Over the past several years, the Georgia State Golf Association has added multiple competitions to its schedule, aiming to grow the selection of available opportunities to underserved segments.
For example, the Georgia Mixed Team Championship, a gross and net competition that allows one male and one female partner together, has been created as part of the process providing a fun team event to GSGA members. Also, The Georgia Junior Boys’ & Girls’ Match Play Championships have been introduced to give younger players a chance to gain match play experience at an earlier age.
One segment of the GSGA membership that has seen a jump in available competitions for varying ages during this timeframe is women. The Georgia Women’s Interclub Matches was added to the schedule in 2022, along with the Georgia Women’s Four-Ball Championship, giving women of all ages an opportunity to play in more team events with friends.
During this time, the GSGA noticed another segment was missing a tournament of their own: mid-amateur women.
Enter the Georgia Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship.
The inaugural playing of the competition is set for June 19-20 at the Country Club of Columbus, which is well known for hosting the Southeastern Amateur each summer. With advice from other state associations, the GSGA introduced the competition for female amateur golfers ages 21 and over with only one stipulation: A player must not be actively on a college golf roster.
“Mid-Am is a group that had nothing specific to them,” said Jeff Fages, the GSGA’s senior director of rules and competitions. “For many, they might not want to compete against the top college and junior players anymore on a more difficult course set-up, so the Mid-Am offers an opportunity for the GSGA to stay engaged with younger women and provide them with a unique competitive golf experience.
“We want to help provide opportunities to promote them to stay active and involved. As a mid-amateur player myself, it’s really encouraging to see the development and progress made by golf associations to keep adding opportunities for us to stay competitive.” – Sydney Weaver, the GSGA’s manager of women’s golf
“We realized it could be a small event to start, but we are willing to take the steps necessary to grow it into something successful and attractive to that segment of the membership.”
The typical mid-amateur age begins at 25, but this excludes young professionals who are recent college graduates and others who have the competitive bug but are not mid-amateur eligible.
After seeing the success of the Florida State Golf Association lowering the age from 25 to 22 for their Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, the GSGA concluded implementing a similar plan was the best way to serve the membership and combat a trend of these young professionals leaving the game for various reasons.
“We want to help provide opportunities to promote them to stay active and involved,” said Sydney Weaver, the GSGA’s manager of women’s golf. “As a mid-amateur player myself, it’s really encouraging to see the development and progress made by golf associations to keep adding opportunities for us to stay competitive. It can sometimes be intimidating to compete against current college athletes, and this feels like a great opportunity to keep developing as a player.”
For players who have spent a majority of their junior and college days heavily involved with the game, entering the workforce and burnout are major factors driving players out. Mid-amateur tournaments and a lower age to enter such events can provide an outlet for competitors to return to the game.
“I knew if I didn’t end up playing professionally once I got out of school, I would want to be involved in a mid-amateur event in some capacity to keep the competitive juices flowing,” said Kayla Bloor, who played collegiately at Florida State University and the University of Southern Mississippi. “I believe the Georgia Women’s Mid-Amateur is a great opportunity for women to stay competitive post-college golf and for those who decided not to turn pro.”
Decreasing the entry fee for ages 21-29 to ease the financial burden on younger players was a major point for the GSGA in adding the Mid-Amateur Championship to its women’s schedule.
“Seeing that this age group is just embarking on new careers, we felt it was important to provide them an incentive to play, realizing that discretionary funds to spend on golf may not be as available as more established players,” Fages added.
As a member of the group receiving the discounted entry fee, Bloor, who will compete in this year’s event, believes the decision to provide this opportunity can provide a two-fold effect.
“One is the opportunity to gain a fan of the GSGA and provide an excellent event experience where they will continue to apply to play in future events and stay in golf,” said Bloor, who is the director of membership and marketing at the Country Club of Columbus. “Two, the ability to play in events as a young professional can possibly help further one’s career. Playing can spark networking opportunities and (build) business relationships.
“Their employer may be encouraged to know they have a team member with the ability to keep it in the fairway and may now use them to participate in corporate outings to promote the business and build their professional network.”
Though the inaugural playing of the Georgia Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship may be a small field size, the GSGA is thrilled for the chance to create a new opportunity for mid-amateur women in the Peach State to compete and develop on and off the course.
“There has been a lot of excitement around this addition,” Weaver said. “We have a lot of competitive women who are looking for more playing opportunities that fit their schedule. I get a lot of questions from women asking what other events they can play in, and we are so excited to host another championship for them.
“The game keeps growing, and we want to give opportunities for more women to join and connect with one another.”
Corey Bodden is the director of communications and marketing for the Georgia State Golf Association.
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