Clearview Regional High School junior Annalyse Dickinson was recently selected to serve a year-long term on the board of the Ladies Professional Golf Association/United States Golf Association (LPGA/USGA) Girls Golf eLeader.
The five-girl board — comprised of members from all over the country — will support the National Girls Golf staff at LPGA headquarters and develop ideas for growing membership, enhancing the program and growing girls golf teams in their communities.
“I was really surprised and excited,” Dickinson said when she received the news in early January.
Dickinson started taking golf lessons when she was 13. A year later — when she started her first junior golf clinic at Pitman Golf Course — she constantly found herself among the few girls on her team. Despite that, she decided to play as a freshman on the high school coed team, even though she was a little uncomfortable as one of only a few girls.
Yet over the course of her high school career, Dickinson has seen the growth of high school girls golf teams, from only two all-girl squads to 12 in South Jersey. She decided in her sophomore year to help get a team at Clearview Regional.
“I wanted to give other people the opportunity to play,” Dickinson said. “I didn’t want girls to feel like they were awkward on the boys team.”
About 25 girls are interested in joining, according to the Mullica Hill resident, ready to start a season in March. The team still needs a head coach and approval from the district’s board of education.
At an LPGA golf tournament last year, there were 132 girls representing over 30 schools in the state. When Dickinson and her family went to the tournament, they saw the number of girls participating and were surprised at how many were hungry to play.
“There are girls out there that want to play, but I think the problem is that none of them want to play on a boys team,” said Dickinson’s mother, Stephanie. “I think a lot of girls shied away from it until they had a girls team.”
The younger Dickinson explained the urgency for an all-girls team stems from the difference in competition. Boys golf clubs are heavier and members statistically swing faster, ultimately hitting the ball farther, she said.
Another factor is that boys are “really competitive,” much more than girls, Dickinson added. She feels golf should be treated as any other sport, where boys and girls play on their own teams.
Dickinson currently works at GolfU Mantua, where she coaches kids ages 4 to 14. There are some girls there, she explained, and she specifically likes to coach them because she wants to be a role model who encourages the pursuit of golf.
“I like the individuality,” Dickinson noted. “I like that I can just do my own thing, that I’m responsible for how I do on the course. I like the focus that it gives me.
“It makes me tune in to the golf course. And finally, it is fun, obviously, and I just really enjoy doing it.”