Words by Judd Spicer
A vital, longtime lifeblood of junior generosity comes by way of some of SoCal’s most seasoned golfers.
Founded in 1930, the Seniors Golf Association of Southern California (SGASC) tracks among the SCGA Junior Golf Foundation foremost benefactors. Donating to the Foundation for over 35 years, in 2022 alone, SGASC bestowed nearly $40,000 in funds.
“The SGASC and the SCGA have had a wonderful relationship for many years,” says Kathy Gustafson, whom, at the close of 2020, retired after a 33-year career as the SGASC’s executive director. “The SGASC’s annual solicitation drive in support of the SCGA Junior Golf Foundation has been a successful and ongoing program with our membership. Our members have all grown up playing golf and supporting their children and grandchildren in the game and strongly believe in the Foundation’s opportunities provided for youth in golf. Therefore, our association has not looked for other avenues in which to lend its financial support.”
The organization’s leadership has seen no cease in support since the passing of the executive baton.
“Our members understand what a great organization the SCGA Junior Golf Foundation is and how these funds can help grow the game and bring golf to so many different people,” says Katie McMullen, the SGASC’s executive director since 2021.
Across better than three decades with the SGASC, Gustafson could readily sense that the donations were having a tangible influence.
“The letters and emails that were written and sent to the Foundation and published in the solicitation materials were enough for me to know the impact the program was making in the kids’ lives,” she says. “As they say, ‘The proof is in the pudding,’ but in the case with SCGA Junior, ‘The proof is in the putting.’”
The SGASC’s generosity is as vibrant as its unique history. With roots dating back to 1922, the Association’s pre-curser debuted the first known domestic tournament for players 50 and older, known as the “Invitation Tournament for Senior Golfers,” held at the former Midwick CC in Alhambra. Eight years later, amid nine historic SoCal clubs and with 150 initial members, the Seniors Golf Association of Southern California was officially formed.
Today, swinging with a social mission of “Golf and Good Fellowship,” the association plays near-monthly events across its 10 member clubs, with each sporting 17 active SGASC members (55-years and older); in addition, each SGASC club has its stable of emeritus members. To promote its longtime mission of sociability, event pairings are always arranged with SGASC members playing alongside members of clubs outside their own.
Reading like a roster of SCGA course lore, SGASC member clubs include: Hillcrest CC; Brentwood CC; Wilshire CC; Lakeside CC; San Gabriel CC; Virginia CC; Annandale Golf Club; Oakmont CC; Hacienda GC; and El Caballero CC.
From storied SoCal golf history, new chapters are written; with ongoing support comes continual opportunity.
“SCGA Junior provides many opportunities for kids to learn and play the game of golf, especially in the outlying areas of Los Angeles,” Gustafson says. “For children, most schools don’t have a golf program until kids reach high school, and then, not all high schools have golf programs. These kids, with the help and support of SCGA Junior, are able to learn the game at a young age and be prepared for their chance to continue participating in the sport.”
As SGASC nears a century of play, the association views in SCGA Junior the next 100 years of rounds coming from all corners of the region, narrated by a diverse range of budding talent.
“Seeing it localized, being impactful to those around us, is very positive,” concludes McMullen. “Because our geographic region is the greater L.A. area, being able to connect ourselves, to be able to contribute to an organization that is directly helping youth in the communities around us is very appealing. It’s something that we see as being a connection to the community through the game we so enjoy.”