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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Women's League enjoys puttering around

Friday, May 25, 2012

A top "flight" group. For over 50 years the Monett Ladies Golf League has been a fixture at Windmill Ridge Golf Course. Members of the League pictured are pictured above. From left, are: Dixie Latshaw, Winnie Strong, Linda Esparrago, Lita Cruz and Janie Bates. [Times Photo by Jared Lankford]
Every Tuesday morning from May to September at 8:30 a.m., as most people are settling into their desks at work, an extraordinary group of Monett area women continue an organizational tradition at Windmill Ridge Golf Course.

For over 50 years the Monett Ladies Golf League has played at the local course providing a source of entertainment, social interaction and bragging rights for the League's members.

"I started playing with the Ladies League in 1974," said Linda Esparrago. "I always used to play golf with my husband and enjoyed the sport. I was asked to join the League and I have been playing ever since."

Great drive. Janie Bates, a member of the Monett Ladies Golf League hit a perfect tee shot during Tuesday's round at Monett's Windmill Ridge Golf Course. [Times Photo by Jared Lankford]
Esparrago also stated that she broke the ethic barrier, by being the first golfer from the Philippines to join the league.

"We were very competitive when I joined," said Esparrago. "It wasn't uncommon for 20 or more members to compete in our weekly matches."

Over the years the League's membership has slowly dwindled due to members passing away, moving, or simply being unable to participate. Those obstacles however, have not dampened the playing zeal and fervor the members have developed for the game.

"It's hard to get new girls to play because so many work now," said Esparrago. "That's okay. We still have fun on the course and enjoy ourselves."

For most of the members, golfing provides the social interaction that individuals need from time to time. Just like those who play checkers at the barbershops or assemble in local diners to drink coffee every morning.

"I like hanging out with the girls," said Lita Cruz league president. "I used to bowl a lot until developing carpel tunnel. Linda (Esparrago) wanted me to come and play golf. I was afraid of being in the sun for that long. Linda was persistent and so I decided to give golf a shot.

"I soon discovered that I could hit the ball," continued Cruz. "When you hit a good golf shot, it makes you want to come back."

While on the course, the members of the ladies league are just as comfortable discussing everyday life and its complexities as they are the strategy of how to pitch out of the rough, chip up onto the green and hit a putt to save par.

The league has held tournaments in the past with as many as 90 golfers participating.

The tournaments have had to be postponed the last two years as problems with the greens at the course were addressed.

However, the talk of restarting the annual tournament for next year is a real possibility as Mike Knight and his staff have done a wonderful job reviving the course to its prominence as one of the area's premier courses.

The league provides something unique to all its members.

For the competitors, there are "A" and a "B" flights which factor in handicaps to determine winners, for the boaster, it provides closest to the pin bragging rights on holes #3 and #17, and for the average weekly golfer, it provides a reason to get out of house.

"I have always loved the outdoors," said Janie Bates, a League member since 1997. "I retired from United Missouri Bank after 38 years and had played a little golf during those years with my husband. The Women's League provided me an opportunity to be outside and the chance to be with my friends."

For some people the sport of golf has the perception of being a "men's only club."

"They're crazy," said Cruz. "There are women playing golf who can beat them. They should not think that."

The league's annual dues are $15 and any woman, regardless of age is welcome to join.

For more information call 235-6076.

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