Girls across south Charlotte are learning the sport of golf while building lasting friendships in a supportive, positive learning environment.
The Dana Rader Golf School at the Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge, a Golf Channel Academy, is serving as the site of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Foundation and the United States Golf Association (USGA) Girls Golf program for the fourth year in a row.
The national developmental program encourages girls 7 to 17 years old to play golf, build friendships and develop positive team-building skills and sportsmanship. The program, which offers a five-level progressive learning system starting at the green and moving back to the tee, currently has 20 participants with sessions every other Friday from 4 to 5:30 p.m. through Aug. 7.
The Dana Rader Golf School is one of 130 sites across the United States for LPGA USGA Girls Golf.
Co-Site Director Molly Tullar Braid said the program is all about empowering young girls.
“We want to give girls confidence and life skills,” she said. “We do golf instruction but we also do a wide variety of other activities. The program is open for creativity and we play a lot of games and figure out what the girls are interested in.”
Braid, a New Hampshire native, joined the Dana Rader Golf School in 2008. A former member of the Pheiffer University golf team, Braid was named a U.S. Kids Golf Honorable Mention List Top 50 Teacher in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Braid’s golf coach at Phieffer was friends with the golf school’s founder, Dana Rader, who has been recognized as one of America’s 50 Greatest Teachers by Golf Digest. She quickly jumped on the opportunity to become involved with Dana Rader Golf School.
“It’s really a unique program,” Braid said. “These girls have fun but also learn lifelong lessons. Over the last few years, we’re really seeing an interest from girls who want to be involved, especially younger girls.”
At a recent session on Earth Day, the girls met with Erik Kennelly, assistant superintendent at The Golf Club at Ballantyne and planted a pine tree at the 1st hole on the course as a part of the program’s “Five E’s of Girls Golf” – empower, enrich, engage, exercise and energize.
Braid and co-site director Julie Cole are constantly looking for new ways to incorporate the five E’s into instruction through Girls Golf.
LPGA Teaching and Club Professional Sandy LaBauve founded the Girls Golf program in 1989. What began as 10 small programs in Arizona has spread to more than 270 towns and cities across the country reaching more than 30,000 girls each year.
“Girls Golf is not only about golf but also about life skills, teamwork, bringing the girls to different events and exposing them to what golf has to offer,” Braid said.
One of those events will be attending the 2015 Symetra Classic at Raintree Country Club.
The tournament is held annually in Charlotte for professional women golfers on the Symetra Tour, which is part of the LPGA’s developmental tour. The 2015 Classic, which has been part of the Symetra Tour since 2009, will take place May 18 to 23.
Visit www.danarader.com for more information on the Dana Rader Golf School. Visit www.girlsgolf.org for more information on Girls Golf.