Southern California PGA Foundation

Every summer before the season, Charter Oak High School varsity golf coach Jon Coupler would hop in his car and drive over 80 miles east to Palm Springs. He’d visit golf courses in the desert community, reaching out to golfing contacts to see what clubs they could spare for his girls’ varsity squad back in Covina, a suburb 25 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. Most years, he would piece together enough clubs for two or three full sets, enough to field a team but not enough to allow his girls to have clubs to take home and practice. Until now.

In 2017, the Southern California Professional Golf Association (SCPGA) Foundation set up the ClubsForeYouth program, partially funded by a grant from the LA84 Foundation. The program distributed 100 sets of clubs to female golfers across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino County, targeting CIF – Southern Section schools with limited resources. One of these was Charter Oak, which received nine brand-new sets of Wilson clubs.

The LA84 Foundation is committed to leveling the playing field in sport, which includes a commitment to gender equality in youth sports. In the areas that SCPGA serves, 70% of female golfers have competed with secondhand and borderline serviceable equipment in high school team matches. Forty-four percent borrow or share equipment for these matches.

The Artesia High School girls squad with their new clubs. (SCPGA)

New clubs not only provides a morale boost to the existing team members, but they also open doors. “I was shocked because I wasn’t expecting it,” said Montserrat, a junior at Charter Oaks who hadn’t played golf prior to 2017. “My mom didn’t want me to do golf because clubs are expensive, and receiving these as a gift is pretty good.”

The impact goes beyond access. “Our best days are ahead of us,” said Charter Oaks Athletic Director Dominic Farrar. “When those girls take those clubs on the course, they’ll take pride in that. They’re going to have equipment that looks and plays the part.”

For those involved in it, golf is a unique sport when it comes to competition. While millions are at stake in the professional ranks, many enjoy golf for its aesthetic rather than its technical elements. “It’s extremely rewarding [to coach],” said Coupler. “The kids don’t live and die by it. They come out and have a great time. They can see great courses. They see great scenery. It’s a chance to experience something else.”

The SCPGA Foundation has granted clubs to schools across Southern California, including Big Bear High School. (SCPGA)

The ClubsForeYouth is picking up more steam heading into 2018. The SCPGA Foundation has partnered with Wilson to purchase 200+ sets in total by the end of 2018, while professional golfers Brendan Steele and Lizette Salas have joined on as official spokespersons raising awareness for the program. SCPGA President/CEO Tom Addis III wants to expand the program all the way from San Luis Obispo County in the north down to San Diego. “The great things about golf is the piece of happiness it brings to people,” Addis III added. “We hope that’s going to bring more and more smiles as we expand the program in Southern California.”

For now, the nine girls at Charter Oaks no longer have to forfeit team matches due to a lack of equipment. The whole team can practice together. While the emergence of the next golf prodigy remains to be seen, the impact of the LA84 Foundation and SCPGA is being felt immediately to Farrar and his Covina community. “This is people being genuine,” he said. “And giving back to communities that are almost desperate for anything we can get for our kids.”

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