Chip ‘n’ Putt Women’s Golf League wraps up anniversary year

60 years and still swinging

BAZETTA —

Sixty years ago, the average cost of a new house was $12,700. A gallon of gas cost 25 cents. And the Chip ‘n’ Putt Women’s Golf League teed off in Trumbull County.

Founded by Mary Lou Howell and eight other women, Chip ‘n’ Putt provided “an opportunity for women of family, not necessarily working women at the time, to play golf and socialize,” Kris Prince, past league chair, said.

Today, the women in Chip ‘n’ Putt include medical professionals, teachers, lawyers, sales representatives, business professionals and retirees.

Currently, there are 55 active members and four inactive ones ranging in age from their late 40s to 92, said Prince, who is 67. Membership is capped at 65 ladies. There have never been less than 50. A waiting list to get in existed until 2010, she said.

Until 1966, the ladies played at Eastwood Golf Course.

“Eastwood Golf Course had watered fairways. But they did not have watered greens. Their greens were as good as any you would find anywhere. But those fairways, they left a lot to be desired,” said Ann Guarnieri, 90, who joined the league in 1959.

Today, they play nine holes every Thursday May through September at Tamer Win Golf and Country Club, 2020 Niles Cortland Road NE, Bazetta.

Jan Goist, 78, said, “In the ’70s, my girlfriend, Peg Brock, and I decided that we would go out and practice before the league started. We were brand new golfers. We had just taken lessons at the YMCA. We were joining Chip ‘n’ Putt.

“The two of us went out on the course. At that time, it was Avalon South. We had two guys behind us. One hole they brought me my sun glasses. On another, they brought our score card. We get to hole No. 5, we hit our balls, we putt out, the guys were still behind us. We sit down, spread our food out and we have lunch. Imagine the looks those guys gave us,” Goist said.

Later at hole No. 8, Jan thought she had hit her ball onto the green. She went to get it. “I looked up at the green and there were four guys putting.”

She had hit the ball in the wrong direction. She was on the No. 1 green.

“That’s how I got started in the league. Our husbands were appalled,” Goist said.

“There were rules that you couldn’t get into Chip ‘n’ Putt unless you had three years of golfing experience,” said Jean Frye, 92, who joined in 1959, a year after the league was founded. “To stay in the league, you had to play at least 10 times.”

In 1978, during a tournament, two members had a hole-in-one on the same day, on the same hole.

Chip ‘n’ Putt has been known for being a competitive league. You also have to be sponsored to get in.

“My mother was an active member. She would not let me join till I had three years’ experience,” Prince said. “She made sure I knew all the rules and the bylaws. When she told me she nominated me, I was terrified of that tough league.”

With a strict adherence to rules and policy, Chip ‘n’ Putt does not tolerate cheating of any kind.

“I was once assigned to go and play with a certain person who we had trouble counting her strokes,” said Guarnieri.

“I was called out once,” said Prince. “This lady took it all the way into the clubhouse. I held my ground. And I was right.”

Unlike when men golf, the league also does not have side wagers on every hole.

“The organization has changed throughout the years. When I came in, the league was very competitive,” said Patty Ciminero, 75. She joined in 1975 with the sponsorship of her aunt. “Now, it has become what Jean and Ann started, to make it social. We laugh a lot.”

The women get together outside of golf also. Several lifetime friendships are in this organization.

To keep it fun and interesting, the season had several themes. There was Par-Tee Time, Queen of the Green, The Heart of Golf, Golf Ahoy and Diamond in the Rough. They had zany golf games like three blind putters, four-lady waltz, Friendship Day, and Old Pal Tournament. They also visit another golf course every season.

Celebrating 60 years of existence, Chip ‘n’ Putt held a Diamond Celebration July 19 at the Chophouse restaurant. The luncheon honored members and past chairpersons. Eight past chairs who are no longer active in the organization showed up for the event.

“That was really inspiring to us all,” Prince said. “It was a grand time to share stories, memories, and to be thankful for what golf has done for our wellbeing and our enduring friendships.”

“We had to change our bylaws to accommodate the working mother. We relaxed the rules. We don’t have a waiting list anymore. I was a teacher. I couldn’t golf in May and September,” Prince said.

Now correspondence and tee times are done through a website.

Besides Eastwood Golf Course, Chip ‘n’ Putt has had Old Avalon, Avalon Lakes, Candywood, and Tamer Win as its home course.

“I have no bad memories,” Frye said. “I look forward to Thursdays.”

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