The fifth hole at Musqueam Golf and Learning Academy is one of the shortest of the course at 159 yards. But the par three along the Fraser River still has a post marking 100 yards to the centre of the green.
If it were up to men, the post would be gone, according to the club’s general manager Kumi Kimura.
“The men here can generally reach every green,” she said. “On that shot, they don’t need the 100 yard marker.”
Yet not many women can carry their tee-shot more than 150 yards and some don’t even easily hit 100 yards. The marker on the fifth hole indicates the distance to the green and what club they might select for their next approach shot.
Kimura is adamant that it remain to benefit the course’s many female golfers.
Women on the course appreciate the help.
“I look at them and I try to determine what I’m going to do,” said Sonia Gillespie, who picked up golfing when she retired from nursing in the mid-1980s. “I’m not golfing every day now. I’m 90.”
In a meeting with some of her male staff, there was a strong argument in favour of removing the post, Kimura said. “If it was just a roundtable of those three guys, they would have said, why do we need it, we can all reach.”
Her answer was this: “You’re not the only people golfing here.”
In fact, Musqueam has the largest number of women playing in its leagues compared to any other club in the city, said Kimura. She is one of the few female golf course managers in the province and April Stubbs, the head professional at Musqueam, is one of the few to hold such a position in Canada.
“It’s common sense and good business sense that if you have ideas from only men to improve your club and you’re trying to give service to a woman but have no women in decision-making roles, how can you ever think that you know what is needed,” Kimura said.
Musqueam Golf and Learning Academy was recognized as the most female-friendly course in Canada by a golf trade magazine in 2011. Kimura and Stubbs are regularly interviewed about their ability to appeal to female golfers.
Knowing what their female members want is a question a lot of clubs want to answer. More women are golfing than ever before but the number who stay with the sport isn’t high, said Kimura.
They agree that most women golf for different reasons than men and behave differently on the course and in the clubhouse. They socialize more and will walk away from a round of golf if their enjoyment suffers.
Kimura golfs alone, early in the morning and often jogs between shots for exercise. She does not keep score. “I’m there for the greenery, the peace,” she said.
Stubbs, on the other hand, measures herself against her score and plays competitively.
Musqueam is also a shorter, flatter course than the other public and private courses in Vancouver, and its majority owner, retired NHLer and former Canuck Gino Odjick, supports his manager and golf pro. More than 350 women hit the links in different Tuesday and Thursday leagues and play either nine or the complete 18 holes in leagues like the Queens of 18, Nifty Niners and the 9 & Diners. Some groups observe golf rules and etiquette but others aren’t as strict.
Lilia Murnane and Sue Curtis met this summer when they signed up for an introductory course. Both are retired and were looking for new activities and opportunities to socialize. They now meet once a week to golf with other friends.
“It’s a wonderful course to play at,” said Murnane. “It all depends on the people you play with.”
© Copyright 2013