Stewart will share her experiences as a pro golfer

Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon July 13 at McCormick Woods Golf Club

PORT ORCHARD — Summer is in full swing, and the warmer temperatures and sunny skies means it’s time for avid linksmen and women to break out their golf clubs and hit the course.

One of the highlights of the golf season is the annual South Kitsap Golf Classic, which is organized by the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce.

The tournament benefits the chamber’s South Kitsap Business Education scholarship, awarded to a local high school senior who anticipates entering the business field.

To gear up for that event, the chamber’s monthly luncheon — 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 13 in the McCormick Woods Golf Club clubhouse — will feature a virtual golf tournament, a putting contest and a special guest speaker: the chamber’s own Bobbie Stewart, LPGA Professional of the Year in 1985.

“It’s a fun way to get together, network, socialize and drum up some interest in our golf tournament,” said Matt Murphy, executive director of the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce.

Stewart was a member of the LPGA’s teaching division during a time when women’s golf was still in its infancy in terms of popularity and countrywide reach. The teaching division aimed to bridge this gap and bring the game to a larger pool of potential players.

Stewart’s career as a golf teacher began at Point Loma College, where she served as a coach for the girls golf team while working on her regular teaching degree.

But one day, while showing her athletes a few pointers at the Singing Hills Country Club in El Cajon, she was approached about becoming a club professional.

Stewart began as a starter at Singing Hills, working her way up through the golf teaching ranks. She eventually came to manage the pro shop at Singing Hills. Female golf teachers were pretty uncommon in the 1970s.

“My head pro just happened to believe in women, because there were really only two female teaching professionals there,” Stewart said.

“It was sort of the beginning of women having a presence in the golf shop — it was still a man’s sport.”

In all, Stewart spent 27 years at Singing Hills. She also coached the female golf team at San Diego State University for five years, competing against large, prestigious southwestern universities such as USC, UCLA and Arizona State.

At the luncheon, Stewart will speak about her experiences during the early days of the LPGA and her efforts to help promote the game and encourage women to play.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Stewart said. “It’s to put a little enthusiasm behind the game and to support the tournament.”

The annual SK Golf Classic will take place on Sept. 15 at McCormick Woods and features a full day of events, beginning at 10 a.m. with the golf tournament and culminates with a dinner and awards ceremony at 6 p.m.

— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. Contact him at mkrulish@soundpublishing.com.

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