Sunday, June 7, 1998
This started as a simple plea: Give up your golf clubs. Some of them.
After all, how many clubs can you possibly need? And wouldn't it be easier to sneak out of work if you didn't have so many woods and irons to haul around? Aren't there five or six putters in your basement that were so inferior that they caused you to go off your game?
Get rid of them.
Also, now that you've been sneaking out of work so often to play, aren't you improving? Don't you owe it to yourself to purchase hideously expensive titanium, bubble-shafted, oversized clubs that will enable you to play even better?
Not too choosy
About a hundred young girls would be thrilled to have your castoffs. They will use them to learn to play the game. And, they may learn something even more valuable.
This is the second year for the Girls Golf Club, sponsored by the LPGA, Cincinnati Recreation Commission and Great Rivers Girls Scout Council. It's aimed at girls ages 7 to 17 and costs $25 to register. Kids who need it will be quietly subsidized.
Several corporate good citizens have stepped up to the tee with donations to cover shirts, awards, transportation and lunches. But they need clubs and balls. Lots of them.
The girls, most of whom have never held a club in their hands, probably are not choosy. The clubs do not have to be titanium, scandium, vanadium or zirconium. Balls, any brand, are welcome.
Drop them off from now until June 20 at any Frisch's Big Boy restaurant or any Star Bank. Any of them. The program is for girls throughout Greater Cincinnati, on both sides of the river. They'll be taught by PGA- and LPGA-qualified instructors weekly, June 22 through Aug. 8. Great Rivers Girl Scout Council at 489-1025 is handling applications.
Nancy Gaughan, who's the Health and Wellness Director at the YWCA, provided me with a neatly footnoted stack of evidence about what sports can do for girls. Journal of the American Medical Association. University of Massachusetts Medical School. Harvard. Women's Sports Foundation.
They report that sports build confidence and self-esteem and lower the incidence of depression. Girls active in sports are less likely to become pregnant as teens, less likely to abuse drugs, more likely to graduate from high school and less likely to suffer from eating disorders.
Two medical studies found that regular physical activity reduces death from cancer and from cardiovascular disease. Two more proved long-term benefits include lower risk of osteoporosis and diabetes.
The fun factor
Besides that, Ms. Gaughan knows the girls simply have a lot of fun. She has watched girls in the YWCA's fledgling basketball program and done a survey of her own. Girls were asked to fill out a questionnaire, including a question in which they were asked to complete the phrase "If you let me play..."
Some answers were lofty: " . . . I will get a scholarship and go to college."
Some pragmatic: " . . . it will keep me off the streets, away from drugs and alcohol. Keep me busy."
Some lofty: " . . . I will develop my team work, determination, confidence, sportsmanship, courtesy, stamina and love for sports." A 10-year-old girl says, "When I first started I was scared. But I made a shot." Asked to complete the phrase, she wrote simply, "If you let me play, I will do the best I can."
Of course, if you give away your golf clubs to a girl who then is able to get involved in sports, maybe you won't improve her character or her prospects. Maybe she'll just have fun.
Then again, maybe you'll change her life.
And wouldn't that be just like golf as you know it? Slices, whiffs. And the occasional, miraculous perfect moment.
Laura Pulfer's column appears in The Enquirer on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 768-8393 or fax at 768-8340. She can be heard Monday mornings on WVXU radio (91.7 FM), and as a regular commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition. Email her at email@example.com