WSCGA ‘moving in the right direction’

With the Women’s South Carolina Golf Association’s season drawing to a close, executive director Clarissa Childs looks back with satisfaction and forward with great expectations.

“It’s been a great year,” said Childs, who has headed the organization for 18 months.

Top achievements: increased participation at all levels and the successful launch of the South Carolina Women’s Open.

Reasons to relish the future: Doubling the State Women’s Open purse to $20,000, a soon-to-be-released schedule that includes 12 new courses and high-profile championships at Dataw Island Club, Palmetto Golf Club, Fripp Island Club and Seabrook Island club.

“Plus, we have a couple of new events in the discussion stage that we hope to finalize for 2019,” Childs said.

Childs, a transplanted-Californian who starred at South Carolina and spent seven years of the LPGA Tour, became WSCGA executive director in May, 2017 and has been on-the-go since. In addition to overseeing events ranging from one-day competitions to major championships, she works on schedules, fund-raising and promoting the game.

“We want to get more women of all ages involved,” she said. “We want to provide the opportunities and we want to raise the profile of the women’s game.”

Establishing the South Carolina Women’s Open provides an example of the latter. Although getting a late start in announcing the dates, the tournament drew a field of 68, and Childs expects that to double to a full field in 2019. She spent a recent weekend at the LPGA Senior Championship to drumming up interest.

“Jan Stephenson told me she had heard about the tournament and I invited her to play,” Childs said. “We have such a great venue at Seabrook Island, and the club members are so supportive in helping with housing and other volunteer opportunities.”

In the inaugural State Women’s Open, Dawn Woodard, an amateur who played at Furman and is a regular in USGA championships, won the overall title. Former LPGA star Rosie Jones delivered the most impressive performance in running away with the senior pro division.

A switch in dates, starting in 2017, that allowed younger players to compete bolstered the field for the South Carolina Women’s Amateur, and this year’s event showed the increased quality depth. Kelli Murphy, a recent Auburn graduate, dominated, but the top 10 showed a range in ages from high school and college performers to veterans such as former champions Woodard and Cecilia Fournil.

“It’s a state championship and I believe the dates should give up the opportunity for the best field,” Childs said. “Competition is good. Competing against the best makes a player improve. Seeing the wave of younger players coming along makes me feel good about the future.”

The high-profile events receive the most attention, but the one-day tournaments — some in stroke play, some in a best-ball format — plus the weekend series and the Wine-and-9 initiative are equally important to the game’s growth, Childs said.

“We want to provide opportunities for women of all ages and all skill levels,” she said. “We would like for them to get involved and hope they keep coming back. This year tells me we’re moving in the right direction, and I like the possibilities moving forward.”

Chip shots. Despite three players _ seniors Scott Stevens and Ryan Stachter and freshman Ryan Hall _ shooting under par in the final round, USC’s men finished 12 th in the Tavistock Collegiate Invitational. “It’s been frustrating . . . to not have everyone contributing,” coach Bill McDonald said. . . . Turk Pettit, Bryson Nimmer and Jacob Bridgeman posted top-seven finishes to lead Clemson’s men to second place in the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate Invitation. . . . Jonathan Griz (Hilton Head Island) fired a final- round 64 to win the Bobby Chapman Junior Invitational at the CC of Spartanburg. . . . Geno Berchiatti shot 2-under-par 69 to win the SCGA’s 40- plus Series tourney at Palmetto GC in Aiken. . . . Jeremy Moore and Emily Rapp teamed to win the SCGA-WSCGA Mixed Team title at Fripp Island’s Ocean Point Course. Nick Avery and Julie Flynn joined forces to win the senior division.