LPGA Hall of Famer Betsy King delighted students of the First Tee of Tulsa Monday morning with a clinic at the First Tee practice facilities at Mohawk Park.
King, who won 34 events including six major championships on the LPGA Tour, was in Tulsa to accept the Iba Award for her strong charity work for Golf Fore Africa, a non-profit charitable organization she founded in 2007 which concentrates on helping provide clean drinking water for rural villages in Rwanda, Africa.
While giving pointers on putting, irons and drivers to the students, King also told them it is never too early to embark on a life of helping people.
Through three annual fundraisers, King raised hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to help build wells or offer supplies, including Aids treatment kits to villages in Rwanda. She said it is a constant source of amazement for visitors to learn that more than 50 percent of rural Africans have no daily access to clean drinking water and the average number of meals consumed in a week is five.
Her goal this year is to raise $1 million, for which she has already secured a $1 million matching grant. She said that would enable her to bring clean drinking water to about 117 new communities. She is embarking on a project in Zambia in August.
"It’s just a different world," King said. "People don’t realize, and I know I didn’t, how rare clean water is."
King was off on Tuesday to the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst for a meeting of past champions. She won the U.S. Open in 1989 and 1990 after finishing in the top 12 in each of the previous five years.
"I played Pinehurst No. 2 once but it was about 30 years ago and I don’t remember much of it," she said. "I think what the USGA is doing is great. I was a little concerned at first about how the course would play for women after the men were done, but I think they’ll put some water on it the next three days and it will green up a little."
Like many who were at the men’s open, King was concerned that the spectators who are confined to areas mostly to the side of the sandscapes are so far removed from the action that the only place to view the golf will be around the tees and greens. She said the fans who watch both events will be impressed by the evolution of the women’s game.
"When I came out I was one of the taller players, but now there are a lot of women taller and stronger and they just bomb it," King said. "It’s a different game."