In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, The Hartford Chamber of Commerce is highlighting local Hispanic businesses in our Small Business Spotlight series. To learn more about CT Latinas Golf Team, MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price spoke with Lena Rodriguez, CEO/President of Community Renewal Team, Inc.; Carmen Sierra, Assistant City Treasurer in Hartford; and Estela Morales Segarra, Program Specialist of Adult Education Center in Hartford.
NAN PRICE: How did the CT Latinas Golf Team come to be and how are each of you involved?
ESTELA MORALES SEGARRA: I love golf! My father introduced me to golf when I was about 8 years old and I competed in youth and women’s National Leagues North Zone in Mexico until I came to Hartford in 2007 to get married. I became a U.S. citizen in 2011.
When I moved to Hartford, I started volunteering and then working for The First Tee Connecticut. I also serve for the Hartford Oversight Golf Commission. I joined a couple of women’s golf leagues in Connecticut, but there weren’t any Latinas. I always wanted to encourage more women like me to play golf.
CARMEN SIERRA: I was introduced to golf for the first time when I was working for Connecticut Congresswoman Barbara Kennelly. I went to the golf course with her and that was about it. I never played. I just watched her. She networked and she played well, because she’s a great golfer.
In 2011, I attended the CRT Women’s Golf Tournament and I brought Estela with me. Seeing Estela play motivated me, even as a beginner golfer. I wanted to learn how to become a better golfer.
LENA RODRIGUEZ: I met Estela through Carmen at the CRT Tee Off with Women to support women suffering from domestic violence in 2014. In 2018, we reconnected and started talking about ways we could encourage more Latinas to play golf.
We all had a vision of bringing more women—initially Latina women—together to play golf because we wanted to support women and see more diversity on the golf course. We came up with the idea of forming a team and offering a golf clinic. We formed a wonderful partnership initially at Goodwin Park with PGA Professional golfer Joe Mentz in 2018. This year Ron Victor has joined us and he is an absolute delight!
NAN: How has the CT Latinas Golf Team evolved since it formed?
LENA: We’ve brought economic growth to Goodwin Park. The women not only are playing with our group on Wednesdays, they’re coming other times. I love that we’ve helped bring a sense of vibrancy to Goodwin that has helped them economically. I think that’s a really good thing for the city of Hartford.
While initially it was just meant to be a team of Latinas getting together, our group has evolved significantly. We’re not only Latina women. We have a nice diversification, which is very healthy culturally.
Originally, we thought it would be great to get a few women to come out and play. Our first year, we had more than 90 women involved. We now have 70 members of the team and additional women who come out to play.
We’ve all worked hard together as a team. Estela has been doing an amazing job in terms of organizing and doing a lot of marketing. We formed an advisory committee and we have a treasurer, Elsa Huetas. I’m the Chair, Carmen is the First Vice Chair and Estela is the Second Vice Chair. So, we’re structured and we’re growing. One of our future goals is to raise funds so we can support urban youth and help them learn the game of golf.
ESTELA: The women come from all different professional backgrounds. In addition to playing golf, the women are coming together from all over the state to network and participate in other activities like dinners, paint nights, and holidays gatherings. And then, in the spring and summer, we’re playing golf.
Our participants and members are so committed to CT Latinas Golf Team, too. They help us to recruit and their testimony makes us an empowering women’s team!
CARMEN: It’s amazing how quickly we have grown since last year! The resources and support we’re getting from people and organizations is unbelievable. There are always areas of improvement and we’re always looking for more people and organizations to support our group.
With our team, I love that I’m at ease with all different woman at different playing levels. I enjoy meeting a range of woman from all over Connecticut. I also like the fact that we’re invited to different tournaments with men. It feels good because they also reach out and help us out. Learning to golf was intimidating at first, but once you see there are other at similar levels, it lifts you up.
ESTELA: I feel very motivated to see all these ladies coming together and learning and enjoying the game. We wanted to do it in a friendly environment and have fun and be supportive. I think we accomplished that because we continue to grow.