Fort Lauderdale Country Club Is The City’s Hidden Gem For Women Golfers
The club itself turns 92 years old this year, and many Fort Lauderdale residents may not even know it exists. But for those who find it, it’s like a hole-in-one.
Located in Plantation, Fort Lauderdale Country Club is a place to golf, but more than that, it is a place to gather. A place to have your voice heard. It’s a place for women to feel empowered.
It’s home to the Fort Lauderdale Country Club Women’s Golf Association (WGA), one of the largest WGA’s in Broward County. Tuesdays are Ladies Day at the club, where organized golf games of various formats set up by the professional staff take place.
When talking to Tamara Pope and Debbie Day, the current and past president of the WGA, respectfully, it’s easy to pick up on their close friendship. You can tell by the way they laugh around each other and finish each other’s sentences.
“My husband and I came here in 2004, and found it to be a wonderful community right off the bat,” Pope says.
When asked what she has gotten through her time with WGA, besides improving her golf swing, Pope responds, “Friendships for me. A lot of friendships, and new people I’ve met.”
The WGA has over 135 active members and is social to its core, as most women enjoy lunch together in the upstairs dining room after games on Tuesdays. The country club also has a nine-hole women's group with over 50 members.
Connections between members are a priority of the organization, and the setup of games allows members to feel comfortable going to play when they don’t necessarily have a foursome planned on their own.
“The good thing is on the last Tuesday of the month we have what we call pairings,” Day says. “The week before, you sign your name up on the sheet and then when you get here that Tuesday the pro shop has paired different people together by handicaps.”
But besides pairings by the pro shop once a month, members are also able to join games weekly, just by adding their names to a sign-up sheet.
“I think the best thing about the WGA here is you can almost always get a game,” Pope says. “There’s always openings on that sheet and I’ve heard more comments about how members feel comfortable that they don’t have to have their foursome every week lined up.”
After a member signs up for a game, the club’s pro shop takes care of the rest, including game formats, scorecards and tee times. The club and WGA also strictly follow the handicap system.
“That’s the good thing about golf. A 14-handicap can play with a 36-handicap and they can both be competitive because that handicap evens it out,” Day says. She went on to explain that even though the handicaps may seem vastly different, it is all in the details, and one is not necessarily better than the other. The 14-handicap may be great at drives, but not so great at putting or chipping, like a 36-handicap may be.
“The handicap system is what makes it even; it’s equitable for everyone,” Pope says. “It’s based on posting all of your scores and it’s a good system. The club puts a lot of thought into it.”
The country club is a place to feel competitive, improve on one’s golfing skills and play on two championship greens—something to brag about, since many other golf clubs in the area only have one course. It is also a place to feel connected to others.
Both Pope and Day agree that members feel like they each have an important voice within the organization, and that their opinions and concerns are always heard.
“Women, as well as other members who have a question, can go to the people on the club’s board,” Day says. “If the WGA women have a question, they can go to the WGA president and say, ‘Hey, why are we doing this on Tuesdays? Why aren’t we doing this?’ That way, there’s a voice to go to.”
Mark VanDyck, director of golf, takes members’ inputs into consideration when planning golf tournaments, events and the overall operations of the club.
“We have a big voice, and Mark is on it,” Pope says. “If we mention something, he says, ‘We can try it, Tamara.’ He’ll try anything to get more people out here to support the club and have a good lifestyle.”
“I have gotten a lot more involved in charities and charity work through this club,” Day says.
Many of the members are part of philanthropic groups and nonprofits outside of the WGA, encouraging other members to give to their charities, attend events and donate their time.
The WGA at Fort Lauderdale Country Club has a long tradition of holding tournaments with proceeds benefiting a chosen cause.
“We used to do a breast cancer tournament once a year, then one of our member’s daughter developed ovarian cancer,” Day says. “So for the last six or seven years we’ve been doing a tournament annually for ovarian cancer.”
Pope estimates that the tournaments have raised close to $10,000 each year for ovarian cancer research.
“We also support the Junior Golf Association of Broward County,” Pope says. “It has about 300 young people, and was started by someone who was a member here at Fort Lauderdale Country Club.”
The WGA is an empowered group of women—enabled through sport, fellowship with one another and by giving back.
“This club is very welcoming from the minute you walk in,” says Pope. “They feel comfortable, like they matter. It’s wonderful. We’re from all areas, all walks of life, but we all love our golf.”
For more information about the Fort Lauderdale Country Club’s WGA, visit fortlauderdalecc.com/womensgolf
415 E. Country Club Circle, Fort Lauderdale; 954.587.4700; fortlauderdalecc.com
Photos courtesy of Fort Lauderdale Country Club
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