Women’s SC Golf Association sees growth, plans for more gains in new season

·3 min read

Named executive director of the Women’s South Carolina Golf Association in mid-2017, Clarissa Childs hit the ground running and has not slowed since.

Growing the women’s game is her mission, and she likes what she sees in both quality and quantity of both younger players and those more experienced.

“Bigger and better” is the annual objective, and the WSCGA continually hits the bull’s-eye.

In the early stage of her fifth year, “both the membership and tournament participation have grown, and we have to be pleased with that,” she said.

Childs introduced the South Carolina Women’s Open in 2018, and the tournament continues to grow with stronger fields. She looks for ways to bring mid-amateurs back to the course and to provide opportunities for those who cannot play during the week. Younger players, both beginners and those competing in high school and college, are always a focal point.

“All ages and all skill levels,” she said. “We want to have something for everyone.”

She looked back over the past 19 months — the time frame that the coronavirus outbreak created a myriad of challenges — and said: “All things considered, it’s been good. The scheduling got to be a little difficult at times, but all in all we’re moving in the right direction.”

A particular highlight for Childs came after the State Women’s Open at Cobblestone Park. Several of the former LPGA players who competed in the senior professional division remained afterward to conduct a clinic for fledgling players at Par Tee Golf Center in West Columbia.

“We had 41 girls who are just starting to play, eighth- and ninth-graders,” Childs said. “That’s a wonderful way to get introduced to the game.”

Childs came to the WSCGA with glowing credentials. She made all-SEC twice at South Carolina (1992-96), played on the LPGA Tour for seven years, assisted former coach Kristi Coggins with the USC women’s team and coached the Newberry College women’s team for five years.

“I stepped into a great situation” with the WSCGA, she said. “It was easy to grow from the seeds that had been planted.”

Her contagious enthusiasm clicked with sponsors, and the “seeds” she inherited quickly bore fruit. Her “big idea” — the State Women’s Open — did its objective of increasing the profile of women’s golf in the state. The pro-am prior to the Open sold out, and she added a pre-tournament concert to the festivities.

“When I played on the Tour, some tournaments had a concert in connection with the pro-am party,” she said. “We thought that would be an added perk that would help grow the event and it’s worked well. A lot of people have done a lot of work to make this all come together.”

Looking ahead, the 2022 schedule is nearing completion, and she is toying with other ideas to present to the WSCGA board of directors for consideration.

The “big events” capture most attention, and Childs relished the performances in the State Amateur and State Women’s Open. But there is a smorgasbord of one-day opportunities at some of the state’s highest-profile courses plus other major championships and a winter trip on the schedule.

“No matter what a player’s handicap is or how long she has played, we want to have something for her,” Childs said. “We want to keep women involved in the game.”

Chip shots. The University of South Carolina men’s team posted a 1-3 record in the SEC Match Play Championship in Birmingham, Alabama. The Gamecocks make a quick turn-around and begin play Sunday in the Isleworth Intercollegiate in Windermere, Florida. ... South Carolina’s women, ranked eighth by Golfstat and 10th by Golfweek, open play Monday in the Jackson Stephens Collegiate in Roland, Arkansas. ... Adrian Anderson (Murrells Inlet) captured the CGA’s Jimmy Anderson Girls’ Invitational in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

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