Ladybirds going strong for 23 years

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By Elsa Bonstein, Golf Gab

 One of the best things about women’s golf in Brunswick County is the Ladybirds golf league.

It started Jan. 21, 1991, when representatives from Brick Landing, Brierwood, Carolina Shores, Fox Squirrel (now The Lakes), Oak Island and Sea Trail met to discuss forming a ladies interclub league. 

“I was new in the area then,” said Vivian Rowe, a resident of Brick Landing. “I was president of our ladies golf association and it seemed like a great idea, an easy way of getting acquainted with women from other golf courses in Brunswick County.” 

Darla Powell is a resident of St. James and a member of its Ladybirds team. When she moved here six years ago, she joined the Ladybirds league.

“After I was part of the organization for a few years, I thought it would be fun to compile some of the history of Ladybirds and I’ve been working on it. Gloria Riley was the first president, Jodie Cole was the secretary and Irene Crain was the vice president. Ellen Parker and Vivian Rowe were part of that founding committee. Each club was asked to bring in 20 gals to get the league established.”

The original concept for the league was positively brilliant and has proved over time that it works. Each member club hosts a Ladybirds tournament during the year. Each event is a shotgun start so that everyone comes in at the same time and has lunch together. 

The field is divided into flights according to handicaps. Individuals in each flight play for best gross score, best net score and fewest putts. If there are ties, all parties win.

There are no club-to-club competitions until the last tournament of the year.

What are the prizes? A sleeve of balls for those first or second in gross or net and for fewest putts.

No pewter mug that will be in next year’s yard sale. No sets of cheap glasses. Just three useful golf balls. Wonderful. 

I reviewed the results of the last Ladybird event and found that, allowing for ties, nearly half the field won a sleeve of balls. To keep it really even, if a golfer wins in gross score, she cannot win in net score or fewest putts. That goes to the next best score in that category.  

I spoke with Shari Hodson, a member of The Lakes. Shari is an excellent golfer who won its ladies club championship in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2013. She really enjoys the Ladybirds league.

“Most interclubs are played club to club, in head to head matches. Two clubs get together and play their match on a single day. In Ladybirds, everyone competes on the same day, but they play as individuals, not in matches. And because it’s at one club, we get to see everyone on the same day.” 

“Because our tournaments are played in flights, we can compete in both gross and net. Many clubs, including ours, have a lot of net tournaments on their schedule. In the Ladybird league, both high and low handicappers compete in flights for gross and net.” 

Today there are 12 area clubs in the Ladybirds league: Brick Landing, Brierwood, Carolina National, Carolina Shores, The Lakes, Lockwood Folly, Magnolia Greens, Meadowlands/Farmstead, Oak Island, Rivers Edge, Sea Trail and St. James.

I played in the Ladybirds tournament April 9 at The Lakes and it was a boatload of fun, despite threatening skies and pre-dawn downpours. Everyone arrived at the same time, there were breakfast munchies (prepared by the host ladies golf association) and a lot of meeting and greeting among teams.

I spoke with Judy Reid, a member of the Oak Island Club and the 2014 president of Ladybirds.

“Everyone enjoys our Ladybird tournaments,” she said. “We meet new people and see old friends. We get to play at clubs all over Brunswick County. In 2014, we have 12 tournaments scheduled, one at each club starting in March and continuing until October. The final tournament is the Ladybird Cup, and that is hosted by Oak Island this year. The president of the organization always hosts the closing tournament at their club.”

In the Ladybirds Cup, the clubs play off against each other for the overall championship, again using gross and net scores (no match play). The awards luncheon is usually scheduled a week or two later to allow for a rain date. The cost of each tournament is usually between $30 and $40. Lunch is paid separately.

“It’s nice to have more clubs coming in,” Shari said. “This past year, Carolina Shores came back after being absent from the league for several years. Rivers Edge is new this year. Buzz Fuller, our representative to Ladybirds, went around and talked to some of the clubs that were not in the league, and it worked. Each year, we have newer and younger players coming in, and that’s great. It means the league will continue on.”

Linda Trent, of Oak Island, moved to Brunswick County from West Virginia. “I love the beach, the weather and the golf in this area,” she said. “Ladybird tournaments are a great way of meeting new people and getting to know them personally. Because we play in flights according to our handicap, golfers are often paired with the same gals in consecutive events.”

I have made some wonderful friends in the years that I have played in the Ladybirds league as a member of the Brick Landing team. Best of all, when Brick Landing closed four years ago, our ladies golf association continued during that time, playing each week at Brierwood and Oyster Bay. During that time period, the Ladybirds were kind enough to let us continue in the hopes that the course would reopen soon.

Thankfully, it did (two years ago), and Brick Landing continues as an active and supporting member of this organization.

So, if your LGA is not in the Ladybirds league, maybe you should consider it for next year. You’ll have a ball and you’ll make new friends.

Golf Gab groaner: My grandson was visiting me when he asked “Grandma, do you know how you and God are alike?”

I mentally polished my halo and asked, “No, how are we alike?”

“You’re both old.”

(Submitted by Jill Sullivan)


Elsa Bonsteinis a golf columnist for the Beacon. Reach her at elanbon@atmc.net. Follow her at facebook.com/elsa.bonstein.