The organization is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. Association operations are administered by four full-time staff members, one part-time staff member, and one USGA P.J. Boatwright, Jr. intern. Nearly 100 women volunteer for the CWGA serving on various standing committees.
The CWGA's mission is accomplished through the many activities that it organizes and runs. The CWGA is able to conduct these different activities due to the help of the numerous volunteers that serve on the board of directors and/or committees. The committees include Course Rating and Handicapping, Junior Golf, Long Range Planning, Membership, Public Relations, Rules, Site Location, and Tournament.
The CWGA is comprised of nearly 19,000 individual members. These individual members belong to member clubs that, in turn, conduct their club events at member facilities. There are currently about 265 CWGA member clubs (private, public, resort, military, non-real estate). (Non-real estate clubs do not typically have a "home" course.)
Upon request of the CWGA's first president, Mrs. Hemming, women's par was established for the association in April 1916.The following criteria was suggested by the Women's Western Golf Association: any hole under 150 yards, par 3; 150 to 285 yards, par 4; 285 to 420 yards, par 5; 420 to 550 yards, par 6; over 550 yards, par 7.
In September 1916, the first CWGA championship was played at Colorado Springs Golf Club. Dressed in mid-calf skirts, belted hip-length sweaters or jackets, and a variety of millinery creations, 28 women journeyed to Colorado Springs to compete in this event. Mrs. R.H. Douglass of Lakewood was Medalist with a 97, while Mrs. M.A. McLaughlin, also of Lakewood, holds the distinct honor of being our very first State Match Play Champion. At this tournament, it was thought that husbands or sweethearts would enjoy a little outing as well as a chance to gallery the matches. This practice was soon discontinued...the large gallery made the players too nervous and bothered.
These early years were during World War I and the war effort was a worthy cause for association revenues. The tournament entry fee for the Second Annual CWGA Championship was $2 per player. The total revenue from the tournament was $84 and the entire sum was handed over to the Mountain Division of the National Red Cross. During World War II, the CWGA gave Defense Bonds and Stamps as trophies in the State Tournament. A transportation committee was formed at each club for its members participating in the tournament in order to conserve tires and gasoline.
While the CWGA has had its share of standout tournament performers, it has always been equally concerned about making its championships fun and fair for everyone. From 1921-1923, the CWGA adopted a unique method of payment in the annual Championship. The tournament entry fee was "one-cent a stroke for the qualifying round, but not to exceed one dollar and a half" (Oh! The Good Old Days!). The Women's Western Golf Association lowered par when the larger and lighter golf ball became official in 1931, and the CWGA complied. Thus, par 7's no longer existed. The lowest 16 qualifiers were, and still are, the Championship Flight in the Match Play Tournament. At a 1921 meeting, it was "duly moved" to set a Solace Flight for the defeated eight and "to have as many flights of eight as would be necessary so that all who entered would qualify." Another decision provided that everyone play every day during the tournament, so a Special Consolation Flight of 18 holes (with handicap) was declared.
Through 1959, the CWGA conducted only one annual State Championship and most of the business meetings revolved around planning this event. At the 1945 CWGA Annual Meeting, there was a great deal of discussion regarding the abolition of the Stymie Rule. At that time, Match Play was conducted by playing stymies. This meant that if a ball blocked the line of a putt and was more than six inches from an opponent's ball or the hole, the ball could not be marked and the player would have to "negotiate" the stymie. Negotiating the stymie meant either chipping over the opponent's ball or curving around it. The shot required a great deal of skill and one's ability to negotiate a stymie often was the difference in a match. The association voted to abolish this inconvenient rule; the USGA followed suit five years later.
From the beginning, tournament planning and administration encompassed many hours of hard work by countless volunteers and board members. In 1959, the first State Match Play Championship for girls was conducted. The first State Best Ball Championship was held in 1967 and was so popular that another was added to the tournament schedule in 1975. Both Best Ball tournaments are still enthusiastically supported today. In 1980, the CWGA adopted the Denver Women's Invitational Golf Tournament and renamed it the CWGA Stroke Play Championship. In 1983, the first Senior Stroke Play Championship was contested. This year, the CWGA will conduct eleven State Championships, and in so doing, will provide competitive opportunities for all age groups and abilities.
Through the years the association has developed and evolved into a full service golf association. This can be attributed to the tireless work, dedication and long-range planning of numerous individuals. The CWGA continues to be a volunteer-based organization governed by a 20-member Board of Directors which is elected by the member clubs. Three standing committees assist the board: Course Rating and Handicap, Rules, and Tournament.
The Course Rating and Handicap Committee was formed in 1956. This committee began with the lowest handicapper from each member club. In 1980, the Rules Committee was established. The duties of this six-member committee included officiating at all CWGA tournaments and conducting rules seminars. To further assist with administering successful championships, the Tournament Committee was established in 1994. Today, more than 75 volunteers statewide serve as board and committee members and are committed to the growth of women's golf in Colorado.
In the late 1980's, the association had grown enough to require a full-time employee to facilitate the volume of business in the office. Today, four full-time staff members and one part-time staff member assist the board and standing committees, and a summer intern is annually funded by the USGA. The office staff reports directly to the Board of Directors. The staff handles all of the day-to-day affairs of the association, keeping busy year-round delivering important services to the women golfers of Colorado. The staff also represents the CWGA at various local and national conferences and seminars.
The CWGA is an association of member clubs and individuals. In addition to the five founding clubs, on record as early joiners to the CWGA were The Broadmoor GC, Ft. Collins CC, Cherry Hills CC, Boulder CC, Wellshire GC, and Patty Jewett GC.
Since 1916, the growth of the association has been dramatic, and the CWGA has done its best to serve and respond to its changing and growing membership. Over the past six years alone, the CWGA has grown steadily by approximately 500 individual members per year. Today the CWGA is made up of approximately 265 member clubs, encompassing almost 19,000 women golfers.
As the CWGA enters into the next millennium and its 95th year of existence, the original goals and objectives established in 1916 by that special group of eight women are still in force today and the association as a whole is stronger than ever. Through the commitment, support, and dedication of the volunteers, staff members, member clubs, and tournament players, the CWGA has become the nation's leading women's golf association.
Information for this article was taken from historical documents at the CWGA office.
*Interlachen GC: About 9-Holes of the current Willis Case GC was once part of Interlachen GC. The rest of the former golf course is now a shopping center.