Get a Grip!

Okanagan Women Swing into Spring

This is the time of year Okanagan golfers are basking in their good luck. While much of the rest of the country is still feeling the effects of late winter, the greens and fairways of the Okanagan Valley are beckoning.

It’s safe to say that women golfers are as passionate – and competitive – as their male counterparts. On any given hole, they can plunge into the depths of despair with a bad putt or transform their game with the perfect approach shot.

Women anticipate the start of golf season as eagerly as their male counterparts, and Kelowna golfer Dawn Taplay frequently enjoys up to 100 rounds a year at her home course, The Okanagan Golf Club.

Taplay is one of thousands of women golfers in the Okanagan, and the number is growing steadily. When Taplay was ten years old, she used her Dad’s clubs to try the sport. She fashioned a home-made attachment for her bicycle to pull her golf clubs to the course. At age 23 she became a prolific golfer.

“It is an individual sport so I can go anywhere, anytime and I can play with anyone. As a young single adult that was important and it still is. Golf is a game you play for life. You can never beat its’ challenges. There is a great deal of camaraderie in the game,” she observed.

“The Okanagan Club offers two full courses (The Bear and Quail Ridge), so when there is a tournament at one, I always have another course to play.

“There are a lot more fun competitions coming on stream and many courses are promoting women’s’ events all the time. Even if you aren’t a member somewhere, there is plenty to choose from,” said Taplay. “It’s a game you can play well into your 80s in many cases, and it is great exercise. On Canadian golf courses we promote walking, not mandatory carting. And it’s very socially interactive.”

An acknowledged expert on golf equipment, Greg Murtland says TaylorMade is the number one name in golf. (The company signed a sponsorship agreement with Tiger Woods the day Murtland was interviewed.) Ladies’ golf equipment and apparel makes up about 15 per cent of the company’s product line. TaylorMade has developed a new line designed around women golfers, Kalea, which means to bring joy and happiness.

“In some cases, women golfers are playing with clubs that have been handed down to them. Ladies prefer their own design…clubs that are lighter with shorter shafts and more loft on the club which makes it easier to get the ball in the air.” Murtland explains. “Ladies who are advanced play a stiffer flex and longer shaft.”

Women golfers often prefer to hit drivers, fairway woods and hybrid clubs. Try them at Predator Ridge, The Okanagan Golf Club, The Harvest, Gallagher’s Canyon and Two Eagles.

Predator Ridge near Vernon has a reputation as a premium golf destination and they welcome women of all abilities to this spectacular facility by emphasizing a fun, welcoming environment.

“We have put a positive spin on the experience of this lifetime sport at Predator Ridge,” says Rod Cochrane, General Manager. “We are totally committed to women golfers, and about 30 per cent of our visitors are ladies. We’ve become very good at it!”

Predator Ridge boasts 36 holes of outstanding golf as well as on-site golf cottages and all-suite hotel units. “Golf can tend to be a little bit intimidating for women. We launched the Swing Like A Girl program to celebrate everything about a golf outing. You can come for nine holes in the evening; take lessons or participate in camps where you learn to golf or work on your game.” Cochrane said.

In Kelowna, The Harvest Golf Course is another perfect option for women.

“It is just the right length for walking, and women love the surroundings and après dining,” says resort manager Gilles Dufort. “We’ve created a great learning environment and women love to learn! They will also use golf instruction for a terrific social outing.”

Just a few minutes past The Harvest you’ll encounter Gallagher’s Canyon, offering the full-sized Canyon Course and the perennially popular Pinnacle nine-hole course. The Pinnacle is home to one of the most popular public ladies day programs, held on Thursday mornings and includes lunch. With views of the Kettle Valley Canyon, mountains and the city, the Pinnacle is the first stop for many new golfers.

Tanya Coleman oversees the special events and weddings on site. She notes that more women than ever are getting into golf, and you don’t have to be a member to play ladies day. Lesson packages are also available.

Across the bridge on the West Side, Shannon Lake offers more splendid Okanagan views and a full 18-hole course. They feature a Tuesday morning Ladies Day program open to members and non-members, as well as Ladies Night on Thursdays offering nine or 18 holes. This challenging course is full of character and offers special pricing for their ladies day programs.

Other Okanagan courses known for their Ladies Day programs include the Penticton Golf and Country Club, which hosts their weekly event on Wednesday afternoons including nine holes and an optional meal. This historic course was founded in 1922!

Michaelbrook Golf Course in Kelowna has a well-known Tuesday ladies day program, and Kelowna Springs hosts the ladies on Wednesday afternoons.

Golf is social, educational, fun, healthy and highly contagious! It is enjoyed by women of all ages and abilities, in groups with their friends or partners. The vast selection of golf facilities and the commitment by so many courses to ladies’ golf have created a golf mecca in the Okanagan that is second to none.

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