Golf

Former Gamecock, LPGA golfer Clarissa Childs loves ‘every minute’ with WSCGA

Clarissa Childs
Clarissa Childs

Her two months since becoming executive director of the Women’s South Carolina Golf Association have been a whirlwind of activity for Clarissa Childs and the hectic pace shows no signs of slowing.

There have been tournaments to conduct, an office to move, relationships to establish and re-establish. She looks at the advancements made during Jennifer O’Brien’s tenure at the helm and seeks to build on those with her ideas in the future.

It’s go-go-go all the time, and she’s loving it.

Childs brings a wealth of expertise to the organization, ranging from excellence on the course, coaching college championship teams and administrative duties that go with college jobs.

She twice won All-SEC honors in her playing days at South Carolina (1992-96) and helped the Gamecocks advance to the national championship tournament three times. She played seven years on the LPGA Tour, assisted former coach Kristi Coggins with the USC women’s team and coached the Newberry College women’s squad the past five years.

“We’ve had the State Amateur, the State Juniors, and a USGA qualifier that will send five girls to Missouri for the national tournament,” she said in ticking off big events. “Then, we have the South Carolina-Georgia girls’ team matches, two more USGA qualifiers, the Cross State team shootout, a clinic for high school girls at Par Tee and some one-day events” on the July-August schedule.

“I love every minute of it,” she said. “I look at what we have done, and we sit down after a tournament and think about what we could do better. I’m learning things all the time about where we are and we’re looking at how to improve.”

Little things can mean a lot, and the decision to rope off the driving range and putting green at Thornblade Club during the State Amateur “provided a ‘big’ tournament feel,” she said. “We want to keep adding touches like that.”

Thanks to the moving the State Amateur to June, a decision made prior to Childs’ arrival, “We had the best field we’ve ever had,” Childs said. “We had younger players to compete who in past years had been involved with high school or college teams.”

Furman golfer Reona Hirai (Summerville) won the tournament that, Childs said, “had a great mix of players. We had 50 in the championship flight and 48 in the state flight (who played shorter tees). The quality was excellent and the competition exciting. We want to see that continue to grow.”

Indeed, growing the women’s game is her mission, and she likes what she sees in both quality and quantity of younger players. The clinic at Par Tee that will include former USC All-American Kristy McPherson will be another plus.

Players of all ages are her focus, and events such as the Cross-State Shootout, featuring mid-amateurs in teams from across South Carolina, are important.

“We have to look at more opportunities for players who can’t play during the week,” Childs said. “We want to find ways to keep women involved in the game throughout their lives.”

To that end, she is exploring possibilities to present to the WSCGA board of directors for consideration.

Meanwhile, there are sponsors for to find, championships to oversee and tournaments to schedule. And she loves every minute.

Chip shots

Isabella Rawl (Lexington) captured the CGA’s Carolina Girls’ 15-and-Under title in a playoff in Southern Pines, N.C. Ella Stalvey (Elgin) won the sub-juniors division. … In the CGA’s South Carolina Junior Match Play at Cherokee National GC in Gaffney, Katie Whitfield (Clemson) defeated Jalen Castle (West Columbia) 3 and 2 for the girls’ title, and Zack Gordon (Gaffney) won the boys’ crown with a 3 and 2 decision over Reed Bentley (Wellington). … Evan DeGrazia, who helped Newberry College earn a fifth-place finish in the NCAA Division II championship this year, made his professional debut over the weekend in the Mackenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada tournament in his hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario. … Medalists in qualifying tournaments for the South Carolina Amateur included Nicholas Beiers (Lexington) at the CC of Lexington, Jamie Wilson (Mt. Pleasant) at Coosaw Creek CC in North Charleston and Hunter Parks (Union) at Three Pines CC in Woodruff. The 86th State Amateur will be played Aug. 3-6 at Florence CC. … Golf Channel personality Charlie Rymer, a member of the South Carolina Golf Hall of Fame, will stage a fund-raiser to benefit the boys’ and girls’ golf teams at his alma mater, Fort Mill High, on Aug. 7. Video from the event will appear on the Golf Channel’s Morning Drive program. Go online to www.fmhsgolf.com for details.

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