Week-long Festival Set To Welcome Women To Golf

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

A She Plays Golf festival designed to get women and girls feeling more comfortable about getting out on the golf course is being held in Metro Vancouver the week of June 17.

The festival features four Women’s Try Golf clinics and two Junior Girls Tee It Up sessions that are open to women and girls who have little or no golf experience. The festival made its debut last summer in Calgary and is now being rolled out in the Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto markets.

“Golf can be very difficult,” says Laura Wilson, director of inclusion programs and safe sport for Golf Canada. “It’s not an easy sport to pick up and for women specifically, I think there is a fear of holding people up, of just not being good enough to be out on the course yet, feeling like you don’t belong and you shouldn’t be out there.

“I really do think that if it’s not a positive experience and if you feel like you haven’t developed a competency in the sport, it can be very difficult for some women to just not continue on. They just feel 'I am not good enough, I am never going to be good enough' and they could simply leave. What we are really striving to do is create that safe and welcoming environment.”

The four Women’s Try Golf Clinics go 5:30-8p.m. Monday, June 17 at Pitt Meadows Golf Club; 5:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 19 at Gleneagles Golf Course in West Vancouver; 6-8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 20 at Birdie Indoor Golf Centre in Richmond and 1-3 p.m., Friday, June 21 at Musqueam Golf Course in Vancouver.

Those clinics are held in practice areas of the golf club and will feature putting, chipping and full swing sessions.“We have women instructors and coaches wherever possible," Wilson says. “They will be leading each of the stations and really introducing the different playing mechanics in a very fundamental way.

“We don’t get too technical, we really want the women to just get a feel for hitting the ball. It’s all about positive reinforcement, offering encouragement, lots of high-fives, and there is always a social component after where we allow the women to ask questions, anything or everything they need to know about golf.” Clubs and balls are provided for clinic participants.

The two Junior Girls Tee It Up clinics will follow a similar format. They are scheduled for 5-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 18 at Mayfair Lakes Golf & Country Club in Richmond and 5-7:30 p.m. Friday, June 21 at Birdies & Buckets Family Golf Centre in Surrey.

“We bring in a community partner to talk about the importance of staying active,” Wilson says. “We lose so many girls in sports when they reach those teenage years. We just want to do whatever we can to try and encourage them to stay in sports.”

The festival culminates with what is called a Learn To Scramble session scheduled for 4-8 p.m. Saturday, June 22 at Queen Elizabeth Pitch & Putt in Vancouver. This is where women get an opportunity to get out on a golf course. “We will station volunteers on every tee box because for so many of the women they actually haven’t been out on the course before,” Wilson said.

“They may have been to the driving range, they have been to mini-putt, they may have attended one of our Try Golf sessions earlier in the week and really fell in love with it there. We found in Calgary last year our Learn to Scramble event wasn’t full early in the week and we had women at our Try Golf events during the social time afterwards and when we mentioned the scramble event they were actually signing up on their phones because they wanted that next step. They wanted to know what golf looked like actually out on the course. That is why we scheduled that event as our last event of the week.”

Participants must register for the events at sheplaysgolf.ca.There is a $30 fee for the Try Golf events and a $25 charge for the Junior Girls Tee It Up sessions. Complementing the festival in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto are She Plays Golf Championship Series events in each city.

In the Vancouver area, the GolfBC Group BC Women’s Open will be played at Mayfair Lakes in Richmond. The 54-hole event goes June 20-22 and features a $60,000 purse. The winner earns $15,000 and the top two finishers will each receive a spot in this summer’s CPKC Women’s Open, a LPGA Tour event that goes July 25-28 at Earl Grey Golf Club in Calgary.

“We are trying to address gaps in the participation pathway, from the grassroots entry level right through to high performance,” Wilson said. “As you know, right now we don’t have a women’s professional tour here in Canada so expanding the festival to the three locations is really the start of what we hope will become a women’s pro series here in Canada.”

Introduce Women & Girls To The Game Of Golf At Venues Across The Lower Mainland With The "She Plays Golf" Initiative.  https://conta.cc/4bPD1Ay