Ladies’ Am is the right fit for Red Deer

Written by Jim Claggett

It’s not the geographical centre of the province but Red Deer will be the centre of attention for women’s golf in Alberta this July hosting the  2017 Sun Life Financial Alberta Ladies Amateur Championship.

Many of the best female amateur golfers in Alberta will gather to put on a show and decide who is the best.

The Red Deer Golf and Country Club has hosted amateur championships in the past with members and staff willing to do their part to help Alberta Golf.

“We just felt it that this was the right fit this year,” said Head Professional Ken Frame. “Don McFarlane (RDG&CC President) has been in discussions with them for I think a couple of years and we kind of keyed in on this coming year as the host year for the Red Deer Country Club and we’re excited about it.”

Last year, Jaclyn Lee, the young superstar from Calgary took home the title which she also won in 2014. Two years ago, the winner was Jennifer Ha who now is making her way along the LPGA path. Do you see where this is headed?

The event attracts some skilled college players according to Randy Robb, Alberta Golf’s Manager of High Performance Sport.

“We use that to determine the provincial team that will go to the Nationals,” he said. “So I think they’re always trying to gear up to finish in the top three.”

Alberta Junior team members also make room on their calendar for the amateur so you will see some up and coming players who could challenge for the crown.

Players like Sharmaine Rapisura, Kehler Koss, Annabelle Ackroyd and Lauren Koenig come to mind. All were Team Alberta Members.

The tournament also provides a great opportunity for younger girls to watch and get a good idea of what the game is like at a higher level, said Robb.

“It’s ideal for that late high school player that’s trying to figure out what they need to do to be successful at college. They can see the girls that have played two or three years at university and see the level they need to be at.”

It’s not all about the young guns however. More experienced players like Sharon Peart who plays at the RDG&CC and Lynn Kuehn from Lacombe could be in the mix as they are skilled players but also might have an edge on knowing the course slightly more than other competitors.

“We’ve seen that on the men’s side for so many years, the Frank Van Dornicks and Brian Laubmans continue to contend like that, just being there and having the experience of playing the course the best possible way,” said Robb.

The tournament operates with no cut so everyone plays three rounds of golf. Anyone with a registered handicap under 25 can enter.

There are those who are vying for the title while others are there for the social aspect of golf according to Stephen Wigington, Coordinator of Sport Development and Competitions with Alberta Golf.

“We view it as a great opportunity to meet people in the province and share the passion of golf amongst the women.”

Any player has a shot at the overall title but there is also the mid-am category which is for ladies 25 and over and the mid-master competition which is for those 40 years and older, said Wigington.

“So we’ll have three champions for the tournament and if the winner is 40 and over they can win all three contests.”

Over the three days somebody could get hot and run away with it but Frame says the key just might be the unique stretch of seven par fours the players will need to navigate.

“If you can be around about even par or maybe a couple over through those par fours I think you’re going to set yourself apart from the field. That’s the meat and potatoes of the golf course.”

But there are other parts of the course which could deal a blow to somebody’s chances on any of the three days.

Depending on where Alberta Golf sets the tee boxes for the event players could face a tough test on hole #9, a dog leg right, par four. If the tees are back enough then players will have to hit an accurate tee shot to take advantage of the terrain which will funnel the ball down to a flat spot for their second shot over water.

The par five #4 will also bring out the best in the ladies as a long tee shot could see the ball tumble down a steep hill which may leave them about 150 yards for their second shot. That would be the reward portion of this equation.

“For the long hitters, they can bomb it over the end of the hill and roll down to the bottom but if they go a little bit left or a little bit right they are in big, big trouble,” said Frame. “I’m talking about only ten yards off line so they’ve got to be very straight.”

The course will play anywhere from 5,800 to 6,300 yards and Frame says essentially the rest of the track will be status quo.

“We don’t tuck the pins, we don’t grow the rough. We just let them play golf and the Red Deer Country Club is a good challenge for any player in the province and we believe that will be the case this coming July,” he said.

No matter how you slice it, the players and the fans should be in for a solid three days of golf in Red Deer.

Red Deer Hosts the Ladies Amateur

This article was originally published in the 2017 edition of The Alberta Golfer Magazine. To view the full magazine, click here.

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