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The Journal Gazette

  • File Johnny Strawser has been one of the top performers on the 3RVRS Tour, which is entering its second season of play. 

  • File Lori Stinson, putting at Coyote Creek, was one of the founding members of the Executive Women’s Golf Association, which has rebranded itself as LPGA Women Who Play. The local chapter is celebrating is 10th season and welcoming new members to its ranks of over 100. 

Sunday, April 08, 2018 1:00 am

Groups work to see golf grow

Local events offer chance to hone game, network

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Key dates

June 4: Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Classic, Sycamore Hills & Fort Wayne Country Club

June 23: Mad Anthonys Charity Classic, Fort Wayne Country Club

July 13: Women's City Tournament begins, Chestnut Hills

Aug. 4: Men's City Tournament begins, Orchard Ridge

Sept. 9: Senior City Championship, Coyote Creek

Guy Means won the first men's City Tournament in 1926. Five years after that, Hillis Snyder won the first women's City Tournament. The tournaments have been run annually since.

Having so much history behind their biggest events, the Fort Wayne Golf Association and Fort Wayne Women's Golf Association are known to almost any golfer who has spent any length of time in Allen County. But they are not the only options for golfers wanting to compete, socialize or network.

Heading into the 2018 golf season, here are two organizations you may not be aware of – LPGA Women Who Play and the 3RVRS Golf Tour – and other things to get you ready to hit the links.

10th season

LPGA Women Who Play was formerly known as the Executive Women's Golf Association, but the name change is part of a rebranding that is taking place nationwide and affecting the Fort Wayne chapter celebrating its 10th year.

The LPGA formed an alliance with the EWGA recently to promote the growth of women's golf. LPGA Women Who Play has 12,000 members, including over 100 in this area.

“Our motto is to have fun and to find new friends,” said Jean Hershberger, marketing director of the local chapter. “What we do is not just in the summer; we do year-round events and not all take place on the golf course. During the winter months, we get together and have game nights.”

LPGA Women Who Play is geared toward allowing women to network on the golf course. But members are from all walks of life, including stay-at-home moms.

When it comes to golf, they have medal-play events for those who are competitive and team scramble events fit for all skill levels.

“We absolutely look for beginner players,” Hershberger said.

The local chapter has opportunities to play twice a week at Autumn Ridge and Chestnut Hills. Players who excel locally can advance to national events. Liz Hill was a national flight champion in 2016.

For information on joining, go to www.ewgafortwayne.com. or email membership@ewgafortwayne.com, and benefits include access to LPGA and Symetra Tour tournaments.

A 10th anniversary Kick Off Celebration is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Pine Valley Country Club with former LPGA player Jane Geddes the guest speaker. The local chapter is also hosting the Upper Mideast Regional on Aug. 18 for players from Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Canada.

Fledgling tour

The 3RVRS Golf Tour is in its second year and has already been tested out by some of the area's top players. Organizers see the 3RVRS Tour as being a companion, not a competitor, to preexisting tournaments.

“Fort Wayne has such a rich golf history. Honestly, I don't look at the 3RVRS Tour as filling a void. Instead, we think of it more as an attempt to build on to an already established local golf landscape,” said Mark Beneke, the 3RVRS Tour's president. “The (FWGA's) city championship is such a great event and is highly thought of not just in our community, but around the state of Indiana. I think I speak for other players in the city when I say we are lucky to have such a great local golf association. With that said, we are slightly different. Our events are only 18 holes and this allows players an opportunity to gain more competitive reps but doesn't require players to spend the entire weekend at the golf course.

“As Fort Wayne, and the local sports scene, continues to grow, it is very humbling and satisfying that we are playing a small part in that aforementioned growth. At the end of the day, we are just doing our part to grow the game of golf in the Summit City.”

Last year, the gross division champion was Dan Gerard and the net division champion was Barry Jackisch.

The 3RVRS Tour doesn't require a membership, just a $20 entry fee per tournament – there are eight this year – plus greens fees. Eight courses will be played, including Riverbend, Colonial Oaks, Cobblestone in Kendallville and Cedar Creek in Leo-Cedarville. For information, go to www.3rvrstour.com or email 3rvrstour@gmail.com

City associations

For information on joining the FWGA, go to www.fwga.com. Its schedule kicks off April 21 at Riverbend. The defending city champion is Nick Bienz and this year's City Tournament is at Orchard Ridge on Aug. 4-6.

The Fort Wayne Women's Golf Association's website is www.fwwga.com and its City Tournament will be July 13-15 at Chestnut Hills. Last year's winner was Marissa Singer.

The Senior Golf Association of Fort Wayne (www.fwsrgolf.com), which was established in 1992, will play its City Championship Sept. 9-10 at Coyote Creek. Sam Till Jr. won last year – for the sixth time.

What else

For information on how to sign up for statewide tournaments, such as local qualifiers for the Indiana Open, go to www.indianagolf.org. Several junior tour events can also be found on that site. Most public and private clubs also offer tournaments, lessons or recommendations on where players can sharpen their games.

For those ages 7-18, check out Lifetime Sports Academy, which offers free lessons in golf, tennis and swimming, running June 4-July 20. Information is at www.fortwayneparks.org or by calling 260-427-6760.

jcohn@jg.net