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Celebrating 50 years of memories Twin-State Girls Championship:


By STEVE HANF A Once


upon a time, women had to get a little more cre- ative to find meaningful


t 28 years old, Maggie Watts has grown up in a world with opportunities


for females to experience the game of golf.


“I grew up in a time that wom-


en’s golf and junior girls golf was always included in the overall golf picture,” said Watts, the director of women’s golf with the Carolinas Golf Association. “But as little as 15-20 years ago, that real- ly wasn’t the case.”


competition on the golf course. That included starting your own tourna- ment, like a little event run out of Pinehurst called the Twin States Girls Championship. In a letter to prospective players


sent in 1968, then-president Paula Dawkins of the Twin-State Girls’ Junior Golf Association wrote about the group’s desire to “promote and conserve fellowship and friendly competition among the junior girl golfers who reside in North or South Carolina.” The letter went on to add that, during a planning meeting for the upcoming tournament, their photo was taken for “The Junior Golfer Magazine.” Dawkins wrote that this was a small matter, maybe, but it “reminded us that, although we may be the only junior girls interested in golf at our home clubs, there are many junior golfers in the nation.” Gems like these letters and many


other priceless memories are being discovered as the CGA prepares


to celebrate the 50th anniver- sary of the Twin States Girls Championship. Watts is in charge of the tour- nament, but it has been former director Vicki DiSantis who has fueled the trip down mem- ory lane and gotten


a variety


of former champions to come back for


the festivities. “We wanted


to celebrate because


Former Twin States Champion Brandi Jackson went on to a career on the LPGA Tour. Now she helps junior golfers negotiate the college recruiting process.


28 TRIAD GOLF TODAY • JULY 2016


it’s a big deal. So many golf tournaments don’t make it to 50 years,” Watts said. “A lot of the credit will and should go to Vicki DiSantis, who has done so much


for junior golf in North Carolina and South Carolina. I feel pretty confident in saying without Vicki around it probably would not have been made into the really great event that we’re going to have.” The 50th Twin States Girls takes


Vicki DiSantis


place June 28-29 at The Windermere Club in Blythewood, S.C. The day before, the practice round will include this year’s participants as well as former champions who wish to play. That night, a special banquet will celebrate the 50-year history of the event. The keynote speaker will be


Debby Pinnell, who is coming all the way from San Antonio, Texas, to help celebrate the milestone. The former Debby Rhodes, from North Wilkesboro, won the first three Twin States from 1967-69 on her way to college golf and an eight-year LPGA career. “I was honored that I was asked


to speak,” Pinnell said. “I want to inspire the young girls who are play- ing golf now and keep them in the game. I would have just loved living in this age that they’re living in, with all these opportunities to compete.” Pinnell was a three-sport star


who enjoyed golf as her “summer sport.” She remembered getting bird- ies on three of her first four holes in the first tournament, then surviving


the excitement of the hot start – on a blazing hot day on Pinehurst No. 1 – to win what used to be a one-day event.


Pinnell and DiSantis actually


knew each other from school – they both graduated from Wilkes Central – but were not close and did not have any junior golf experiences together: DiSantis didn’t start playing golf until after meeting her husband, but enjoyed learning of the connection with Rhodes when researching the tournament’s history. While many credit DiSantis


with keeping alive the tournament, DiSantis praised the work of former tournament director Barbara Kuhn “when some people wanted the Twin States and junior girls to go away.” Kuhn recruited DiSantis to begin helping with the Twin States as a scorer, then she started running the tournament in 2001. During this explosive era of


growth in junior golf, DiSantis saw participation reach a point that more than 100 girls entered the 2006 event. That’s when she realized, “I can’t run these tournaments out of the little office in my house,” and turned things over to the CGA. While no longer presiding over the events, DiSantis still attends them.


Continued on page 30 www.triadgolf.com


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