Like most professional golfers, Marlowe Boukis must constantly think about the statistics governing the arc of her career — scores, birdies, fairways hit.
But Boukis, 23, who is from Lutherville and in her first full season on the Duramed Futures Tour, just as obsessively tallies numbers of donated books. Her literacy work and her golf game have become intertwined.
Boukis, who played on the boys golf team at Dulaney High School and on the Princeton University women's team, recently started a literacy program, Birdies4Books, in which donors contribute various amounts for each of her tour birdies.
She has 37 birdies in six tournaments so far this season, raising the pledge total to more than $1,500. A few other women on the tour have joined the cause.
"The first thing she says [after rounds including birdies] is 'Books, books, books.' That's what she's thinking," said Lisa Mickey, communications manager for the Futures, a developmental tour of the LPGA.
Proceeds from the birdies go to San Francisco-based Room to Read, which supplies books and other resources in Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia, Zambia and other countries.
Boukis chronicles her birdies and pledges on her website, http://www.birdies4books.org.
The website asks a rhetorical question: "What does a five-year-old girl reading Green Eggs and Ham in Bangladesh have in common with a 22-year-old (now 23) lady golfer in Richmond standing over a five foot birdie putt?"
"The birdie goal is not as important as the dollar amount," Boukis said in an interview. "Donors pledge between $1 and $5 a birdie. I'm always looking for higher pledges, of course. Other girls have joined Birdies4Books. It's not 'Marlowe's Birdies4Books.' "
Boukis said her charity work is hardly a distraction. Rather, she said, it adds balance to her life.
"It's certainly wonderful that I get to focus on golf. But doing a professional sport every week can feel selfish at times, and very insular," she said. "It [the literacy work] has been completely liberating. Everybody on tour wants to make birdies, obviously. For me it's positive on top of positive. It makes me more aggressive on the green."
An international relations major at Princeton, Boukis was introduced to Room to Read while writing a college paper.
Mickey said it is refreshing to see someone so devoted to a cause at a relatively young age. "It's kind of neat to see her find so much meaning in what she's doing," Mickey said.
Boukis said she expects to learn in the next few years whether she's a good enough player to make the LPGA Tour. She recently shot her best round — 67 — at a tournament in Rancho Viejo, Texas.
She played on the boys team in high school. She said a girls team was formed before she graduated, but that she remained with the boys because she was so skilled that "my coach wouldn't let me leave."