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Learning lessons that go beyond the greens on the golf course.

Despite having a well-stamped passport, Renee Allain-Stockton said there's one thing that she can be sure of finding regardless of where she travels - a golf match with other women.

Her husband, Dmitri Stockton, and she have lived, among other places, in Atlanta, Connecticut, Zurich, Paris and London.

"Everyplace I go" she told, "I somehow manage to find a cadre of women to play golf with. In Europe, all of them weren't sisters, but in most places they have been.. A lot of us have gotten into it because of our careers.

"In certain professions, that's how people do business: they take clients out to courses and you don't want to be left out," she said.

When the organization Triangle Women in Golf, of which Allain-Stockton is president, hosts its 16th annual TWIG Invitational Golf Tournament Sept. 14 at Hillandale Golf Course in Durham, part of the purpose will be to ensure that young girls won't be left out of the business world and will be equipped to handle themselves on the links and in the corporate suites.

How so? I asked.

"It's not just about the game of golf or preparing them for business," she said, "Golf teaches you so many other important values - like honesty, perseverance, patience and cooperation.

She left out "humility" until I reminded her. You see, even as someone who's set foot on a golf course exactly twice, I can attest that trying - and failing - to hit a little bitty white ball that isn't moving will humble you.

"These are life skills we're trying to teach them in addition to the game of golf," she said. "The reason we started the TWIG Kidz program 16 years ago was to try and introduce girls from eight to 18 to the game at an earlier age, because the earlier you start playing, the better you'll get."

The non-profit organization's membership has held steady - except for a dip three or four years ago - at around 55 to 60 women.

"That's how many there were when TWIG was started 22 years ago," Allain-Stockton said. "I joined the year after it started, and it was, from what I understand, primarily a bunch of women who worked at IBM. And since none of them were really golfers, it was truly a beginners golf league back then.

"Over the years it has evolved," she said, and many of the women are now very serious golfers. "We manage every year to find more young ladies to play in the tournament. In fact, I was telling someone that this is the first year that we've had more women playing than men.

"We've come up with a great way to satisfy both objectives - fun and competitiveness. It's a tournament for all handicaps, all levels of play," she said.

Doing good while having fun, though, remains the main focus of the tournament, she said, and she refused to say whether some of the players - especially the men - make side wagers during the tournament. (I'm betting they do.)

If you want more information, visit the group's website at




Meet Barry Saunders

For over 20 years, Barry was a columnist for The News & Observer in Raleigh, NC. He also wrote for other publications, such as the Atlanta Constitution and the Richmond County Daily Journal. Often described as powerfully honest and illustratively funny, Barry's writing is both loved and hated by readers- sometimes simultaneously.  


Want more? Get your own copy of one of Barry's published books featuring reader favorites (and not so favorites) from his years writing columns for The News & Observer. Titled "Do Unto Others...And then Run" and "...And The Horse You Rode In On Saunders!", they're full of guaranteed entertainment. 


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