From big hitters to course managers, pro women golfers inspire amateur players

KINGSVILLE — When Christina Foster sets up to hit a drive it’s clear she means business — athletic wide stance, head squarely behind the ball at address and a final, purposeful stare down the fairway before she begins her long, fluid backswing. 

The swing seems effortless, but the result was a drive of 280 yards.

Foster, one of the women professionals competing this week in the PGA Canada Ororo Women’s Championship at the Kingsville Golf and Country Club, is 5 feet 7 and weighs 147 pounds. 

Her goal, like many of the golfers playing in the July 4-5 tournament, is to play on the LPGA.

So what can the average golfer, male or female, learn from watching a woman pro like Foster. 

Christina Foster

“I really use my lower body to drive the golf swing,” she said. “It’s basically the engine … and then everything else is along for the ride.

“I’m not swinging with my arms because that results in a power leak. If you really use the lower body and use the ground you’ll gain distance.”

Foster, a 27-year-old from Toronto, spends four or five days a week in the gym lifting weights. She also does wind sprints to build more explosiveness.

Two of her playing partners at Monday’s pro-am were Kingsville club members Brian Sanger and Marc Rivest. 

“She pounds it, there’s no doubt about it,” Sanger said. “She really hits up on the ball.”

He said his biggest takeaway watching Foster play was her pre-shot routine.

“It’s her preparation for every shot. She lines everything up. She’s prepared before she pulls the trigger. And that’s something we don’t do. We just walk up and slam it.”

Rivest was impressed with Foster’s ball-striking skills, but also her on-course demeanor.

I think for younger girls … it’s an inspirational chance to see older professional women play and see how they carry themselves, the way they practise, train and prepare. It’s a good opportunity.”

Matt Mueller, PGA of Canada

“She’s so nice. I get the impression professionals are a little snobby, you know, full of themselves. (Christina) is not that way. It’s been a pleasure, a real pleasure.”

Kelly Allen, a Kingsville member who also played in Monday’s pro-am, said she and her husband Mike are big fans of women’s golf and regularly attend LPGA events every year, one in Ohio, one in Florida.

“Women’s golf is far more relatable for men and women because they play more like we play,” Allen said. “They don’t shape the ball like men do. The men pros are cutting it, drawing it and their distances are so beyond us.”

And, she added, women pros are more accessible to fans.

“You can walk right beside them and talk to them,” Allen said. 

Allen was playing with Kerri Slaughter, a club pro from St. Catharines. Slaughter is not a big hitter like Foster. For her, course management is crucial. 

“I’m always looking backwards. I haven’t played this golf course before, but if I had, I think from the green back, where I’m trying to position myself … I try to play smart so I avoid a big number.”

Alyssa Getty, a former teaching pro at the Kingsville club, who now works at the Whistle Bear golf course near Kitchener, agreed course management is a big part of the women’s game. Getty said that skill starts on the practice range.

“One of the things I like to do is play holes in my mind at the range,” she said. “We don’t have to practice shots on the golf course, we can use a little imagination, we can do it on the range as well.”

Getty, who will be playing in the two-day tournament, said golf is like any other sport: it requires work and practice to be good.

Matt Mueller, championship manager with the PGA of Canada, said the profile of women’s golf in Canada has increased over the last five to 10 years because of the emergence of role models like Canada’s Brooke Henderson, a multiple winner on the LPGA. 

He said this week’s tournament will provide more role models.

“I think for younger girls … it’s an inspirational chance to see older professional women play and see how they carry themselves, the way they practise, train and prepare. It’s a good opportunity.”

The tournament starts Tuesday and is open to the public at no charge.

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