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This CCU female employee just did something only three others have in PGA history

Paige Cribb was elected president of the Carolinas PGA, the first female to ever hold the position.
Paige Cribb was elected president of the Carolinas PGA, the first female to ever hold the position. jbell@thesunnews.com

There’s a misconception that the PGA is for men, and the LPGA is for women.

That is true of the golf tours.

But it’s not entirely true of the teaching and club professional organizations that use the initialisms, and Paige Cribb is one of the best examples as a pioneer in the PGA of America.

The Georgetown native and director of student support for Coastal Carolina University’s PGA Golf Management Program has become the first female president of the Carolinas PGA, which is the largest of the PGA of America’s 41 sections.

She is just the fourth woman to ever serve as a president of a PGA section.

“I’m honored and thrilled. We’re the largest section, so I’m pretty psyched about that,” said Cribb, who took over the title last week. “It has been an incredible week.”

The PGA of America is the organization for club and teaching golf professionals with approximately 28,000 members, and about 1,000 of them are women. The CPGA has about 2,000 members, including roughly 100 women.

Current PGA of America vice president Suzy Whaley of Connecticut is the first woman ever elected to serve as an officer of the national organization.

The other section presidents before Cribb were Leslie Core-Drevecky in Colorado, Sue Fiscoe in Northern California and Kathy Swanson in Minnesota, and Dede Moriarty is on track to become the next president in Northern California.

Cribb ran and was voted to serve as one of 10 CPGA area directors before beginning her historic ascension to the presidency by winning a vote against one other CPGA professional for the organization’s secretary position in 2014.

That two-year term was followed by two years as the vice president and the presidential vote last Monday. Cribb will finish her eight years in office with a two-year term as past president.

Will Mann, the director of CCU’s PGM Program, is a past president of the PGA of America, and Cribb bounced the idea of running for CPGA office off him.

“When I ran for secretary, to sit there and say I’m going to be the first female to run for secretary doesn’t cross my mind,” Cribb said. “Here’s the business I’ve been in, really the only business I could think to be in, it’s all I ever thought of. I’m just doing it to serve.”

All offices are volunteer positions. “But you’re giving back and serving, and it shows you care enough to stick your neck out there,” Cribb said. “You’re tasked with doing what’s best to serve the members and grow the game.”

Cribb, 49, played multiple sports growing up, including basketball, volleyball and golf at Winyah and Georgetown high schools, and was introduced to golf through her father and grandfather at the former nine-hole Georgetown Country Club.

“I remember just going out with them and I had a club and just hitting it around,” Cribb said. “Then at the age of nine there was a junior tournament and they entered me in it, and I won. When it came time to take pictures supposedly I hid. I was embarrassed because I beat all the boys and they were my friends.”

Cribb signed to play at N.C. State before the school dropped women’s golf, so she played at UNC Wilmington instead and aspired to play pro golf. Near the end of her collegiate career she determined she preferred to be involved in the business of the game – a decision that was reinforced after a few mini-tour events – and she entered the PGA program about a year after graduation.

The predominant focus of the LPGA was teaching, while the PGA offered a more business-focused path.

“Honestly there never was any other business I think I would have gotten in,” Cribb said. “And to me, the LPGA was strictly teaching, and they were good at it. But PGA of America was business and I didn’t think I wanted to just teach, and as a PGA member I could do a little bit of everything, so I went that route.”

Cribb’s first job as a PGA apprentice was at Legends Resort in 1993. She became an assistant at Heritage Golf Club, Wachesaw East and the now-closed Bay Tree Golf Plantation, and worked as an instructor and salesperson at Charleston National Golf Club before returning to Wachesaw East for seven years, including five as head pro.

Cribb tried to keep her pro shops and staff welcoming. “As a golf professional you’re an actor. Have fun with it,” Cribb said. “When golfers come into the pro shop they don’t want to see you [complaining] and moaning. Have fun with them.”

She was hired at CCU in Oct. 2008 by then program director Charlie Thrash, who had been the general manager at Bay Tree during Cribb’s tenure there.

The PGM program awards a four-year business degree with a specialization in golf management that includes steps toward PGA of America membership, a playing ability test and 16 months of internships. There are about 250 students in the program.

At CCU, Cribb serves as a golf instructor, Level I class teacher, academic advisor, and club repair instructor. She also advises many of her students on life. “I love the fact that you are a mentor to the students,” said Cribb, who still gives junior instruction at Wachesaw East. “You get to know them and to see them get out is a lot of fun.”

Once her eight-year run as a CPGA officer is completed, Cribb may seek to join Whaley as a national officer.

The first step would be becoming one of 14 district directors through a vote, overseeing the three PGA sections of the Carolinas, Mid Atlantic and Kentucky. It’s a national position that would put her on the PGA board of directors, and begins with shadowing the district director for a year.

“I have thought about that. I would say that’s on my radar,” Cribb said.



McPherson to host

With Golf Channel personality Kelly Tilghman of North Myrtle Beach unavailable, another woman from the Grand Strand who has forged a successful career in the golf industry will be standing in for her as a host of the First Tee of Coastal Carolinas Future Generation Tournament.

Longtime LPGA Tour member Kristy McPherson of Conway will be joining Golf Channel’s Charlie Rymer as a co-host at Caledonia Golf & Fish Club on July 24.

The tournament is a primary fundraiser for The First Tee chapter that oversees Horry, Georgetown and Brunswick counties as well as three other counties in North Carolina, and Tilghman and Rymer have been co-hosts for a few years.

This year’s tournament honoree will be Rick Richard, recently retired marketing director of area PGA Tour Superstore locations who has been a strong supporter of The First Tee and junior golf for many years.

Rich Abraham became the new executive director of The First Tee chapter on Jan. 1. Abraham had been executive director of The First Tee of the Grand Strand since August 2014, and that chapter was absorbed by the Coastal Carolinas chapter.

The First Tee of Coastal Carolinas will begin its After School and Saturday programs on March 5. They teach life skills, character building and golf for youth ages 7 to 14 through interactive games, lessons and activities focused on The First Tee Nine Core Values.

The programs will be held at Willbrook Plantation, Wachesaw Plantation, Cane Patch Driving Range, Legends Resort, The Hackler Course at CCU, Crown Park, and Eagle Nest (Saturdays).

The eight-week programs consist of eight 90-minute classes for a total of $40. Fitted clubs can be rented for an additional $10. Information and registration for all First Tee programs and events can be found at www.thefirstteecoastalcarolinas.org.

Golfweek Tour growing

If the opening event is any indication, the Golfweek Amateur Tour is in for a big season in 2018.

The Pawleys Invitational at True Blue Golf Club and Caledonia Golf & Fish Club on Feb. 17-18 had a sold-out field of 124 players and a waiting list, making it the largest ever Golfweek Amateur Tour event on the Grand Strand.

The field was strong, as well, as 71 competitors had single-digit handicaps, and 18 Golfweek chapter tours were represented with players from as far away as New York, Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio.

Between prize money, skins payouts, pin proximity and a two-man intra-tournament event, Dores said $18,000 was paid in winnings.

The Golfweek Tour has opened on President’s Day weekend since tour director Jason Dores took it over, and the initial event four years ago attracted 66 players.

Dores expects a fourth consecutive year of membership increases. There were 91 members last year, and with nearly 80 already registered for 2018 Dores expects to exceed 100 members. He said he’s seeing players travel farther to join, including those from the Florence area.

Dores is also operating the Golfweek Senior Amateur Tour for the second straight year. It had 68 members in the inaugural season and he expects that number to grow considerably.

“I think once it hits full strength, the senior tour will probably double the membership the regular tour has,” Dores said. “There’s no doubt in my mind with that just because of the demographics here.”

Handicaps are used to place players in one of five flights on the regular tour and four flights on the senior tour, though they are not counted in gross scoring.

The membership fee is $100 for the regular tour and $85 for the senior tour. One-day tournaments on the regular tour are generally $85 for one-day and $225 for two-day events, while the senior tour consists solely of one-day events primarily on Mondays and Thursdays with entry fees averaging about $75.

Both tours generally have a couple events a month into September. The senior tour begins March 1 at Long Bay Club and the next regular tour event is the War on the Shore at Arrowhead Country Club on March 3.

The regular tour has a few two-day events including the Golfweek Masters at Sandpiper Bay Golf Club from April 7-8, a regional at Kiawah Island July 21-22, and the Grand Strand Classic Sept. 1-2 at Barefoot Resort and Grande Dunes. Skins games often precede two-day events. A new three-day Winter Classic in Pinehurst, N.C., from Nov. 16-18 will feature a Stableford format.

The Golfweek national championship is in Hilton Head Island in October. More information on the tours can be found at www.amateurgolftour.net.

DJ Jr. dramatics

Michael Brennan of Leesburg, Va., and Alexa Pano of Lake Worth, Fla., earned titles Sunday in the Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship at TPC Myrtle Beach.

Pano, just an eighth-grader who is ranked 20th among junior girls in the U.S., won by four shots over 14th-ranked high school sophomore and Arizona State commitment Ashley Menne of Surprise, Ariz., with a 2-over 218.

Brennan’s victory was a lot more dramatic. Tied for the lead with Ben Carr of Columbus, Ga., on the 545-yard par-5 18th hole, Brennan challenged water along the left side of the hole with a 4-iron from 230 yards that stopped 20 feet from the cup and holed the eagle putt for a two-shot win at even-par 216.

Pano shot a 68 in the opening round and held at least a share of the lead after each round. Menne pulled even after 10 holes Sunday but played holes 15 through 17 4-over par to cede control to Pano.

The tournament instituted a cut this year before the final round to the low 39 boys and ties and low 15 girls and ties, and both Grand Strand players entered missed the cut. Holden Grigg of Myrtle Beach shot an 80-80–160 to miss the cut by six shots and Smith Knaffle of Murrells Inlet shot 78-87–165 to miss by four.

Emily Dunlap of Greenville moved the cut line after holing out from the fairway for an eagle on the ninth hole to bump Yoona Kim of Fairlawn, N.J., out of the final round.





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