It wasn’t my plan, but it was a great outcome.
I’d made a commitment to friend Lisa “Longball” Vlooswyk, the 8 -time Canadian Women’s Long Drive Champion, to get involved with Women’s Golf Day. She just happened to be the Canadian lead for the program. The three-year-old movement has grown to include events at nearly 1,000 golf courses around the world, promoting all the benefits of the sport, and I wanted in.
As I have documented in columns before, my own mother was a strong influence on my golf experience, not only encouraging me to play and pursue the sport but often being my playing partner through my teen years. I learned early on that golf is a game for everyone and unfortunately, many women are intimidated to give it a try. Women’s Golf Day softens that barrier with casual, low-pressure events that usually include some instruction, food and beverages, and maybe even some business networking or entertainment. It’s been a big success, by all accounts, but a closer look really brought home what the day means to those involved.
So this year I decided to do what I could for the movement, beyond the normal coverage on social media that we have done for the inaugural two years.
The end result was that I made two new golf acquaintances: Cindy and Judy.
Donating my time as a PGA of Canada professional, I set up a short game practice area at the Glen Lawrence Golf Club in Kingston, Ontario on June 5th. The club’s CEO, Cheryl Ferguson, is a big advocate for women’s initiatives so she became involved with Women’s Golf Day in 2017. This year she attracted 111 golfers as well as other participants who came to their clubhouse for a Women In Business showcase.
After entertaining many of the players on the putting green, providing some instruction tips and general golf advice, the golfers hopped in their carts to play 9 holes at 4 p.m. and I was left to clean up the putting green. That is, until two stragglers rolled in.
Twenty minutes after the majority of the players went out for a double 9 shotgun start, two ladies made their way down to grab a cart and prepare for their round. From afar I joked that they were late, which led one of them, Judy it would turn out, to joke “I guess you’ll just have to come around and help us on the golf course.”
In replying “sure”, I sensed they guessed I was kidding, but a few minutes later I was in a cart and down the first fairway to catch up with the tardy twosome. They were amused, to say the least, that I was coming out to see them. But my intentions were more than that; I stayed for all seven holes they played. First, as more of a way to help the day along, but eventually, because I wanted to.
After normal pleasantries with Judy and Cindy, and after I provided some initial thoughts on their techniques, it took no more than two holes for the valuable conversations with the two novice golfers to begin. We bonded in a short time. It is golf, after all.
We spoke about why they were playing in the event, what attracted them to golf, and then I was able to share with them details of other benefits of the game. We discussed the beauty of various courses, the places around the world where you could visit and play the sport, the role golf could play in your family life, and even how the game can be enjoyed for those aged 4 to 104.
While each seemed to doubt their own abilities, the smiles grew bigger as they had more success and I could sense their connection to game blossoming before my eyes.
Our time was short but through the eyes of the two women, my understanding of the importance of Women’s Golf Day grew. This was not about celebrating the tour stars and celebrities taking part in the effort, this was about the Judys and Cindys – in this case, two ladies in their mid-fifties who came to golf late but are discovering more of its delights each day. Undoubtedly they will share that with others as well and the game of golf, well, it will be better for it.
They may have invited me to help them, but I’ll admit that watching them foster their link to golf was a lot more rewarding for me.
I could not have asked for a better way to spend two hours.
To find out more about Women’s Golf Day, so you can play to take part in 2019, see this link.