With spring finally hitting the Pacific Northwest, we are all eager to get out and about to enjoy the beauty of the season. And what a better place to do so than at a golf course! There truly is no more beautiful landscape when it comes to sports than that of a golf course. The mere sighting of one gets you to relax, while it mentally challenges you as well. Did I make it sound enticing enough yet? Are you ready to golf? Well, if I did my job right you should be hyped and ready to find the perfect golf course after you finish reading this piece.
Golf itself has been around since 100 BC. Its beginnings can be traced back to the Romans, where it was called, “paganica.” Players back then utilized a bent stick to hit a stuffed leather ball. There of course have been similar games played throughout different civilizations and even the prohibition of the game. Yes, you read it right. In 1457, the Scottish Parliament imposed a ban for golf and football as it was interfering with archery activities, a national defense exercise. The first act went into effect in 1457 and confirmed in 1471 and 1491.
Fortunately for us, golf is no longer regarded as a threat to any national defense regimen and it can be enjoyed throughout the world pretty much year-round. The two main national associations are the United States Golf Association (USGA), governing body of golf for the U.S. and Mexico and the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA of America), which main focus is to increase interest and participation in golf.
Throughout the years, the PNW has hosted significant golf events including but not limited to the US Open and the LPGA Tour. As with any other event, it requires an elevated level of organization, commitment and knowledge of the sport. To gather a better understanding of what it takes to support not only golf events, but the sport overall, OSN reached out to the Oregon Golf Association (OGA) to give you, our reader, an inside look at their organization.
OSN spoke with OGA’s Chief Executive Officer, Barb Trammell. The OGA is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit membership association. It was founded in 1924 and their mission is: “Promoting Golf to Benefit the Communities and People of Oregon and Southwest Washington.”
Trammell’s impressive resume includes having served as: Senior VP of Tournament Operations for the LPGA and a historic role as the first women to be invited to officiate The Masters, Open Championship (British Open), US Open and PGA Championship. Trammell is a Class A member of the PGA of America and has held roles as PGA club professional and Division I college golf coach and finally, she has been on the USGA Rules of Golf Committee for the past 15 years.
In addition to Trammell’s executive leadership, OGA has 17 – paid staff, a 13 – member Executive Committee and over 700 volunteers. The OGA team works hard to honor their core values of: Serve the Game, Respect Traditions, Operate with Integrity, Practice Inclusiveness, Stay Relevant and Lead by Example all with the goal of fulfilling the OGA Vision: “Enriching Lifestyles Through Golf.”
This dynamic team works year-round to provide the PNW with a variety of venues and opportunities for children, youth and adults. A brief overview of those golf opportunities:
- OGA Championships: The OGA hosts 13 state championship competitions.
- USGA Qualifiers: The OGA administers USGA qualifiers for men, women and seniors.
- OGA Tour: A casual, single-day competition series for men and women of all skills and abilities.
- Women’s Interclub Play (WIP): A women’s only interclub four-ball match play competition.
- Oregon Junior Golf: Both competitive and non-competitive playing opportunities for ages 7-18.
- Explore Oregon Golf Passport: The best value for golfers across Oregon and Southwest Washington. The small, passport-sized book has exclusive offers from 73 golf courses – each providing an 18-hole round (with cart included) for a total fee of $30 or less.
OGA’s ability to provide an ample list of opportunities is greatly in part to their robust volunteer program. Trammell detailed the way OGA’s volunteer program works along with other important efforts going on.
OSN: What can you tell us about your volunteer program?
Trammell: As most nonprofits utilize a tremendous number of volunteers and the use interns as well. OGA recently completed a 120 – attendee volunteer training whom will work at tournaments for Jr. or Sr. Championships. Others will serve as starters, rules officials or as caddy while others will be taking care of players’ registration. Another set of volunteers are the rating directors responsible for grading about 30 courses throughout the region. Another important group are the “Handicaps” from each club and from the OGA chair as it is the person in charge of entering scores and works closely with staff to make sure we have club representatives and volunteer capacity.
OSN: How do you recruit volunteers?
Trammell: OGA has received inquiries about volunteering throughout the years. We use our website and word of mouth. Volunteers usually let us know the area they are interested in volunteering. Our volunteers are very important. They are dedicated and put a lot of hours in. We are driven by our volunteers’ work.
OSN: If there was one event you would tell our readers they can’t miss, what would that be?
Trammell: We have a lot of playing opportunities for all types of players. Male, female seniors, juniors etc. The OGA original intent and reason to form in 1924, was for conducting an amateur championship. With time, it morphed into what it is now running 14 championships for adults along with a Junior Golf Schedule.
One of the most important events is the OGA tour, which was created for those that considered themselves a non-championships. It is a one day competitions throughout the year in private and public facilities. It has become a popular set of competitive outings for players. It is always a sellout session.
OSN: As I researched your organization I learned that the OGA is about opening up opportunities to golf for everyone who wishes to be part of. Years ago I met two young boys who really wanted to play golf, however as you already know, golf can at times be expensive to access, especially amongst youth. How does OGA or what is OGA doing to provide access to those who wish to play but simply cannot afford it?
Trammell: I am glad you ask that question. OGA was the first one to partner with the CA Northern Association to offer the “Youth on Course” (YOC) program in Oregon. This program subsidizes youth so they can play at participating facilities for only $5.00.
To participate, youth complete an online golf course etiquette and YOC Program rules and guidelines. Once they are members they have access to 35 courses with lower junior rates. $10.00 of the funding goes to the facilities so they are not coming out of pocket for kids to play.
To date we have been very successful and have subsidized over $50,000 back to courses. With this program kids get to play golf for $5.00 around the I-5 Corridor from Vancouver to Eugene. Soon we will be expanding into Central Oregon in some form or fashion as it is a great way to get kids and their parents to come out to our facilities. This has been a very successful program and OGA has received testimonials of kids who have said that they play up to four times a week because of this.
OSN: If there was something you would like our readers to know about the OGA, what would that be?
Trammell: The big thing is how much we give back to communities’ services. We provide playing opportunities and the monetary benefit OGA gives is big. We are supporters to the Chick Evans Scholarship program for caddies. Every year we donate $10,000 to the Turfgrass Foundation to help facilities remain current with agronomic initiatives. Some of it goes into the OSU Turf Management Program.
Golf without a doubt is much more than beautiful landscapes in a course. Golf is a well-established sport that has morphed from being played with a feather filled leather ball thousands of years ago, being banned, labeled as “exclusive” to turning into an inclusive and welcoming sport for all.
If you have had enough of the cold, wind and rain, most likely you are ready to get out and explore. I encourage you to visit the OGA’s website at www.oga.org and check out the many things they are working on and for sure their calendar of events if you want to get your golf on.
The list of opportunities is amazing and one of a kind. But perhaps you want to do more than play. If so… No problem at all! OGA has a great program and a spot waiting for you! Whether you are seven or 70 years old, the OGA is the place for you to go to for a chance to golf. Don’t wait any longer and enjoy the sunshine from a golf course!