Ellen Dreher chips one out of the sand during last week’s Ohio
girls Golf foundation tournament at Avon Oaks Country Club.
(West Life photo by Larry Bennet)
tournament means more than just winning
By Jon Wysochanski
Published July 29, 2009
Ohio Girls Golf Foundation Tournament was held at Avon Oaks Country
Club last week, and the course was alive with 120 girls competing
from high schools across Ohio.
The weather was calm and pleasant during last Monday’s
tournament, where girls competed both as individuals and as members
of their high school teams.
Some of those present said golf is always an individually
competitive game, even while playing on a team. They noted how there
are good days and bad days on the course, and talked about how becoming
a good golfer provides skills that can be beneficial in dealing
with the frustrations of daily life.
According to Teen Burke, president of the Ohio Girls
Golf Foundation, the tournament and the foundation’s goal is to
encourage the creation of girls golf teams. She said this is done
through teaching girls how to enjoy golf, play a better game and
hopefully handle situations without cursing or club throwing.
“I think it can teach a girl patience, I think it
can teach social skills and I think it can teach communication skills,”
said Burke. “Obviously, it also teaches physical and control skills,
along with discipline and concentration.”
While talking about what lessons golf can teach girls,
Burke also added that golf is something someone can conceivably
play until the day they die.
“I think all of this transfers into life skills,”
said Burke “Golf is certainly a lifelong leisure sport that they can play throughout
their life. I think it is one of the few sports you can continue
to play until you are 90-years-old.”
Leigh Brattian, an avid golfer who has volunteered
at the tournament for the past seven years, said golf is a good
way to challenge girls to reach their fullest potential in life.
She said if girls realize they can excel in a sport by learning
the proper way to play, they will have better chances of succeeding
in whatever it is they choose to do throughout their lives.
Jenna Gentner of Rocky River lines up a shot during the OGGF
Tournament last week at Avon Oaks. Below: Caroline Kennedy of
Bay Village tees off at last week’s Ohio Girls Golf Foundation
tournament at Avon Oaks Country Club. (West Life photos by Larry
“The push is to get girls interested in golf,” said
Brattian. “It’s all about good sportsmanship and teaching the girls
the etiquette of golf.”
Brattian said it is equally important to provide tournaments
and events for girls, where they don’t have to feel intimidated
Laurel Friesen, who competed in the tournament for
Magnificat High School, said she started golfing when she was about
10. She recently graduated from Magnificat and plans to attend Northwestern
University where she wants to study medicine.
She was still allowed to compete in the tournament
since she graduated this year. After landing her ball on the green
while playing on the 15th hole, Friesen discussed what golf is all
about to her.
“I think golf teaches you independence,” said Friesen.
“Although you’re with a team, everything is about you. “You’re in
control of everything, and it teaches you patience and perseverance.”
Perseverance and patience are valuable skills to acquire
in a game where one minute your ball could land safely on the fairway
or green, while the next minute one could find themselves in the
sand, water or braving the brush to find the ball.
Friesen said she likes to consider some advice her
dad gave her when it comes to golf and life in general.
“My dad always says it’s not over until it’s over,”
said Friesen. “I think that helps a lot - it helps with everything.
Even if something bad happens it’s not over until you quit, and
you shouldn’t quit.”
At the 16th hole, which Brattian said is a par 3 that
plays like a par 5 when you are swinging into the wind, another
Magnificat golfer, Victoria Bello, talked about giving golf a chance.
Bello, who will graduate next year, said she really
didn’t like golf when she started.
She said that throughout her freshmen year, she just wasn’t
very interested in it. But after her freshmen year, her interest
in the sport grew and now she says that playing has been a learning
“It has been a lot about teamwork even though it is
an individual sport,” said Bello. “Our team is really close. I kind
of think it helps me contain myself. It’s about control because
every shot counts. You need to let it go when you have a bad shot.”
Bello remained cool and collected, even laughing when
asked if she ever has bad days on the course.
“Today is one of them,” she laughed.
Bello said she really wants to go to college in Charleston,
where she hopes to study marine biology or become a veterinarian.
She said she wants to focus on academics first, and then
she’ll decide if she wants to continue golfing while she is in college.
“I want to go to college and then figure it out,”
Burke said that girls who compete in the OGGF Tournament
may have never played 18-holes, and that it is a good way to introduce
them to it. She also said it is a good way for girls to warm up for the high
All competing aside, Burke said the tournament is
about teaching the girls how to become better golfers.
“This is an educational tournament,” said Burke. “We
start out in the morning by having a sport psychologist talk to
them, which gets them into the mental aspects of the game.
This is probably the biggest part of the game, and I think
more important, besides the skill level of it.”
The mental program is followed by having the girls
watch a demonstration by two former participants, according to Burke.
The girls then play two holes while being followed and critiqued
by a pro.
The pro teaches them what they need to be aware of
while they are playing golf in terms of equipment and terrain.
“Why are you using this club? Why are you approaching
the hole from that angle?” said Burke, referring to the critique
the girls receive on the test holes. “So we have two different aspects
of the game of golf that we are trying to teach the girls and have
them exposed to. Then they go into the tournament itself.”
Burke said she was a physical education teacher who
didn’t have much of an interest in golf until she was in her late
20s. After her husband finished law school, they decided to take
She has been president of the Ohio Girls Golf Foundation
since 1994, having been involved with, and at one point president
of, the Cleveland Women’s Golf Association.
When the OGGF was founded in 1994, there were very
few girls golf teams, said Burke. Brattian added that when she was in high school,
if a girl wanted to play golf they had to play on the boys team.
Burke said the foundation has been instrumental in
changing this by encouraging, introducing and instructing more girls
“In Northeastern Ohio, there were no girls golf teams,”
said Burke. “And then - it started out very slowly - a school here
and a school there would develop a girls golf team. Now in Northeastern
Ohio, there are over 100 girls golf teams, and in the state of Ohio
there are over 250 teams.”
Burke said high school girls have played in the tournament
for the past eight years, and for the first seven years adults played
to help raise money for the foundation.
Burke said the foundation provides scholarships to girls
and funds girls to play in local, regional, state and national tournaments
“This year we had two girls qualify to compete in
the USGA Junior Championships in Missouri,” said Burke.
Burke noted one last aspect of golf that she loves,
watching a young golfer take a swing and hit a nice shot.
“This is what I tell the kids,” said Burke. “You will
make friends every time you golf. You will make friends for the
rest of your life.”
For more information about the Ohio Girls Golf Foundation,
visit their Web site at www.oggf.org.