Hester on mission for girls golf team

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 26, 2004

[8/26/04]When Kathy Hester took the job as assistant golf pro at Clear Creek Golf Course, she was disappointed to learn that there were no girls high school golf programs in the area.

Dismay turned to shock when she found out there were none anywhere in Mississippi.

Since then, Hester has been on a mission. She’s talked to parents and young golfers, conducted clinics and lobbied officials in an effort to drum up support and interest in junior golf. Today she’ll take another big step when she petitions the Mississippi High School Activities Association to add girls golf to its lineup of high school sports.

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Currently, girls are allowed to play high school golf but must compete on boys teams.

“Once it gets started, I think it’ll really snowball,” Hester said. “Ever since I started in the golf business, it has been my mission to help junior golf. I think it’s a real important thing to do.”

So does MHSAA executive director Ennis Proctor. He said the idea of adding girls golf has been discussed several times over the years, but there has never been a serious push for it.

“Most states do have girls golf, and Mississippi probably needs it, too. If we have enough interest, we’ll probably offer it,” Proctor said, adding that Hester’s efforts have helped push the process along. “It’s always good to have somebody like her that’s an expert that has come forward to help with it.”

After Hester along with Girls Golf Club of Jackson officials Kathy Kelley and Mary Duvall, and Mississippi Golf Association director Margo Coleman makes her presentation this morning, the MHSAA board of directors will survey its members to gauge interest in adding the sport.

If enough schools respond favorably, it will be added to those schools’ offerings on a trial basis with smaller teams three or four girls per team instead of the usual five.

Initially, Proctor said, all schools would compete in one classification. It’s the same way soccer and fast-pitch softball started before being adopted by a large number of schools across the state.

“If we get enough responses, say 25 percent, maybe 30 or 40 schools, we’d play as an independent with a championship and one classification,” Proctor said. “If everything grows and schools are interested in it, we’ll go to two or three classifications and eventually to four or five.”

Vicksburg Warren athletic director Lum Wright said once the MHSAA made its decision, his school district would survey its own students to gauge interest. Like the statewide survey, if there’s enough interest and the sport is adopted by the MHSAA, it could be added to the district’s offerings.

Until the sport is adopted, Hester will continue to beat the bushes and garner support. She knows that the payoff at the end is worth all the hard work.

“The golf business is absolutely wide open for females that want to get into the golf business,” Hester said. “If a girl can shoot 85 by the time she’s a senior, she can just about get a scholarship. That’s not real hard to do.”