CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Golf Association will be celebrating its 100th anniversary this year with events throughout the golf season.
Next week Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will issue a proclamation recognizing the WVGA's work in promoting golf in the state.
The WVGA is planning activities at its six founding clubs, including Fairmont Field Club, Edgewood Country Club, Wheeling Country Club, Clarksburg County Club and Parkersburg Country Club. WVGA Director of Public Relations and Senior Golf Stephanie Hatcher said there will also be events in Huntington, but the WVGA hasn't decided on the venue since the site of the founding club there isn't known.
"We're working on having different events through different locations in the state,'' said Hatcher. "We're not sure what kind of events. We're in the middle of planning that still.''
Hatcher said the main centennial celebration for the WVGA is set for Nov. 2 at Stonewall Resort and the event will be open to the public.
It's all about the kids
The WVGA has expanded its outreach to young golfers.
"That's probably the most important thing we've been working on this year,'' Hatcher said. "We're trying to get kids involved at an early age and teach them the value of golf. It's growing. We've been pushing really hard in getting the word out about it. We're trying to get things up and running in Huntington at the Eastern Panhandle.''
This year the WVGA kicked off a National Schools Program that introduces golf to elementary-aged children. Hatcher said every elementary school in Charleston has chosen to be a part of the program, which uses Starting New At Golf equipment (oversized plastic clubs and tennis balls) to introduce golf during physical-education classes.
A fundraiser for the First Tee of West Virginia - a chapter of the international youth development organization introducing golf and its values to young people - netted nearly $20,000 Monday, Hatcher said. The proceeds will benefit the Greenbrier Valley Section.
The Little General Juniors program's six-week spring session has already started for boys and girls ages 5-8, but spots are still available. A summer session will be offered but the dates are still being worked out.
The Little General Juniors program is available at Coonskin Park in Charleston and Briar Patch Golf Links in Beckley. The program focuses on the early development of junior golf covering putting, chipping and golf course etiquette. For more information, call the WVGA at 304-391-5000 or check out its website at wvga.org.
Senior Open May 20-21
The WVGA has introduced a new championship event this year - the West Virginia Senior Open, which is scheduled for May 20-21 at Guyan Golf and Country Club in Huntington.
The 36-hole stroke-play event is open to professionals and amateurs and will be divided into championship, gold and silver divisions, based on age. The WVGA also holds the West Virginia Senior Amateur every September.
"We thought it would be a great way to get our senior professional golfers integrated into what we do,'' Hatcher said. "We did it because our senior golfers are pretty much the largest chunk of membership in our association.
"The only events we have for our pros are the West Virginia Open and the West Virginia Club Team Championship. We've got a lot of pros in the area. We have a huge Eastern Panhandle contingency that will be coming down. It's just growing. People are golfing later and later in their years.''
Summer camps update
Kanawha County Parks and Recreation will be offering golf camps this summer at Coonskin Park and Big Bend Golf Course in Tornado.