BY ALEX KINSELLA | JULY 2022
Waterloo Region was proud to welcome 140 women golfers from Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and Australia who were competing in the 108th Canadian Women’s Amateur Championship presented by BDO. The golfers took to the links at the Westmount Golf & Country Club in Kitchener July 19—22, 2022, where Monet Chun from Richmond Hill, Ontario won the tournament with an impressive final score of 5-under 287 to earn her place on the Duchess of Connaughton Gold Cup.
Organizing and running a tournament of this scope and size takes a lot of work from dedicated volunteers like Linda Brooks. Brooks is a member of the club’s Board of Directors and served as the Communications & Marketing Chair for the tournament.
“There are a lot of talented young women here. It’s exciting to watch them play the course and see all the spectators cheering them on,” Brooks said.
The players ranged in age from 13 to 60 and included four Westmount members and Brooke Sharpe, a local high school teacher and defending women’s champ at the Elmira Golf Club.
Lori Spoltore is the Host Club Tournament Chair and said having Westmount be the first course in Waterloo Region to host the Canadian Women’s Championship was a fantastic opportunity for the club and the community.
“The field is amazingly talented and we’re just so proud to host it. I spoke to the group last night at the opening reception and I just said these women are role models for young girls,” Spoltore said.
Inspiring a Love of Golf
The tournament was also an opportunity to introduce the sport to tomorrow’s potential champions with the Future Champions junior golf clinic held on Tuesday, July 19. The clinic hosted 30 young girls for an introductory lesson with golf professionals. The clinic resulted from a partnership between the club and Golf Canada as part of their community engagement program.
Mary Beth McKenna is Golf Canada’s Director, Amateur Championships and Rules. She said the championship was a perfect opportunity to host a youth introductory clinic.
“What better way is there to introduce girls to the sport than getting some instruction and then being able to go out and watch some of these players. It goes beyond golf itself, which is really important to us,” McKenna said.
Participating in sports helps children build relationships, support their physical and mental health, and build self-esteem. Laura Wilson, Golf Canada’s Director for Diversity, Inclusion, and Safe Sport, said part of Golf Canada’s mission is to increase the participation of women and girls in golf.
“If we do end up with our next Brooke Henderson, that would be amazing. But really, it’s about building engagement with the sport. We want these young girls to fall in love with golf and understand the physical, psychological, and social benefits of participation in the sport. We hope we make players for life,” Wilson said.
Developing Relationships and Partnerships through Sport
Golf Canada’s community engagement initiatives look for ways to introduce underrepresented groups to golf to increase the sport’s diversity. At the same time, Brooks said that Westmount has also been pursuing outreach efforts in the community to promote youth participation in sports.
In the lead-up to the Future Champions clinic, the club has been working with Anishnabeg Outreach to introduce Indigenous youth to golf. Anishnabeg Outreach is a local non-profit organization providing Indigenous people access to culturally appropriate services and support.
Brooks said the relationship between the club and Anishnabeg Outreach started when she contacted them personally to talk about reconciliation training as part of her personal journey.
Stephen Jackson, CEO of Anishnabeg Outreach, added that those conversations turned into an opportunity to provide Anishnabeg Outreach with instructional videos, golf equipment, and in-person instruction and led to eight Indigenous youth participating in the Future Champions clinic. Jackson said that Anishnabeg Outreach’s sports programming goes hand in hand with their academic tutoring programs.
“I think if I look at what started the conversation and where we ended up being, we’re lightyears ahead of where we started. Initially, it was just a conversation. Then the tournament. Then the clinic and loaner clubs for the people that are Indigenous. For us, it’s not just golf. Sports and tutoring are all about ameliorating one of the issues for indigenous people—and one of those issues is that there’s a 500% higher dropout rate for Indigenous versus non-Indigenous students,” Jackson said. “All of us probably played sports and we all know it gives us a sense of camaraderie. But that plus tutoring means you’ll probably stay in school, and if you stay in school, all the positive things happen as opposed to all the negative things happening like prison, homelessness, and addiction.”
Jackson added that the relationship with Westmount is opening opportunities for Indigenous youth in the area.
“If we ever want to achieve reconciliation, it’s all about relationships and opportunities they wouldn’t normally have had. Having this opportunity to participate is groundbreaking.”