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Help Make Their Dreams Come True

By: Dave Andrews


Technically they are professional golfers. As a practical matter, most of them lose money every season . . . a lot of money. They are the young women players on the Duramed Futures Tour who travel the tour's six-month-long circuit trying to do well enough to live out their dream and make it to the LPGA Tour. The typical player on the Futures Tour will spend $30,000 or more each season on entry fees and traveling expenses to compete in the tour's 17 or 18 events. Only about 10 or 15 of the players will come close to earning $30,000 in purse money. Most players only make between $2,000 and $8,000 in winnings over the course of the six-month season.

Many of these young pros are just a stroke or two away from making it to the LPGA, but the financial realities force them to give up on their dreams before they can take their games to the next level. Over a few seasons on the tour they can rack up close to $100,000 in debt.

Four years ago I knew exactly nothing about the Duramed Futures Tour. I had never even heard of it. Even though I had been a pretty big fan of the LPGA since the 1970s, I never knew there was the female equivalent of the Nationwide Tour in women's golf. I would bet that most women golf fans around the country have probably never heard of the Futures Tour either.

That changed for me in 2005 when the Duramed Futures Tour began playing one of its events at my home course in Concord, N.H. After hearing that 144 young women professional golfers from all over the world would be descending on our little public course, I and several of my golfing buddies, who were also curious about what to expect, signed up to volunteer for the tournament.

It only took one day of watching these great young golfers in action to turn me and my friends into big fans, and we look forward to the tour's return to our home course every year. I was so inspired by these players that I sat down and I wrote a novel and screenplay based on the tour. Coincidentally, the story of "Pops and Sunshine" is based on a promising young player on the tour who is facing the prospects of having to give up golf because she can't afford to keep playing. Since writing the novel and screenplay, I have gotten to know many of the players and learned about the real-life financial struggles that many of them face.

This year I have become involved with several other people in organizing a foundation to raise money to try to help some of them keep their dreams alive. The Future Stars Foundation is a grassroots fundraising effort put together by several fans of women's golf from all over the country. We are all volunteers and are not connected in any way with the Duramed Futures Tour or the LPGA. We're just a bunch of people who want to help some great young women golfers achieve the goal they've had since they were young teens, when they developed a love of the game and their special talent.

The kick-off fundraising event for the foundation will be a pro-am tournament on February 21st outside Orlando. Twenty-five pros from the Futures Tour will be playing alongside 75 amateurs. We are still looking for more amateur players, so if you can work it into your plans check out the foundation's website for details (http://FutureStarsFoundation.com).

If you've never heard of the Futures Tour or never seen the players in action, look for one of the tour's events in your part of the country in 2009. The tour gets underway in March in Florida and then travels to the Southwest, Midwest, Southeast and Northeast over the following six months. The three-day events are wonderful places to watch some of the future stars of the LPGA. In the future you'll be watching many of these players on TV and reading about them in newspapers and magazines for years to come.

Lorena Ochoa got her professional start on the Futures Tour, as did countless other current LPGA players. If you follow the "Big Break" series on Golf Channel, you've probably seen players like Kim Welch, Elizabeth Stuart, Briana Vega and Ashley Prange. All of them played on the Futures Tour this season. During this off season, check out the Duramed Futures Tour website, http://duramedfuturestour.com, to find out about it and learn of the players from all over the world who compete on the tour.

I think I can guarantee that you will also become a fan of these great young women golfers. Many need some financial help to continue their quest to reach the LPGA. If you'd like to help them out, we would greatly appreciate your support of the Future Stars Foundation.

Dave Andrews is a Harvard-educated former television news reporter. He's also an avid golfer who has become a fan of the Duramed Futures Tour. His home course in Concord, N.H., is annually the site of one of the tour's events. The inspiration for Dave's 2007 novel, "Pops and Sunshine," came from meeting many of the young aspiring women golfers on that tour. Each of them has a passion, dedication and determination that he finds remarkable. His novel is a fictionalization of the dream that these young women share. To order Dave's book, visit http://popsandsunshine.com.