Though able to list an Idaho Women's Amateur Championship victory on her resume, it was primarily Joan Teats' non-playing contributions to Northwest golf that earned her induction in the PNGA Hall of Fame in 1995.
Joan Teats' most important contribution came in 1977 when, after a two-day meeting at Yakima Country Club with other interested persons from around the state, Joan (pronounced Jo-Anne) founded the Washington Junior Golf Association (WJGA). During its early years the fledgling association was run out of Joan's home, while she served as the first Executive Director, a position she held as a volunteer until 1992.
Multi-Faceted Goals of the WJGA
The purpose of the WJGA is to promote junior golf competition, to teach the rules and etiquette of golf, and to establish a points system for determining representative junior golf teams from Washington in regional and international competitions. It is a registered 501 (c)3 charitable organization with programs for boys and girls from the ages of eight to 17 years of age. Its primary financial support is derived from individual contributions and the Washington State Golf Association.
To accomplish its objectives, the WJGA divides the state into six districts. A Board of Directors governs the association, with local, volunteer committees coordinating district and state tournament activities.
WJGA tournaments include four one-day district events, a two-day district championship, and a three-day state championship, each involving different age divisions for boys and girls. Points earned by boys and girls are used as the basis for selecting four-person teams to the Junior America's Matches, which are comprised of teams from all over the western U.S., British Columbia and Mexico. The WJGA points system also identifies five young juniors from Washington and northern Idaho to compete against teams from other western states and British Columbia in the Eddie Hogan Memorial Team Matches, annually hosted by Riverside Golf & Country Club in Portland. These matches are named after Riverside's revered former golf professional, Eddie Hogan.
Graduating through the ranks of the WJGA have been such well-known PGA Tour players as Fred Couples, Rick Fehr and Kirk Triplett. Besides turning out top-flight players like these, the WJGA has benefited thousands of youngsters by teaching them golf etiquette and sportsmanship. "It is fun to follow our kids on the PGA Tour," said Joan. "But it is just as nice to see so many of our kids go on to college and successful business careers. We like to think our program helped them along the way."
Joan founded the Girls' Junior America's Cup Team Matches. The boys had been playing similar matches for a few years, and Joan felt a girls' version was in order. With the inaugural girls' matches held at Tumwater Valley Golf Course near Olympia in 1978, junior girls from Washington could compete against girls from other western states and showcase their talents to college scouts.
It's easy to see why some refer to Joan as the "mother of junior golf in Washington."