“It was a nine-hole course at that time and we started out as a foursome that had been taking golf lessons there from a golf pro from the YWCA and the owner, Jim Moeller, asked us if we wanted to start a ladies club. None of us thought it would ever happen,” said 95-year-old MBWGC charter member Lee Baebler.
“But we were absolutely surprised by the end of the year that we had some 70 members,” Baebler continued.
Fast-forward half a century and MBWGC, now 58 members strong, just celebrated its golden anniversary Oct. 2 at Mission Bay Golf Course at 2702 N. Mission Bay Drive.
That Wednesday morning started, as it does every week for MBWGC members, with a round of golf. Only this special day included a proclamation presented by an aide to District 2 City Councilman Kevin Faulconer and Mark Marny, head of the city’s golf courses, proclaiming Oct. 2, 2013 to be “Mission Bay Women’s Golf Club Day.”
Excerpts from the proclamation read:
“Mission Bay Women’s Golf Club established at Mission Bay Golf Course in 1963 … has provided recreational opportunities for women of all abilities and ages to grow their ability and provide leadership opportunities to further the mission of the club … which continues to be a pillar in the San Diego golf community.”
The proclamation was signed by all nine City Councilmembers.
Talking with MBWGC members about their club’s uniqueness and why it has endured, one word kept cropping up.
“It’s the camaraderie of the women,” said Doris Cronkhite, noting active members range from women in their 20s to their 90s.
“I just love the camaraderie,” agreed 93-year-old club member Kay Robinson, who joined about 10 years ago.
“The ladies, the location,” was longtime club member Shirley Goddard’s answer when asked what keeps her a MBWGC member.
“We’re a very social group,” concluded club president Suzy Leif. “We have fun with each other. Rather than going out and playing cards with the boys, we come here and play a round.”
“You’re away from the telephone, away from the dishes,” added Leif half-jokingly.
“It beats mopping the floor,” concurred Cronkhite.
Bonnie Cole, an MBWGC member for 23 years, said the course has a lot to do with why the club has flourished.
“It’s a fun course to play because it’s not real long, you can play it in two hours,” Cole said, noting she started out playing 18 holes at Balboa Park years ago. “That took too long — most of the day. So I said, ‘I think I’ll try Mission Bay.’ I came and they welcomed me with open arms.”
After the round of golf on Oct. 2, the 40 or so MBWGC members who turned out for the anniversary celebration met for lunch afterward at Sufi restaurant in Clairemont to relive old times and mark 50 years of companionship.
Still going strong after five decades, club president Leif said the group is always looking for new members.
“Come here any Wednesday morning,” she said. “We tee off at 8:30 a.m. If you want to give us a try, just get here 30 or 40 minutes before pin (tee off).”
Leif said all golf skill levels are accommodated at her club.
“We just have a good time,” she said. “If you’re really good, it’s a great course to help out your short game. If you’re a duffer, it’s short enough that you can manage.”
“And you can feel good about how you play,” chimed in Cronkhite. “That’s the key.”