By Marc Hardin
The Greater Cincinnati Women’s Golf Association’s marquee tournament — the 101-year-old Women’s Metropolitan — is an annual renewal the ladies look forward to with an air of great expectancy. The Senior Women’s Metropolitan creates suspenseful anticipation every summer. The Crystal Bowl is a coveted GCWGA tournament trophy.
But the one event that gets the association excited in a unique way is the annual Scholarship for Higher Education Championship Tournament, better known as the SHE Tournament. The SHE Cup is the traveling trophy won by the GCWGA member club at the annual event. The SHE Tournament, begun in 2008, is one part competitive team challenge, one part fundraiser and all parts fun.
The one day, four-ball, stroke play competition slated for Sept. 12 at Blue Ash Golf Course determines a championship club and continues the association’s quest to encourage young women to play golf. There’s a 10 a.m. shotgun start with a cookout, awards ceremony, raffles and silent auctions following golf. Prizes include donated rounds of golf, golf clubs, gear and other sports accessories. The traveling trophy is awarded, and runner-up and third-place finishers are recognized. Coldstream Country Club is defending champion.
“It’s a lot of fun and it’s for a great cause,” said GCWGA Scholarship Foundation board chair Georgianne Koch, who teams up with tournament co-chairs Laurie Funch and Robin Kofler. “We bring all the member clubs together to benefit high school seniors who have an interest in golf. We have 26 member clubs. We had 22 clubs play last year, and that’s about our average. Twenty-four clubs last year donated money. Our goal is to eventually get them all.”
Each participating member club sends four golfers who score at the SHE Tournament with two net best balls of four. The lowest total score of the two best net balls of the foursomes on each hole determines the winner. Ties are determined by a reverse scorecard playoff. Each participating club has a Foundation Day Net Tournament during the season to determine the foursome representing it at the SHE Tournament.
While the SHE determines the overall winning team from the GCWGA member clubs’ ongoing low net qualifying events, it was designed to help promote and fund the GCWGA Scholarship Foundation. This is the ninth staging of the tournament. Entries are open to the four lowest qualifying players from each member club’s low net qualifying event. Those golfers must have posted at least 20 18-hole scores between 2015 and 2016 and have a Greater Cincinnati Golf Association GHIN handicap index.
“This is a great way for us to involve our member clubs and give to the community,” Koch said. “Over the years, we have given out 72 scholarships worth $90,500.”
This year, the SHE Tournament and other private donations will help raise money for 10 $1,500 one-time-only scholarships for girls in the class of 2017. Each candidate applies and is selected on the basis of academic achievement, excellence of character and involvement in the sport of golf. The 2016 awards were announced in May and recipients received their scholarship certificates at July’s Kent Tournament luncheons where benefactors and beneficiaries got to meet each other.
“You see the future of golf when you meet them,” Koch said. “Hopefully, they will go on and join a club and give back to the game of golf.”
This year’s honorees reads like a who’s-who of 2015-16 Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky high school standouts. They are Alyssa Akiyama (Seven Hills), Kellen Alsip (Sycamore), Morgan Bowen (Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy), Emily McCarthy (Kings), Jenna McGuire (Beechwood), Amy Pugliano (Notre Dame Academy), Allison Satterfield (Indian Hill), Megan Selby (Seton), Abby Swensen (Milford), and Kelsey Wessels (Oak Hills).
All received a $1,500 grant to pursue higher education. Tri-state-area colleges and North Carolina schools are well represented among the group. Pugliano and Wessels are golfing at Northern Kentucky University. McGuire is at Eastern Kentucky. Satterfield is at Purdue. Staying instate are McCarthy at Ohio University, Selby at Wittenberg and Swensen at Ohio Dominican. Heading east are Alsip to North Carolina-Asheville and Bowen to Methodist University in Fayetteville, N.C. Akiyama is at Carleton College in Minnesota.