May 22—Twenty years ago, Jane Metcalf was asked a simple question, but she never imagined how the answer would change her life.
While working as the director of the Coquille Indian Tribe's community center, Metcalf was asked if she would consider taking over a golf tournament the tribe had hosted the previous two years. The tribe originally started the tournament as a fundraiser to benefit native youth who wanted to play golf.
Metcalf talked to her husband Ed, then the chairman of the tribe, and they jumped at the opportunity, but they had bigger plans.
While always keeping the tie with the Coquille Tribe, the Metcalfs wanted to expand the golf program so all children along the South Coast could benefit.
Last week, the Metcalfs announced the Southwestern Oregon Youth Golf Program was ending, but not without a lot of memories, smiles and one last gift to benefit youth golfers in the region.
"We've got so much joy out of it, giving back to the kids," Metcalf said in a small ceremony with some of the program's biggest supporters. "It's said to give it up. To me, this is the time to let go."
The Metcalfs were golfers when the opportunity arose 20 years ago, so the opportunity to help a younger generation learn the game was a great way to give back. Partnering with the tribe, especially with Ed serving as chairman, made it even more special.
"I thought, 'wow, that's a perfect opportunity to take it over to benefit all the kids in Southwest Oregon,'" Jane said about the beginning. We had the youth golfers that got to participate in numerous gold camps. Later on in the program, we started doing scholarships for the youth."
The scholarships, the Joan Metcalf Youth Memorial Scholarship, will continue one last year as the Metcalfs donated some of the remaining money in the golf fund for scholarships. The rest of the money was donated to Bandon Dunes Golf Resort and Coos Bay Golf Club for youth golf programs and to the tribe for a youth fitness program on the reservation.
Jane said after 20 years, it was simply time to let go.
"I enjoyed it," she said. "But we're both retired. A lot of the golf committee doesn't work at The Mill. It's just trying to put all the pieces back together. It was time to let it go."
Throughout the 20 years, the tournament was the primary fundraiser. Every year, between 24 and 29 teams would participate. The money raised was put back into the community with free youth golf camps and the scholarships.
While there were a lot of changes through the years, Jane said one thing never changed — the strong tie to the Coquille Indian Tribe. The tribe and The Mill Casino were always strong supporters, and the tribe handled all the money that came in.
"We were always hooked to the tribe," she said. "One of the reasons it always kept going was because I worked for the tribe for 23 years and Ed worked for it."
Jane said one of her goals in the near future is to get healthy enough she can get back on the course herself.
"Hopefully we're going to get to start playing golf again," she said. "I've had a couple of surgeries, but hopefully we can start playing again."
During the brief ceremony, Jane thanked her board, the supporters and the golf courses in the area that supported the program.
Scott Millhauser with Bandon Dunes said the real thank you should go to the Metcalfs and their team of volunteers who worked to benefit young golfers.
"I just want to say thank you," Millghauser said. "What you've done to grow the game of golf is amazing. We've had so many kids from Coos Bay, North Bend, Bandon and Coquille who did well in the state tournament that started in your program. The game of golf has definitely improved because of you."
Coquille Indian Tribe Chairman Brenda Meade also applauded the Metcalfs.
"Our community and tribe has benefitted so much from the dedication, passion and hard work of both Ed and Jane," Meade said. "The work they have done over these many years has supported so many people throughout our community. It is my hope that they know how important their work has been in the lives of so many of us, and for that I thank them."
As she finished her last official event as the leader of the Southwestern Oregon Youth Golf Program, Jane said she had to thank a few people.
* Sponsors including the Coquille Indian Tribe, The Mill Casino-Hotel & RV Park, Nike, Aristocrat Technologies, IGT, AGS LLC, Bain Insurance, Bay Appliance, Bandon Dunes and the Y Marina
* Twenty years of "fabulous volunteers," including the program's final crop of committee members: Miling Laygui, Terry Springer, Terri Porcaro, Mark Hubbard, Lonnie Simpson, Larry Simpson, Gregory Duerfeldt and Trudy Groth
* Bandon Dunes, Coos Golf Club and Kentuck Golf Course for hosting events