The Grand Rapids Women's Golf Association (GRWGA) was started for the love of golf, friendly competition and comradery by Judy Kamis, Marcie Palmer and Sue Westphall—three entrepreneurs.
The association has even extended its reach with its annual West Michigan Women's Cup, a friendly competitive event started in 2020 with the Kalamazoo Women's Golf Association. Now in its third season with over 140 members, we sat down with Kamis, Palmer and Westphall to learn more.
How did the association get started?
In the spring of 2018, a friend invited a friend, who asked another friend to play golf at a long-standing Grand Rapids golf course. We enjoyed the camaraderie and the golf, so we decided to meet up to play each week. One of us always invited another new friend to join. New friendships and golf partners emerged, and our golf games improved. There was a growing informal network of women who wanted to meet new friends with a common interest in golf and play more often at other courses in the area in a variety of formats.
The goal for the 2019 inaugural season was to have 50 members. The association was quickly embraced and attracted 130 members.
Talk about the current goal of the association and how it brings women of all ages—and golf abilities—together.
We knew the earlier and more often women played golf in the right environment—with encouragement and shared knowledge of the game, at premier courses—their game would be enhanced.
Our goals are to provide opportunity and nurture a community of women amateur golfers who are working to enhance their golfing experience and game. We encourage friendly, competitive golf and social opportunities. The association is open to women age 21 and up, allowing members to golf with women of various ages with a variety of life, career and golf experiences.
We've chosen a relatively generous handicap maximum (48 or an average score of 122 for 18 holes), which sets clear expectations about the events and golf skill needed to play and enjoy GRWGA events. We provide educational and instructional opportunities to members and offer golf lesson referrals with West Michigan's finest golf professionals, connecting women with training and resources to improve their game.
How has the association grown since its creation?
We like to think dedication to a positive environment and quality golf experiences (which brings members back and inspires them to share the opportunity with their friends) contributed to our early and continued success. Unlike golf leagues, GRWGA members can play as often or as little as they like; there's no long-term commitments or a need to find a substitute. Ladies can count on organized, quality golf experiences with a positive and fun group, at least three times a month, without work on their part.
Women interested in joining the GRWGA can learn more and sign up at grwga.com.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for West Michigan Woman.
This article originally appeared in the Jun/Jul 2021 issue of West Michigan Woman.
Photo courtesy of Grand Rapids Women's Golf Association.