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Through the Years

In 1946, South Jersey Golf Association was formed, led by founding and original board members Mary Yarrington and Harry and Tomi Rutherford. The purpose was to provide additional tournament venues for New Jersey clubs. Members in the first years were Burlington, Merchantville, Woodbury, Moorestown, Riverton, Pennsauken (Cooper River), Tavistock, Woodcrest (Crest Hollow),Ocean City/Somers Point (Greate Bay),Cohanzick, Wildwood, Spring Hill, and Sakima. These association memberships were predominantly from private clubs and most had GAP or WGAP memberships as well.

By the mid-1980’s there were about 34 member clubs and 900 members. Individual dues were $5. By 1992, 38 clubs each paid $75 in dues. By 2001, with almost 1,000 members from 58 different clubs, the association’s membership included all clubs in the area. Club dues were raised to $100 and individual member dues were $10.00. Around 2004, clubs began to drop their memberships for various reasons such as the economy, lack of interest or cessation of operation.

Men’s team matches began in the early years of the association. The women’s matches were added about ten years later. The women based their system on the WGAP format. At that time matches were played in twosomes. As more public courses were added in the early 1960’s, and they in turn fielded teams, it became necessary to change the format to foursomes because the public courses would not allow the tee times for twosomes. This created a scoring dilemma which resulted in the format and scoring used today.

All jobs were done by volunteers, with the exception of the Secretary, Treasurer and Tournament Directors who each received a $250 quarterly stipend. The secretary was given a typewriter to handle correspondence and minutes. The membership books and cards were distributed through the Representative system.

In the mid-80’s, under the volunteer coordinator and SJGA president, Nancy Lauber, association members became involved in the LPGA Classic near Atlantic City. In 1989, at the urging of Nancy, Arlene Cherwien joined the SJGA Board of Directors. One of her first projects was to make a Driving Directions Book for members (this was before Google) and to prepare press releases.

In 1996, Arlene was elected president and continued in this role until 2003, with a hiatus in 1999-2000, when Dick Marshall served as president. During these years Arlene also had the responsibility of Course Rating Director, a position she still holds today.

During Arlene’s term as president, SJGA moved out of the shoe box towards computerization, with the introduction of a website designed by Golf Surfer. Tournament and team match results were listed on the site along with general information about the association.

1996 was the 50th Anniversary of SJGA and was celebrated with the distribution of commemorative bag tags and newspapers.

In 1998, the SJGA became incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation. During this time we applied for and were granted not-for-profit status with a 501(c) 3 classification by the Federal Government and also received Sales Tax Exemption from the State of New Jersey. These two moves saved operational costs and provided a venue for tax deductible gifts.

Also in ‘98, the USGA provided the association with a large laser-gun for rating, a computer system and radios for tournaments and ratings. In 2002, we received a USGA grant for a copier.

During these years, many tournaments sold out and had waiting lists. Both men’s and women’s team matches were an integral and active part of the association with the women’s matches involving more teams and players.

In 2002, with the association growing, a move was made to hire a part-time Executive Director to alleviate some of the duties of the volunteer president, who was also serving as the CEO and ED. The new ED would take over both the secretarial and financial duties, allowing the president to focus on board related activities. With the age of computers the association was able to move forward with services and information for the membership and thereby considerably reducing mailing and telephone costs.

During 2005 through the present, SJGA has continued with its mission, with a focus on developing a plan to grow the organization in a climate of changing demographics. Using a comprehensive survey and a series of regional Rep meetings, the current Board of Directors has taken the comments and suggestions presented and reorganized.

As of 2011, our present President, Gail Reilly assumed the duties of the Executive Director. A PGA member was hired to be Tournament Director and Consultant and he or his staff runs all SJGA tournaments. A webmaster was hired to design and monitor our new comprehensive user-friendly website featuring new tournament types such as the Fall Classic, Mid-Amateur, “Player of the Year” statistics, Handicap Adjustment Points and Web Advertising.

Additionally, we have truly "gone green" with online payments and document downloads. In 2012, SJGA honored many of its past BOD members by creating perpetual trophies in their names. Today, the present Board, still all volunteer, continues to focus on the original mission and to pursue new strategies to keep the legacy of SJGA alive. As an example, In 2014, SJGA returned to Riverton Country Club, one of the founding member clubs that joined in the late 40’s to hold the Men’s and Women’s Amateur Championships.

In spring of 2014, SJGA and NJSGA decided to collaborate in a joint effort to promote golf across New Jersey. By showcasing the courses in the southern counties associated with SJGA, both organizations are focused on developing membership and increasing play for golfers throughout the state.

In the fall of 2015, the Board of Directors met with the Club Reps at Buena Vista Country Club to discuss and vote on major By-Law changes that would allow SJGA to run more smoothly in its daily operations. The use of Club Reps as the voting constituents was removed and a new 5/7 member Advisory Board was put in place to run more smoothly in its daily operations.

The use of Club Reps as the voting constituents was removed and a new 5/7 member Advisory Board was put in place to counsel the Board of Directors in their governance of SJGA. Advisory Board members would not have a vote in decision making. In place of the Rep’s voting, all current members who played in at least 3 annual tournaments or 2 annual team matches or served a minimum of 2 years as an SJGA volunteer committee member would vote . Vote by this specific membership will be on key issues as it relates to the governance of SJGA.

The NJSGA/SJGA Collaborative Initiative proved beneficial to both organizations with increased membership for SJGA and affordable opportunities to play at top southern Jersey venues, both private and public courses. Both organizations agreed to continue in 2016 to fulfill these endeavors. A new TPP program for tournament and a new “smart phone” App for SJGA entries are being initiated to further improve customer service.

In 2017, we had a new Tournament Director, Roger Hoover, who worked with NJSGA, incorporating a new golf program called “Golf Genius.” More players, over 50, from northern New Jersey and Pa. golf clubs participated in our events with several winning in our major tournaments.

As 2018 begins, we have added two new venues, Cherry Valley in Mercer County and Pine Barrens in Jackson, N.J. Woodcrest is back on our tournament list as a Member/Guest Event. In a collaborative effort, we are exploring an inaugural North vs South Women’s Team Match Championship.

A special thank-you to Arlene Cherwien for her recollections on SJGA