Two programs in north offer glimmers of hope for flagging sport local sports thesunchronicle.com out of state tuition for georgia state university

Yes, there is still enthusiasm for golf among today’s young people, and two programs in north attleboro are examples of how the game can grow.

Five years ago, jillian and sadie barend were watching the solheim cup, the annual match-play competition between the best women golfers in the united states and europe. The sisters had been interested in the game, but the competition made them want to play in a league.

Unable to find a golf league for girls, their parents, dave and sara barend, launched the girls independent golf league — GIGL for short (the organization’s slogan is, “because golf needs more girls, and more giggles”). The idea is to let girls play and have fun among themselves without the potentially intimidating presence of boys.

Using MGA links in norton and stone-E-lea golf course in attleboro as home bases, GIGL has grown to a four-division league with more than 200 players from across eastern massachusetts and rhode island.Girls independent

In addition, GIGL runs two programs a year in which girls take part in a clinic at MGA links — it was renamed the links at mass golf earlier this year — and play nine holes afterward.

The barend family has had visitors from georgia, kentucky, dallas and new york’s hudson valley look at GIGL in an effort to bring it back home.

The greatest tribute came just recently when GIGL received the international network of golf’s 24th annual award for player development at the national PGA show in orlando, fla. — what barend calls “the academy awards of the golf industry.”

Jillian barend, who her father calls the true founder of GIGL, is now a sophomore at north attleboro high school and one of the top players on the boys’ golf team. She will officially accept the award when the organization holds its next jamboree saturday, april 14 at the links at mass golf.

Mike michel grew up near locust valley country club in attleboro, spending hour after summer hour honing his skills and deepening his love for the game.Mass golf he became a star player at bishop feehan high school, earning a scholarship to rutgers university where he was captain of the golf team.

Now married with three children and in a successful career in insurance, he decided he needed to give back to the game that has given him so much. In 2012, he launched 24 hours of golf, a fundraiser in which he and a buddy use illuminated golf balls and pins to play around the clock.

The mike michel golf fund has raised more than $100,000, all of it used to make sure that any attleboro area youngster who wants to play the game can do so. Each year, the fund buys clubs for 30-40 junior golfers and the same number of memberships to the links at mass golf.

Besides helping him earn a college degree, michel says golf taught him values — respecting others, observing etiquette, demanding fair play and simply being honest. Besides the enjoyment the game can bring, he wants young people to also learn those values.Links mass golf

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Girls ages 4-18 interested in playing golf can get an introduction at the next jamboree put on by GIGL, the girls independent golf league. No experience is needed to play, and golf clubs, balls and tees will be provided free of charge.

INSTRUCTORS: hall of famer kay mcmahon, former PGA tour player ed kirby, founder of the LPGA’s futures tour eloise trainor and former harvard coach claire sheldon.