Girls Gone Golfing

The Chicks and Sticks Program at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch

By Debbie Pepper  ::  Photography by Kelsey Grudle

The Club’s “Chicks and Sticks” program was initiated in 2012 as both an introductory ladies’ golf program for beginners and as a golf “tune-up” for those advanced beginner/intermediate players. Having started the same program at my previous club, The Club at La Costa in Southern California, I was excited to present the idea to Cordillera Ranch, hoping to have the same success introducing more ladies to the game of golf in a fun, non-threatening environment.

As a non-golfer most of my adult life and an avid tennis player, I didn’t take up golf until my 50’s and never saw myself falling in love with the game. Due to my exposure in the club industry and hosting golf teams in the annual Club Corp tournaments at Pinehurst Resort every year, I slowly became enamored and decided to take a few lessons. It didn’t take long before I couldn’t wait to get out on the range and practice. I found the game not only good for my business, but a wonderful social outlet. I fell in love with the nuances of so many spectacular golf courses that are each beautifully designed and challenging in their own way. I was hooked and realized that if I could take up the game — as a former disbeliever who thought golf was boring — then there was an opportunity for other women to forge the same path.

Initially the program was promoted as “Ladies’ Golf Happy Hour” in hopes of enticing those who were unsure or not as interested in learning golf as they were in socializing at a fun happy hour afterwards. In other words, the catch phrase “a little bit of golf and a lot of happy hour” that I have used often to recruit ladies to join the program has proven quite successful. We all understand that the game of golf can be intimidating and especially so for ladies who have never picked up a golf club before. Thus, promoting the program as a golf clinic followed by social happy hour has worked well and, in the seven years since it began, we have recruited nearly 100 ladies as part of our “Chicks and Sticks” program which is what we call it today. More importantly, a good majority of ladies who had no original intention of ever playing golf have used it as a launching pad and are now playing weekly and enjoying the game!

Sessions include a one-hour and fifteen-minute golf clinic followed by an hour or more of social happy hour afterwards. Sessions run once a week for six weeks at a time, from spring to early summer and then start back up as a fall session. We divide the ladies into two groups of beginners and advanced beginners/intermediates. Led by two golf professionals, the sessions are divided into introductory basics, golf swing, irons, long clubs/woods/drivers, short game/pitching/chipping, putting and the last session is always on-course playing a few holes. Additionally, we are not only blessed to learn to play on one of the top-rated golf courses in Texas, but we also enjoy a world-class Practice Park which includes our two-sided driving range with areas for short-game practice. Our two additional practice holes make it easy when working on more advanced teaching such as hitting approach shots or downhill or uphill lies since we are having a clinic on an actual golf hole instead of just the practice range. 

Today, just as it was in 2012, Club Members are moving in from all over and the program is the perfect vehicle to gather new and old members together in a fun setting to help them get connected and involved. Many of our original beginning ladies are now playing and joining the Nine Hole groups, and the more advanced have moved on to join the Eighteen Holers as well as our CWGA and are becoming even more involved. Our “Chicks and Sticks” program feeds into the Club’s very involved CWGA and we are all part of the growing surge of women golfers worldwide as reported in the National Golf Foundation’s 2018 Golf Industry Report. Those statistics report that women now comprise 24 percent of all golfers — an increase of more than 13 percent over the past five years.  

So, what are you waiting for? It’s spring and there’s no better time to get out and enjoy great weather, great camaraderie and give the game of golf a “swinging” chance! Try it… I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Debbie Pepper is the Director of Membership at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch. She can be reached at dpepper@cordilleraranch.com.

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