(WSPA) – Girls’ representation in the sport of golf is on the rise, and First-Tee Upstate is seeing a comparable trend in their program.

And several women are leading the charge as coaches and volunteers.

“I think that has been a driving force of building up these relationships with these kids,” said First Tee-Upstate Executive Director Michael Pius. “And they want to come back and they want to progress through our program.” 

One of those coaches is Laura Maurer, who came up through the First Tee program. It’s something she said had a profound impact on her and her future. 

“It was introduced to me at a time where I was feeling a little bit lost transitioning out of softball and looking for a new sport,” Maurer said. “And golf was the perfect fit for me.”

According to the National Golf Foundation, girls’ participation among junior golfers has risen by twenty percent since 2000. First Tee utilizes that interest by also teaching valuable lessons to set them up for success off of the course. 

“I see the impact I’m getting to make on young people today, but because of my own experience I know that this impact goes much further than the eight weeks I have them in my class,” Maurer said. “I was able to use those soft skills in high school tournaments, college tournaments, and as well as internships and in the professional world.” 

Girls’ participation in the Upstate chapter has risen by over ten percent in the last five years, higher than the First Tee national average. An encouraging sign for parents such as Liz Conroy, who enrolled her daughter in the program a couple of years ago. 

”It just kind of shows trying out different sports in the First Tee program allowed her to try it out and enjoy it and pursue more of the sport,” said Conroy.

And with that pursuit comes added opportunity through national academies and even college scholarships as they continue to build for the future.

For more info, visit https://firstteeupstate.org/girlsgolf.