The Cognizant Founders Cup, unique to other events on the LPGA Tour schedule, has a special focus on looking at the past, present, and future of the women’s game. As the tournament soldiers on this week, Thursday night’s Pioneer dinner took time away from the excitement of tournament play, skills challenges, and history walks to honor two exceptional women who have tirelessly worked towards making junior golf special for the girls who will one day lead the future of the game.

Cori Matheson and Charlaine Hirst were named the Sandy LaBauve Spirit Award winners in 2019 and 2020 respectively, the highest honor given by the LPGA*USGA Girls Golf association. Candidates for this annual award are nominated by the girls golf participants themselves, and the title is given to the Girls Golf Site Director who has gone above and beyond to inspire the lives of juniors through their passion and dedication to empowering girls through golf.

Get to know the two women who embody the spirit of the Cognizant Founders Cup and Girls Golf founder Sandy LaBauve by fostering the love of the game for the girls in their programs.

Cori Matheson


2019 Sandy LaBauve Spirit Award Winner

Site: LPGA*USGA Girls Golf of Phoenix, AZ

Cori Matheson is the first Girls Golf alumna to win the Sandy LaBauve Spirit Award, becoming a living embodiment of the Girls Golf motto #LittleGirlsBIGDreams. The job of Girls Golf Site Director isn’t one she takes lightly as it has been a dream job for her ever since she told her predecessor, Kathy Knadler, that she one day wanted to follow in her footsteps over twenty years ago.

“I love Girls Golf,” said Matheson. “It’s not a job, it’s a piece of me. It’s been a piece of me since I was 12, and it always will be. The fact that I am in a world where I not only get to be a mom, but I also get to be a mom to thousands of girls—that’s how I view my role. If I can be a mentor to them and if I can provide them a safe place, if I can build their confidence, if I can be there to work them through a hard situation, if I can be there to make them laugh. All those things you view a mom doing, that’s what I want to do.”

She believes in the power of Girls Golf so much that she petitioned the City of Phoenix to proclaim September 25th officially as Girls Golf Day!

Charlaine Hirst


2020 Sandy LaBauve Spirit Award Winner

Site: LPGA*USGA Girls Golf of Whispering Pines, NC

Charlaine “Coach Chip” Hirst is a champion of the 5E’s, the organization’s commitment to Energize, Exercise, Enrich, and Empower. Each of her initiatives in her Girls Golf chapter helps her junior golfers grow both their skills and as people. Outside of her chapter’s programs, she serves as an ambassador and subject matter expert on all things Girls Golf for the LPGA Foundation as well as mentoring and advising other Girls Golf Site Directors new and old through webinars and sharing her experiences.

“Coach Chip is involved with more than golf as she teaches the girls that charity and working for others is just as rewarding as sinking a putt,” said Hunter Miller, a parent to two girls involved in Hirst’s Girls Golf program. “She’s an advocate for pet rescue and supports the local community by collecting donations for Caring Hearts for Canines. This subtle act demonstrates both the person and program that Coach Chip teaches each week.”

Part of the award honor comes with a special seat in the Founders Perch, where LPGA Founder Shirley Spork, LPGA Pioneers Nancy Lopez, Sally Little, and Mary Mills, and the two Sandy LaBauve Spirit Award winners can enjoy the tournament.