chairwoman position, or being on an ad hoc committee. Every member follows our mission statement to promote the highest standard of good sportsmanship, knowledge of the rules, etiquette, and the spirit of the game of golf.” There is approximately a 40-year difference in ages between the youngest and oldest members.

Participants in the golf tournament wore blue in recognition of the club’s “sapphire anniversary.” They played a 12-hole step-aside scramble that was won by Joan Ciaramella, Debra Santucci, Sue Snow, and Carlene Fallacaro.

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Westchester Parks Commissioner Kathy O’Connor.

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