LPGA Founder, pioneer for women’s golf and author of the book, “From Green to Tee,” Shirley Spork has been paving the way for women players for decades. When she is not out promoting her book, she is putting her efforts in keeping the LPGA thriving for current and future players. Spork took the time to answer some questions and gave us her insight on the golfing scene, and how it’s evolved to include women golfing professionals.
1. Tell us something about the game when you started playing that might surprise golfers today.
I first learned to play golf using a putter. When I was 11 years old, I lived on a golf course, so I would sell golf balls to players as they passed through. I saved up all the money that I made selling golf balls and went down to the local thrift store to buy the only club that I could afford: a putter.
Back in 1938, there were no Junior Golf programs, so the only way I learned was by going on the golf course and playing it myself. The golf Ranger would come around and scurry me away, but that didn’t keep me away from the golf course for too long.
2. What do you think about the impact you and other Founders have had on the direction of women in golf?
We all worked hard to keep the momentum going for women’s golf. Many of us Founders were financially sponsored through different, yet well-known, golfing vendors. Golfing companies such as Spaulding, Golf Craft and Wilson each sponsored one of us LPGA Founders in our golfing endeavors. With their endorsements, we were also to promote the game through different events and in the golf equipment they made.
With our hard work, combined with our ability to keep the LPGA financially viable, we were able to sustain the future of this organization for future women players, and give them a goal to reach in their golfing careers.
3. How has the game of golf changed since you started playing?
Women’s golf is now more recognized, it’s global and it is getting much more publicity than decades ago. It has become more accepted in the sporting world, and women’s golf has grown by 700% since I started playing it.
Many women that I have talked to have also commented on how much they love the clothes that are now offered for women players. Some started playing, or took an interest in it, just because they wanted to wear the clothes that are now styled for women golfers.
4. How does an event like the Founders Cup make you feel, considering that just a few decades ago, women weren’t really welcome to play golf?
What I like about the Founders Cup is that all proceeds go to Junior Golf programs. The LPGA developed this tournament to assist in making golf more available for the younger generations interested in playing. Having the funds to support Junior Golf initiatives ensures the golf industry’s future and keeps the game alive within the hearts of young women players.
5. What advice would you give to a woman hesitant to try golf?
Take a friend to play with you or get involved with a group of players that are interested in learning too. Check to see if there are LPGA professionals teaching lessons at a local golf course. If not, then I recommend taking lessons from a local golf pro. I find it important to not only have a feel of the game before playing, but to also understand the etiquette that goes along with the game of golf as well.
For more information on golfing legend, Shirley Spork, check out her book, From Green to Tee, available on Amazon. You can also learn more about her Pro-Am tournament whose goal is to raise funds for the “First Tee” program. For more information check out her website: http://birdeasepro.com/shirleyspork