Paine College golf programs looking at a 2022 start as search begins for coaches
Augusta National Golf Club announced in November it would be funding a women’s golf program at Paine College and endowing two (...)
Augusta National Golf Club announced in November it would be funding a women’s golf program at Paine College and endowing two student-athletes with scholarships in honor of Lee Elder, the first African-American to compete in a Masters Tournament. Elder knows there’s much work ahead but has high hopes for the endeavor.
“It’s very important for the program to get started and get going because there’s so much that can come from it,” Elder said as he was being honored with an honorary doctoral degree from Paine. “The only way that you can get something to come from it and to have it be a part of is the fact that you have to work at it.”
Paine announced March 31 it would be joining the National Christian College Athletic Association, joining the DI South Region. With that leaving a short turnaround for a golf season, Dr. Cheryl Evans Jones, Paine president, said the college is aiming for a fall 2022 start for its golf programs.
“The golf season of the NCCAA begins in early fall,” she said. “We thought it best to allow summer and fall 2021 for the hiring of coaches and recruitment of student-athletes to play golf.”
While recruiting has yet to begin, that also means recipients for the scholarships, one on the men’s team and one on the women’s, have yet to be identified.
The men’s program has had success in the past, but hasn’t competed since the 2018-2019 academic year. The women’s program is starting from scratch and both need coaches. Jones added they hope to have coaches in place for both teams by July 1.
Many Richmond County high school programs have been dealing with low participation numbers, due to COVID and other circumstances. Cross Creek Coach David Scouten hopes Augusta National investing in Paine golf has a positive impact on high school golf in the area.
“I hope the effect is that it drives participation rates up for boys and especially girls,” he said. “Augusta National knows how to promote the game of golf and I hope their involvement can drive participation rates up in my school’s area. Paine College would be attractive for golfers that might not have opportunities at big time golf programs. It doesn’t matter where you play college golf, it matters what you do with the opportunity.”