Since her stellar stint at Longwood, women’s golf alumna Charlaine Coetzee Hirst has spent decades as a golf ambassador, constantly seeking to help the game grow and reach new players. This week, the LPGA recognized their efforts by being named LPGA Professionals Junior Golf Leader of the Year.
The award, launched in 2012, is given to an LPGA Professional member who excels in training and promoting golf for juniors.
For Coetzee Hirst – the sole owner of her own business, Charlaine Hirst Golf LLC, which has been headquartered at the Country Club of Whispering Pines since 2009 – teaching and promoting the game is at the heart of many of their programs. The Lancer legend and Hall of Famer is constantly adapting its approach and optimizing its offerings to reach those who want to learn to play so that golf is accessible. Her customers include budding professionals, hobbyists and newcomers.
Hirst has been organizing one-week junior summer camps since 2009, during which the students learn the basics of golf, which has influenced 900 junior golfers. Some of their campers have returned to later serve as junior assistants at the camp, with many in their first jobs.
She is also the Site Manager for LPGA * USGA Girls Golf – Whispering Pines, enabling her to empower girls to learn the basics of golf while having fun. On site, her all-female group of 24 volunteer trainers adds to the experience and she encourages participants to give back to the community through creative fundraising campaigns.
Coetzee Hirst has made a lasting impact throughout her golf career, whether as a teacher, golfer or student athlete at Longwood. Before being named LPGA Professionals Junior Golf Leader of the Year, she received the 2020 Sandy LaBauve Spirit Award, the most coveted award from LPGA * USGA Girls Golf. She was inducted into both the Women’s Golf Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the Longwood Hall of Fame. In 2006, she finished first in the LPGA Teaching Division National Championship, and she also won the LPGA Teaching Division Southeast Sectional Championship in 2009, while she finished third in 2008. That came after a nine-year career on the LPGA Futures Tour from 1996-2004 with qualification and participation in the 1998 US Women’s Open.
As a lancer, she remains one of the most distinguished and prominent student athletes in school history. She led Longwood Women’s Golf to two NGCA National Championships (1993, 1995) and still holds the school record for a 54-hole round (71-71-70-212) set during her run for the 1994 national title.
Coetzee Hirst was a four-time NGCA All-American who came to Longwood to work for legendary head coach and Longwood Hall of Famer colleague Dr. Barbara Smith to play. Coetzee Hirst was also named Honda Division II Athlete of the Year, Virginia NCAA Woman of the Year, and Today’s Top Eight in 1995, while she was also named three times on the NGCA All-Scholar Team.