DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Dec. 21, 2021 – LPGA*USGA Girls Golf announced today that Denise Vermillion, the Site Director of Girls Golf – First Tee – Central Ohio, has been selected as the recipient of the 2021 Sandy LaBauve Spirit Award, the most prestigious honor bestowed by LPGA*USGA Girls Golf.
Vermillion, an LPGA Class A Professional, will be presented with her award on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2022, during the LPGA Professional Rolex Awards ceremony at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando.
“I am so grateful to be a part of the Girls Golf community and I am blown away to be included in this group of Sandy LaBauve Spirit Award winners,” said Vermillion. “My driving force is that I don’t want any girl to ever shy away from the tee box because she may look different. I believe 110% in changing the face of the game. I am so happy that I said ‘yes’ to the opportunity to be Girls Golf Site Director and want to encourage others to say ‘yes’ too. The girls need us.”
Named after the founder of LPGA*USGA Girls Golf, the Sandy LaBauve Spirit Award honors an individual who has gone above and beyond to inspire the lives of juniors through their passion and dedication to empowering girls through golf. LaBauve was an LPGA Teaching Professional in Phoenix, Ariz. and a mother of two daughters when she founded Girls Golf in 1989.
“Coach Denise, as her girls call her, is full of energy and spunk – she is the definition of fun! Her drive is to put a smile on every young girl’s face as they embrace golf and fall in love with the game. She is always thinking of the next best step,” said Sandy LaBauve. “As the girls improve, she wants to create programs that prep them for the next level. She is passionate to see them reach the top and she lives through their successes. We are lucky to have such inspirational leaders like Denise in the LPGA.”
Vermillion believes that students learn best by doing. At each clinic or camp, she has golf instruction and craft/learning stations for a holistic understanding of golf. The craft station often teaches about rules, etiquette, club selection or hole design. Each clinic also focuses on one of Girls Golf’s 5 Es: exercise, energize, engage, enrich and empower. The girls are encouraged to share how they live out their E at home and school and practice how to apply it on the golf course.
"Denise always has a smile on her face and includes and engages the girls so well,” said Girls Golf parent Amanda Kuhn. “She welcomes the parents with open communication as well. My little girl always comes home with a smile on Thursday night after Girls Golf! She takes individual time with each child at her station and really has them focus on that practice and celebrates each girl’s effort.”
Along with Vermillion, four accomplished Site Directors were named finalists for this year’s Sandy LaBauve Spirit Award: Beverly Harrison of Girls Golf – Greater Newark, Sheryl Maize of Girls Golf – Lakeville, Susie Redman of Girls Golf – The Woodlands and Pamela Saladino of Girls Golf – Beloit, WI.
“The girls in my program are beneficiaries of not only mastering the artistry of golf but indelible sustaining tools for navigating life,” said Harrison. “These encompass the cultivation of wholesome self-identity, verbal skills, interpersonal relationships, the art of listening, patience and endurance. Moreover, these young people become attuned to an ethical perspective as they endeavor to serve the needs of other striving diverse individuals. If this is accomplished, then my mission has been successful.”
“We are passionate about Enriching the girls' lives through meaningful experiences and special events,” said Maize. “We offer top-notch golf instruction to improve girls’ confidence and golf skills while infusing character and life lessons. We empower and inspire our girls to be kind, courageous and to make a difference in their world.”
“Golf has given me a wonderful career,” said Redman. “For the past ten years, I have been running free Girls Golf clinics in my community. I love girls golf, I love people, and I do not want money to be an issue. Today more than ever girls need a positive coach. One in five children faces trauma. We are all in this together and we can make a difference!”
“Every girl that comes into my program becomes a ‘daughter’ to me,” said Saladino. “No matter what day or time it is, I am always available for the girls for any of their growing needs. Each one is similar but unique in their own way and I am very blessed to get the opportunity to be a part of their world.”
Here is the full list of nominees for the 2021 Sandy LaBauve Spirit Award:
Beverly E. Harrison