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Junior leader never tires of growing the game

Junior leader never tires of growing the game

Heidi Richardson, second from right, congratulates a young student for a successful shot during one of her youth clinics at Encinitas Ranch Golf Course.
Joey Cobbs, Southland Golf

Heidi Richardson looked up from her home in Encinitas almost 20 years ago and saw machines plowing up the flower fields that blanketed the hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

“Oh, no, they’re building new houses up there,” she thought.

A PGA professional teaching at Torrey Pines Golf Course at the time, Richardson was the mother of a young son with another child on the way. She began investigating and soon learned that the ground was being cleared for a golf course, so she made a call to the developing course’s director of instruction, John Mason, whom she had known from her first job as an assistant and tournament director.

Since being hired, Heidi Richardson Golf and Encinitas Ranch Golf Course have blossomed together like the ranunculus flowers that brighten the hills and bluffs in North San Diego County each spring.

“I just love golf,” said Richardson, who played at UCLA before graduating in 1988. “I love being up here, I love seeing people react when they hit a good shot, I love getting women up here and sharing the game with them. … I’m not just fortunate, I’m blessed.”

Richardson, 51, has become a leader in junior golf and women’s golf in San Diego. She received the Junior Golf Leadership Award from the San Diego PGA and the Southern California PGA last year and every year tries to develop plans to encourage more people, especially juniors and women, to take up the game. Along with Jaqui McSorley, she has run the LPGA/USGA Girls Golf Program at Encinitas Ranch each spring since 2000, directs a summer camp for junior golfers and in the fall runs a  “prep school” program of weekly clinics after school and gives private lessons and clinics, all designed to introduce kids to golf and keep them interested in playing.

“She’s great,” Mason said. “Heidi has a lot of students, and when you see how much they like her, how much they respect her, it really stands out.”

A gymnast as a kid who was going to be the next Nadia Comenici, a lifelong runner and a yoga enthusiast, Richardson is always looking for new ways to keep things exciting for her students, particularly the youngsters.

“We always try to make things fun,” she says, “but I want to make sure they know that we’re not just goofing around. … The kids are getting PGA instruction.”

One mission is to expand on the Heidi Richardson Golf brand, to broaden her team so she has LPGA or PGA apprentices to help with instruction and the preparation that she mainly does herself now.

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