Golf

Executive Women's Golf Association offers easy way to learn and socialize after 4 p.m. at Crescent Oaks Country Club

Mary Scicchitano tees off as EWGA chapter president Sharon Rice, left, and Debbie Morrison look on last week.

MIKE CAMUNAS | Times

Mary Scicchitano tees off as EWGA chapter president Sharon Rice, left, and Debbie Morrison look on last week.

TARPON SPRINGS

It's quitting time.

It has, after all, been a long day at work. Some hit happy hour. Others hit the town or have a date.

And then there are the women who use the Executive Women's Golf Association to hit the golf course in this 5 o'clock world.

It's a social group, one that lets inexperienced and experienced golfers make new friends.

They can just let loose and swing their clubs away.

"There are so many women who say, 'I love to play golf' or 'I'm looking for other women to play with,' " event coordinator Judi Pobst said. "They also want to get started playing golf, and this league is going to accomplish those two things."

There's a funny misconception about EWGA. See, the executive part throws people off. Many think they have to be working women to join, which is not true. Any woman is allowed to join, even those that are retired.

"It reaches out to women, allowing them to play at nice country clubs for reasonable prices," Pobst said. "It appeals to women of all (skill) levels. Beginners, advanced, whatever — there's a place here for all of them."

Founded in 1991, the EWGA is a nonprofit membership association that has nearly 20,000 members in more than 120 chapters in the United States, as well as Canada and France. The Tampa Bay Chapter, which covers seven courses in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties, has weekly golf outings for each league.

Women meet at the course, usually around 5, and can play nine holes or take a quick lesson from the course pro and then play three holes.

"It's a good group," said Lutz-resident Debbie Morrison, who originally started playing with EWGA in Boston 10 years ago. "They're all women who want to play, that want to be social, so it never becomes cliquey in the group.

"All around, it has to be one of the best ways for women to play golf, whether learning or just wanting to get out after work."

Morrison adds that playing after work can be difficult. Plenty of golfers play during the week, but don't work. Working 9-5, then hitting nine holes, sometimes more, can be difficult.

"It is hard to push yourself out to the course," Morrison said. "You work all day long and then you want to go play at least nine holes. It can be tough, but having plenty of others with you helps."

The league at Crescent Oaks Country Club just started its first year March 31 and plays Tuesdays about 4 p.m. or later, perfect for women just punching out. Pobst feels EWGA makes it easy for women to play some of the area's nicest courses without the pressure of finding time, or a way, to get a tee time.

Sharon Rice, first-year president for the Tampa Bay Chapter, understands that picking up golf for the first time can be difficult. Not only does it take practice, but it can be tough to find golfing buddies to make a foursome.

EWGA takes a lot of that out of the equation.

"A lot of golfers, new or experienced, can be intimidated," Rice said. "By the course or by new people. What can really be intimidating is being paired with four strangers you don't know and then it's even more intimidating to play golf with them. But here, what you see a lot of is that many women make new friends and form a smaller group that plays on different days. They now have friends to golf with.

"This social way of playing golf helps makes playing with new people much easier."

Community sports editor Mike Camunas can be reached at mcamunas@sptimes.com or (352) 544-1771.

fast facts

Executive Women's Golf Association

Where: The Tampa Bay Chapter of the EWGA has seven leagues in the bay area. Westchase Golf Club in Tampa, Bloomingdale Golfers Club in Valrico, Crescent Oaks Country Club in Tarpon Springs, East Lake Woodlands Country Club in Oldsmar, Belleview Biltmore Golf Club in Belleair, TPC Tampa Bay in Lutz and Northdale in Tampa.

When: Days vary, but all leagues meet around 4 or 5 p.m. on weekdays.

On the Web: For information, log onto www.ewga.com or e-mail Judi Pobst at judi@judipobst.com or Sharon Rice at srice@vecom-usa.com.

Executive Women's Golf Association offers easy way to learn and socialize after 4 p.m. at Crescent Oaks Country Club 04/07/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 8, 2009 10:11pm]

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