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Sport Back in play: Players Championship helps Edward Waters College re-boot women's golf program

13:45  04 may  2021
13:45  04 may  2021 Source:   golfweek.com

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Women’s golf has gotten a mulligan at Edward Waters College, thanks to the Players Championship.

a group of people posing for the camera: Edward Waters College golf © Provided by Golfweek Edward Waters College golf

The Players announced on Monday during a news conference at EWC’s Adams-Jenkins Center that it will donate $50,000 to the Tigers’ athletic department to re-launch the women’s program that ended in 2015 due to funding and recruiting issues.

In addition, past Players chairmen brought more than $10,000 in golf supplies, such as backpacks and push-carts to be used by the players on the team.

Athletic director Paul Bryant said the amount donated “is an enormous chunk,” towards the start-up money required to renew the program.

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“That’s why it was prudent for us to do this,” he said. “This has kick-started our program.”

Bryant said a search for a coach had already begun and he wanted that position filled by July 1. Plans are for the team to begin competition in the spring of 2022 on the NCAA Division II level, either as an independent or in a conference.

ECW is a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which does not offer women’s golf, but it could apply to play in the Peach Belt Conference, a Division II league that includes Flagler College.

The team will practice and play at the Brentwood Golf Club but likely will have access to other facilities throughout the area.

He said the school and the Players have been in discussions about the donation since last fall after reaching out to Marsha Oliver, the PGA Tour’s vice-president for community and inclusion.

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“We pride ourselves in listening to the community and when we heard of this need, we wanted to do everything we could,” said Players Championship executive director Jared Rice. “It’s great local connectivity and emblematic of our mission as a tournament and a property.”

The Players has a long history of supporting First Coast college golf programs and has made contributions in the past to the University of North Florida and Jacksonville University – as well as making the TPC Sawgrass available for practice and tournaments.

“The sport of golf is not only an opportunity to learn sportsmanship, life skills, integrity … all of these core values,” Rice said. “To play it collegiately is a great test of skill and other elements of the game and it’s a great opportunity to provide access and learn the business of golf.”

Edward Waters president and CEO A. Zachary Faison Jr., said the return of women’s golf was an important piece of the school’s overall strategic plan.

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“This program is seminal to the growth of our institution, not only to athletics but our overall program,” he said. “I am so very thankful to the Players for hearing our call and stepping up the plate to help support the reimagination, reinvigoration and relaunching of women’s golf. Minorities are under-represented in golf. Women of color are even more under-represented. We want to be a partner in helping diversify the game.”

Faison said he wants a return to what he called the “vibrant,” EWC golf program prior to 2015, which was coached by Pepper Peete, the wife of 1986 Players champion Calvin Peete. She was also a past director of the First Tee–North Florida.

Rice also touched on that fact and said supporting EWC is part of the PGA Tour’s overall commitment to racial equity and inclusion when it announced last year that it was pledging $100 million over the next 10 years to support nonprofit organizations whose services directly address the inequities and disparities that affect African-American citizens and underrepresented and underserved populations in the communities in which tournaments are conducted.

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The Tour is giving financial support to the APGA Tour, which provides playing opportunities for minority golfers, established an APGA college ranking, which will give the top college players a foothold into the pro game and is supporting this week’s PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship, for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions and Minority Serving Institutions, which began on Monday at the TPC Sawgrass.

“We have made a commitment to increase efforts to build and strengthen partnerships with organizations who are championing diversity, equity and inclusion,” Rice said in announcing the grant to EWC. “Today illustrates that commitment in a partnership with Florida’ first private HBCU.”

Bryant said the school was exploring the resumption of the men’s golf program “a couple of years down the road.”

He said the women’s program is being started first to insure scholarship gender equity.

“We want the total program here at Edward Waters,” he said.

Rice said that when EWC gets to the point where it wants to resume the men’s program, The Players will consider more support.

“We have to listen to that, just like we did in this instance,” he said.

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usr: 5
This is interesting!