Local golf group joining LPGA organization

After 23-plus years working television news, Nicole Hahn started a new career about 14 months ago as an IPFW public relations specialist. Attempting to reach out, she attended a WOWnet networking group meeting and met Lori Stinson.

Hahn should have immediately known she was in trouble.

One of the area’s top women’s golfers for the last three decades, Stinson is an apostle for the sport, always looking for new converts. Hahn, 46, owns a set of clubs but had only played five or six times in her life and none in recent memory.

“She was talking about golf and I told her how the few times I played I loved it but I didn’t have time,” said Hahn, the mother of two teenagers. “I’m not good, there’s no way. She said it’s not just about that, though.”

Except Stinson had a plan, as always. Then years ago she was one of the inaugural members of the Executive Women’s Golf Association (EWGA) local chapter, which basically serves as a golf group but also a networking group for local businesswomen. The goals are to get as many women as possible to play and also develop connections. Players can choose either stroke play or a scramble format Wednesdays at Autumn Ridge or Thursdays at Chestnut Hills throughout the summer.

“When you talk about the organization, you emphasize the social aspect,” Stinson said. “A way a lot of people start in the group is similar in that they haven’t played in a while and want to get back into it but don’t know where to go.”

By emphasizing the social aspect of the group, Stinson tugged on Hahn’s arm long enough to convince her to give playing the scramble event a try.

“She had to twist it pretty hard because I don’t play well and I felt really intimidated,” Hahn said. “It looked like all these women were pretty good golfers and I’m thinking I’m not sure I fit in here. Even after I joined I thought, we’ll see how this goes. It was so relaxed and just about meeting people. I was having a couple of beers, and I missed the ball but nobody said a thing.”

Now Hahn is fully invested and serves as the member services director, while Stinson is the president as EWGA celebrates its 10th anniversary. They recently joined with the Ladies Professional Golf Association’s Women Who Play organization which gives them another shot of credibility. With more than 100 members, the local group is hoping the keep encouraging more women to give them and the game a try.

The season starts Saturday with a spring kickoff at Pine Valley Country Club from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with two-time LPGA major winner Jane Geddes as the keynote speaker. It costs $155 to join for the season, but $135 at the kickoff. The group, which uses the website http://www.myewga.com/fortwayneinchapter/home, also tries to help the community, supporting the Girl Scouts and the IPFW women’s golf team.

“We’re competitive but only if you want to be competitive,” said club Marketing Director Jean Hershberger. “The biggest part about the league is we get women to come and learn how to play golf and all year round we do things together like go out to dinner at least once a month.”

And the group members will help with golf tips, but only if asked. There are also clinics held throughout the summer.

As for Hahn’s game?

“I have definitely improved, but I’m still not very good,” she said. “I can tell that the more I golf, the better I get.”

But she’s definitely having fun on and off the course with the group.