Time was of the essence in the early 2000’s as the eastern regions of the Carolina’s craved competitive golf opportunities for young girls invested in the game. While there were tours for young girls to join, very few of them were as intimate, proficient, nor as effective at meeting the needs of aspiring girl golfers as they could have been. There was a clear lack of development and awareness for girls’ golf. That was, until 2007. This was the year the, soon to be, Peggy Kirk Bell Girls’ Golf Tour (PKBGT) was founded. The tour, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, has taken great strides towards providing an environment where aspiring collegiate golfers can develop, compete, and be recognized. Their focus and passion for ensuring the future of the girls’ game through multi-layer tournament competition is unprecedented throughout the industry.
It was not long until some truly talented players arose from the depths of the Carolina’s. Led by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill All-American and PKBGT Alumna, Katherine Perry (pictured in our feature photo with her friend Allie White), news of the PKBGT was catching wind quickly. In 2009, Perry would go on to reign as champion of eight tournaments throughout the tours first year-round schedule. She was also crowned the 2008 and 2009 Order of Merit Champion. While successful at the collegiate level, Perry’s greatest golf fortune would not come until December 2016. After years of hard work and dedication to the game, she competed her way through the final stages of the Qualifying Tournament and made her way onto the LPGA Tour.
Another PKBGT, and Wake Forest University, alumna whom has continued to make her way into professional golf is Allison Emrey. Along with Perry, Emrey is helping to connect young girls to the tour in hopes of expanding and recognizing them for their accomplishments and successes in the game as a PKBGT’s Let’s Play Campaign LPGA Ambassador. Emrey, is a member of the LPGA Symetra Tour where she is a full-time member for the second consecutive year. She is scheduled to play in three additional tournaments this month: POC MED Golf Classic at Windsor Golf Club (April 7-9), Guardian Retirement Championship at Sara Bay(April 21-23), and the Symetra Classic (April 28-30).
Spring forward to March 2017, membership has quickly grown to over 650 members ranging in age from nine to nineteen, with four distinct levels of play. In 2017, the tour will operate over 65 events across the Southeast, Carolina’s and Middle Atlantic regions, bringing together players from over 30 states. The tour continues to create larger, deeper fields which are proving to attract the top players and college coaches to the PKBGT.
Last weekend, the girls of the PKBGT had the opportunity to qualify for the 2017 LPGA Symetra Tour’s Women’s Health Classic to be held May 11-14 at the Links at Stoney Point. Lauren Freyvogel, class of 2019 from Gibsonia, PA, earned sponsor exemption as the tournament champion with a two-day score of 70-77-147. Her four shot victory qualified her for her first ever professional tournament. The past will meet the present as three PKBGT alumni are scheduled to participate in the event including Allison Emrey, Furman University graduate Laura Wearn, and University of Virginia graduate Lauren Coughlin.
The increased awareness and presence of the tour in just ten years is remarkably special and inspiring to watch. The future is what makes the process so worth it. From helping young girls through their very first tournament experience to mentoring them through the process of collegiate recruitment and supporting them at the professional level, the PKBGT has the resources and the experience to do it all.
In the coming years, the tour is looking to bring their pathway progression for girl’s golf competition to new regions and new players. Their goal with the Let’s Play Campaign is to establish 1,000 girls’ only tournaments in ten years and to sustain the growth of girls’ golf through quality, appropriate and competitive opportunities. And they are well on their way! The possibility and opportunity for even more growth, success, friendships, and family is inevitable for each and every girl touched by the organization. To sign up for a tournament or become a member of the Peggy Kirk Bell Girls’ Golf Tour go to http://www.pkbgt.org.
Article by Ashley Osiecki
Ashley Osiecki is a student-athlete at Queens University of Charlotte where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications with a minor in Sports Communications.
Throughout her time at Queens, Ashley took advantage of many rewarding internships. She is currently an intern with a local marketing and media company, National Amateur Sports. She has also traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as a student journalist at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Prior to this, she was a communications intern for a Premier Soccer League team, the Charlotte Independence, and a marketing and promotions intern for her universities athletics department, Queens University of Charlotte Athletics.
While she committed to play four years of college soccer for Queens, she did play golf with the Peggy Kirk Bell Girls’ Golf tour from 2008 – 2012. She was the 2009 Peggy Kirk Bell Order of Merit Runner Up, Future’s Division. She also played golf for New Bern High School from 2009-2012 where she was the 2009-2012 NC 4A High School Mid-Eastern Conference Women’s Golf – Golfer of the Year, the 2009 – 2010 NC 4A High School Mid-East Regional Individual Champion – Match Medalist, and the 2012 NCHSAA Women’s Golf Individual State Runner-Up Class 4A.
Ashley Osiecki lives in Charlotte, N.C. Her expected graduation date is May 6, 2017. Follow Ashley online on Twitter
Peggy Kirk Bell is one of the most decorated, honored and respected female golfers of all time. Prestigious awards include the Bobby Jones Award, Joe Graffis Award, Richardson Award and many more. She is a member of both the Sports Hall of Fame in North Carolina and her native state of Ohio. She turned pro in 1950 and was among the original 12 pioneers of the LPGA.
In 2008 Peggy Kirk Bell became the honorary chairwoman of the tour and in 2011, the Peggy Kirk Bell Foundation became the primary sponsor of the Peggy Kirk Bell Girls Tour.
Peggy Kirk Bell passed away at her Pines Needles Resort in Southern Pines, North Carolina in November 2016 at the age of 95.