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How I Have Benefited from the IRGF

“Joining the IRGF as a youngster was the most pivotal moment in my golf career because it was the reason I became passionate about the sport and chose to pursue golf seriously. Without the IRGF, I would never have tapped into my true golf potential. The IRGF has benefitted my golf career and my life as a whole in so many ways, but those that stand out to me the most are community, opportunity, and personal growth.

First I will describe the community that I gained through the IRGF. My biggest struggle with playing golf at a young age was the unfortunate lack of other young female golfers. This made it very hard for me to be motivated to practice golf because it wasn’t “fun” without friends to play with. It wasn’t until I joined the IRGF that I truly gained a passion for golf because I finally had a group of other young girls to play with! This was an indescribable turning point because I finally felt that I had a community of young golfers to play and practice with, and it spurred me on to continue playing golf when I likely would have quit otherwise. Another aspect of the community that the IRGF gave me is the coaches and players that became important connections in my life. Every single IRGF coach, volunteer, and administrator was kind and encouraging throughout my time with IRGF, and this was a wonderful confidence boost for my young self. Each coach taught me something invaluable about golf and also about life, and those lessons have stuck with me throughout every challenge I’ve faced in my life. The other students in IRGF became some of my best friends, fiercest (friendly) competitors, and favorite golf teammates, many of whom I keep in contact with to this day even though we are “all grown up.” The IRGF has created a wonderfully supportive, fun community that in my case and many others, can be the sole reason that a young golfer chooses to pursue golf and harness their true potential.

Secondly, opportunity: the IRGF opened countless doors for me in my golf career and in my life. Through IRGF practices and tournaments, I was given access to play amazing local golf courses, most of which are private so I could never have played them without the IRGF. Playing these difficult courses in a tournament format was the best preparation for high school and college golf. Through IRGF tournaments and practices, I learned that the best golf game improvements don’t happen on the driving range, but rather on the course. These practices also gave me the time I needed in order to learn the rules of golf, because as any golfer can understand, the rules take years to master and the best way to learn them is through practice in real-life situations on the course. The referees and coaches in IRGF helped me learn the rules in a safe environment as I grew and made mistakes. In addition to golf practice and tournament opportunities, the IRGF also gave me numerous opportunities to give back to my community once I became an older member. I absolutely loved to help organize events, volunteer at events for the younger kids, and assist in snag golf trainings! These volunteer opportunities gave me a sense of purpose and an understanding that I could give back to the IRGF and the community, and maybe encourage a few young golfers along their journey just as I was encouraged in mine. Furthermore, the IRGF even helped me to go to college to play golf! I received a generous scholarship from IRGF which helped to cover my college
fees and allow me the freedom to choose a school where I could continue to play golf on a D3 college team. To top it off, I even credit the IRGF with my college acceptances- I wrote all of my application essays on the topic of “the numerous lessons I’ve learned from playing golf,” and Mr. Roger Van Dyke of IRGF wrote me a fantastic letter of recommendation to use in all of my applications. I am forever grateful to IRGF for all of the opportunities that the organization has given me over the years, and I only hope that it will be able to continue opening numerous doors for other young golfers like it has done for me.

Lastly, the IRGF taught me numerous personal growth lessons that have truly carried me throughout my personal
life and career. Some of the most important ones are respect and teamwork. Respect and teamwork are emphasized for the young golfers in the IRGF because the IRGF coaches stress the importance of post-game handshakes, a cooperative environment, and showing respect to other people at all times. These are important skills that set a young adult up for success on the course and in real life. I can’t tell you how many times I have been praised by my bosses and professors for my respectfulness and ability to work well in a team.

These qualities truly stand out in today’s world. They have helped my career progress quickly through college and after graduating, and the IRGF was instrumental in helping me develop these qualities at a young age. Through community, opportunity, personal growth, and so much more, the IRGF has done more for my golf game and my life than I can ever repay. I hope to see this organization flourish to benefit countless more young golfers in the many years to come.”

By Cassidy Stepanek (2014)