KINGSVILLE — The Kingsville Golf and Country Club has a simple goal when organizing top-flight golf tournaments like next month’s Ororo PGA Women’s Championship.
The tournament is organized down to the finest detail so the pros playing in the July 3-5 event can concentrate on one thing and one thing only: playing their best golf and advancing their pro careers.
The stakes are high for the young women pros. The winner receives an exemption to the CP Women’s Open, an LPGA event scheduled Aug. 21-27 at the Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club in Vancouver. They are also looking to gain promotion to the Epson Tour, a feeder tour one step below the LPGA.
To make sure there are few distractions, the club has organized accommodations, meals, a shuttle service from Windsor Airport to Kingsville and $150 stipends to cover some expenses.
On the course, volunteers will register the golfers when they arrive and organize practice schedules to give the women as much time at the driving range and putting green as they need.
Fore caddies will locate errant tee-shots and a team of rules officials will be stationed throughout the course to provide quick rulings.
There will be a central scoreboard, but online scoring will be provided so golfers can access the leaderboard on their cellphones.
If a golfer needs a caddy, one will be provided.
“We’ve got a ton of volunteers so (the golfers’) main focus is to go out there and concentrate on their game,” said Kingsville Golf general manager Doug Quick.
“If we can provide them … a hassle-free environment that’s going to make their job much easier. They can concentrate on golf.”
Tournament chairperson Jean Page agreed.
“We certainly want the young ladies to feel comfortable,” she said. “They want to do well so they can get to the next level. That’s their goal and we have to help accommodate that.”
The Ambassador Golf Club in Windsor is also hosting a PGA Tour Canada men’s event later this summer. Ambassador has no membership base, making it difficult to recruit volunteers.
Kingsville doesn’t have that problem.
It was able to quickly put together a team of 65 volunteers shortly after it was announced the club would be hosting the ladies tournament.
“They (Ambassador) don’t have the advantage that we have,” Page said. “We have a base of competent, experienced members.”
Kingsville has a long history of hosting top amateur tournaments. It has hosted many men’s and women’s amateur events and last year hosted the Under-19 Ontario Amateur Championship
Next month’s tournament will be its first PGA event.
“Every time you run a tournament you learn something different. I think the biggest thing you learn is how to become really efficient … we like to think we have a pretty good handle on things,” said Quick.
Quick and Page said Kingsville members deserve credit, not only for volunteering, but also for giving up tee-times for three consecutive days — a pro-am July 3 and a two-day tournament July 4 and 5.
“I think one of the things that Kingsville Golf has done very well is promote the game of golf,” Quick said. “We’re providing our venue to allow these girls to continue to play golf and we’re doing our part to grow the game. I think that’s extremely important with young people and, in this case, a lot of young professional golfers.”
The tournament, which is open to the public at no cost, will have a purse of $6,500, with $1,000 going to the winner.
Tournament chairperson a strong advocate for women’s golf
In the 1960s, Jean Page was one of the few high school teachers teaching math in Windsor.
During the course of her career at Riverside and Massey — she retired in 2003 — Page, who has degrees in physics and chemistry, made a point of telling her female students they could also succeed in math and sciences.
“I hope that I had an influence on anyone who looked at me and said, ‘She can do math, so can I,” she said.
The Kingsville Golf and Country Club tournament chairperson takes the same approach with women’s golf —not as a player, but as a strong advocate for women’s golf.
“I’ve always been working in a world where women have had to promote themselves and this is what this (tournament) is doing. This is an opportunity to promote women’s golf in our community.”
The Ororo PGA Women’s Championship July 3-5 will have a field of 40 pro golfers, although that figure could increase closer to registration.
For Page, it’s all about role models like Canada’s top female pro, Brooke Henderson, and pros like Michelle Wie and Rose Zhang, who recently become the first woman golfer in 72 years to win an LPGA Tour event in her pro debut.
Page said Henderson played in the Ororo tournament early in her pro career.
“They are great role models and that’s what we want because there are males out there that are much more visible. The females aren’t and that’s just the reality of it. That’s why this PGA event is so important.”
Since her retirement Page has also worked as a rules official with Golf Ontario.