Lady golfers swinging into new year

Corrina Stailing tees off in 2020 on hole 11 at Tanasi Golf Course.

Now that warmer temperatures are settling in and spring season has arrived, women golfers in Tellico Village are taking full advantage of hitting the links and enjoying friendly camaraderie.

“Just this year, and we haven’t really even started our season yet, but we have 15 new members,” Kip Probst, Tellico Village Ladies Golf Association 9 Hole League president, said. “When the (Ladies Professional Golf Association) comes — and they didn’t come last year because of COVID — but in the previous years the LPGA comes and they put on a free clinic. They’re talking about how this is the highest concentration of women golfers that they are aware of. It’s not just the leagues, but it’s the women who aren’t in leagues and are just golfing on a regular basis, too. We probably have over 450 women in the three leagues, and I know a whole bunch of women that play golf all the time and aren’t in a league.”

Although the COVID-19 pandemic shut down several organizations and clubs last year, many in the community turned to golf as an escape.

Members of the TVLGA-9 and TVLGA-18 leagues continued to play throughout the year.

“The league has been around since 1988 and is probably the longest group we have here, and we have over 100 members now,” Ann Silvis, TVLGA-18 president, said. “Our normal year includes what we call three or four major tournaments, like an invitational and a league championship, and last year we pretty much didn’t do any of that because of the pandemic. We weren’t able to have shotgun starts, we had to go with tee times and things like that. It was a different year for us, but now it’s back to a normal year for us.”

The TVLGA-9 league officially started the year March 23 with an orientation meeting at First Baptist Church in Tellico Village, followed by the 2021 Opening Scramble on Tuesday after The Connection presstime.

“From last year, we probably had more than half the league that did not come more than once or twice,” Probst said. “The other half were out there golfing, but we actually didn’t start our season until June 1. They were probably only 50% attended, but this year we had our welcome coffee and we probably had over 70 women attend our welcome coffee. We’re expecting a much bigger season this year, and we’re planning on just having a regular season. We’ll go all the way through November with no special accommodations, but we are having some of our luncheons outside at the Toqua pavilion or Kahite patio.”

The TVLGA-18 league will hold the 2021 Opening Scramble at 9 a.m. April 6 at The Links at Kahite, with a luncheon to follow. The league will return to shotgun starts rather than tee times.

Silvis is encouraged by the number of women coming back out to play. But she is especially excited about the addition of several newcomers.

“I’m seeing and hearing no hesitation at all, and there was some serious enthusiasm last year just to get out and play,” Silvis said. “Even though the league wasn’t able to function as normal with the lack of tournaments and things like that, so this year everybody is more enthusiastic because we can get together. That’s probably the biggest change is that instead of tee times, now everybody’s going to be showing up at the same time, which increases the opportunity for socialization, everybody finishes at the same time and if people want to stay and have lunch then they can do that.”

Both leagues are planning to hold weekly play dates, golf tournaments and fundraisers for several local service organizations, including Our PLACE and Iva’s Place in Lenoir City.

“In August we have a charity tournament that we call Give Back Day, and whoever is in charge of the tournament chooses the charity that they’re going to support,” Silvis said. “This year the charity is going to be Our PLACE, which is the facility at the south end of the Village that’s going to be built for people who have Alzheimer’s.”

For more information about TVLGA-9, visit online at https://tvlga9.org/. For more information about TVLGA-18, visit online at https://tvlga18.com/.