The Ranch Hosts the Ladies Amateur

Written by Jim Claggett

After a great Sun Life Financial Alberta Ladies Amateur in southern Alberta last year at Willow Park the women are headed north in 2019.

It will be the first time The Ranch Golf and Country Club has hosted the Ladies Amateur, but it most certainly is not their first rodeo, so to speak.

“We’ve hosted PGA club pro championships. We’ve really hosted PGA events here at least one every year over the last decade,” said Murray McCourt, General Manager at The Ranch Golf & Country Club. “The Ranch certainly has a long history of hosting quality events, including some Canadian Tour events back in the early 90’s.”

So, what was it which prompted McCourt and his group to step forward and host the Ladies Amateur July 9-11?

“Over the past couple of years, the ladies golf market here at The Ranch has been on the uptick, more and more women have been coming out here and playing and really enjoying the golf course and what it has to offer,” said McCourt. He engaged in talks with Alberta Golf, feeling the course would be a great fit for this event.

The Ranch will provide a nice balance to test the best women golfers in Alberta with plenty of bunkers, some open holes, well-treed holes and some with enough water to get your attention.

“It’s a course where you certainly need a strategy in order to get around and score,” says McCourt. “Accuracy would be at the top of the list.”

“If you just grab a driver and try to smash it around here all day, you’re going to lose a golf ball or two I think,” he said.

The final four holes at The Ranch may provide a turning point for somebody hanging on to win the tournament or trying to make a charge on the final day.

“They’re all extremely difficult holes and lots of water comes into play and lots of trees come into play,” said McCourt.

He singled out #18 as one that the women will need to have their focus. It measures anywhere from 254 yards to 439 yards and has two different fairways. A specific strategy could depend on the tee in play that day. The closer tee means less water to cover but from further back you have trees to deal with so option one might be the fairway on the left which makes for a longer hole with water on the right side.

“So, you have a very narrow landing area that is very punishable on both sides and then you have a long carry to get to the green over a lot of water,” said McCourt, adding there is a grouping of bunkers protecting the putting surface.  He advises being below the hole because putting downhill on this green can be a bit tricky.

“It’s just a challenge all the way through to make sure you’re paying attention to your game and never lose focus on any shot around the golf course,” said McCourt. “But there are some holes that are birdie-able and I’m sure some of those better players who are in the field will take advantage and there will be some birdies but there’ll also be some big numbers as well.”

The Ranch will undergo a major bunker renovation before the ladies tee it up with some being removed. Those left over will get a makeover.  It remains to be seen if these changes will impact scoring during the tournament, but McCourt says in the end it will make The Ranch a bit more user-friendly for the casual player.

“It’s going to be fun because we’ve never had the best women players in the province play here and we’re excited to see how that looks.”

This being Alberta, weather can impact any golf tournament with wind, rain and even scorching heat. McCourt says if we get a real soaker during the tournament, he’s not worried as the course drains quickly.

“But if we get a drought year and we are trying to keep the course green and lush the water still likes to run away, and we dry out a little bit easier than other golf courses. If it does dry out, you’ll get a lot more roll on the fairway. It might not make it easier, but the ball might roll into places you don’t want it to.”

The Ranch has a reputation for hosting solid PGA events and there is no reason to think these ladies will not get the same red-carpet treatment in July.

The Ranch Hosts the Ladies Amateur

This article was originally published in the 2019 edition of The Alberta Golfer Magazine. To view the full magazine, click here.

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