Giving girls a chance to golf

First Posted: 8/9/2014

The Scranton-Pocono LPGA/USGA Girls Golf Club has spent the last 13 years exposing young girls to the game of golf.

When the girls from that program got a chance to join experienced women’s golfers for a tournament at Shadowbrook Resort Golf Course in Tunkhannock, the event was so popular that it almost tripled in size from its debut in 2012 to the third annual event Thursday, Aug. 7.

A group of 50 junior players, from the introductory program designed primarily for girls ages 7-17, joined the Shadowbrook Ladies League players for the evening.

“We had 18 girls participate the first year,” said Terry Wise, who serves as program director at one of the two Scranton-Pocono LPGA/USGA Girls Golf Club sites. “They went back and said how much fun they had and we got 30 last year.

“Then, they went back and said how much fun they had.”

The result was the junior group outgrew the number of available players from the ladies league. Women golfers from other local clubs and some mothers of players volunteered to fill in the remaining spots to create 25 teams, 23 of which were made up of two adults and two youth players.

One of those adult players was the program’s top alumnus. Selena Cerra, a Holy Cross High School graduate from Carbondale, who is a scholarship golfer at Division I Niagara University, made it to the event after winning a women’s tournament at Elkview Country Club earlier in the day.

Cerra was one of the girls that made her way to Lakeland Golf Course, a nine-hole executive course in Fleetville, over the past 13 years.

Lakeland Golf Course and Fawnwood Golf Complex, a driving range in Scranton, are the sites for a program that has 105 players involved this summer.

Each week, half of the group reports to Lakeland and the others go to Fawnwood.

Wise, a Tunkhannock resident who teaches Sports and Recreation Management at Keystone College, instructs the Lakeland group. A half-hour lesson about how to play a particular club is followed by time playing the golf course.

Bernie Fornicola leads the instruction at the driving range.

Wise and Fornicola have assistance from several adults in the golf community on a regular basis and others stop in on occasion.

In earlier years, Fawnwood was often only used for about two weeks of the season, but Wise and Fornicola said the players have shown that they enjoy time at the driving range.

The LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) started the nationwide program to make golf more affordable to kids. It provides a grant to help keep costs down and to provide scholarship assistance. Shadowbrook, Lakeland, Sleepy Hollow, Skyline, Fern Hall, Homestead and Scott Greens then allow the players, when accompanied by parents, to play at a highly discounted rate that is covered by the Scranton-Pocono LPGA/USGA Girls Golf Club as part of the Kids on Course program.

The players made their way to Shadowbrook for the tournament, which was played in a captain-and-crew format with some modifications to make sure the kids were a big part of each team. The group was randomly split into two nine-hole tournaments, one of the course’s front nine and the other on the back nine.

“It gives kids a chance to see what it’s like to play in a tournament,” Wise said.

The program could also provide a future boost to the Shadowbrook Ladies League, which is thriving but only has two current players under the age of 40.

With donations from local golf clubs and players, all kids who participated got to select from a prize table while enjoying pizza after the tournament.

The largest prizes were awarded to the youngsters from the top three teams on each side.

The lowest score of the day came when 10-year-old Molly Gaffney from Clarks Green and 11-year-old Elizabeth Franchetti from Clarks Summit combined with Elizabeth Schneider from Clarks Summit and Kathy Goeringer from Tunkhannock to shoot 34 and win the back nine division.

The only team with three youth players shot 36 to take second place. Shainah Brainard from Nicholson, Bethany Brown from Dickson City and Mariah Casey from Jefferson Township joined Leslie Soloman from Clarks Summit to shoot 36.

Third place went to 7-year-old Anna Trauger, 10-year-old Jessica Trauger and their mother, Ann Marie Trauger, from Dunmore, playing with Sharon Smith. They shot 37.

The front nine event was won by 12-year-old Sidney Horvath from Clarks Summit, 9-year-old Cierra Toomey from Dunmore, Kathy Oven from Dunmore and Ellen Frank from Tunkhannock with a 38.

Second place went to 8-year-old Samantha Rogalla from Dalton, 10-year-old Quinn Crispell and her mother, Deb Crispell, from Swoyersville and Mary Beth Guyette from Tunkhannock with a 40.

The third place team was 9-year-old Giana Cafarella and her 11-year-old brother Nick Cafarella from Scranton with Wilma Gay and JoAnn Shaw, both from Tunkhannock. They shot 42.

One Back Mountain player participated. Amelia Grudkowski, an 11-year-old from Dallas, also played on the Anthracite Golf Association Junior Tour this summer.

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