Grow­ing the field

Is­land golfers would like to see more women in­volved in tour­na­ments

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY JASON MAL­LOY

Brenda McIll­waine and Sherry White are en­cour­ag­ing more women to take part in Is­land golf tour­na­ments.

Brenda McIll­waine re­mem­bers her first swing at a com­pet­i­tive golf tour­na­ment.

“I didn’t hit the ball off the first tee - I missed it,” McIll­waine said, ad­mit­ting to ques­tion­ing why she de­cided to sign up for the tour­na­ment. “I was for­tu­nate to be with peo­ple that were en­cour­ag­ing. From the women I know in golf they’re very en­cour­ag­ing.”

A few years later she is glad she stuck with it. Her game, while not where she would like it to be, has, and con­tin­ues to, im­prove.

“I’ve seen a huge im­prove­ment,” fel­low golfer Sherry White said. “Some­times you’re play­ing well and not scor­ing well. Her shots have im­proved dras­ti­cally by play­ing tour­na­ments and be­ing com­pet­i­tive.”

And that is the mes­sage the women are try­ing to spread.

They would like to see more women take part in the Is­land’s com­pet­i­tive tour­na­ments like the player of the year se­ries and the am­a­teur cham­pi­onship.

The next stop on the player of the year se­ries is this week­end at the Mill River Open while the am­a­teur is set for Glen Afton on July 11 and 12. The men’s field will play on July 10 in a three-day am­a­teur cham­pi­onship.

“If you’re a higher hand­i­cap, like I am, you feel like you shouldn’t go in some of the tour­na­ments be­cause you’re not up to speed,” McIll­waine said. “If you want to im­prove, or if you want to just feel bet­ter about your­self, the best way is to go in tour­na­ments.”

On top of get­ting bet­ter, she has also made new friends.

White has been a reg­u­lar in tour­na­ment fields for more than 35 years and has wit­nessed the num­bers dwin­dle. She would like to see a full field of 30 for the am­a­teur and knows there are play­ers out there ca­pa­ble of play­ing in the tour­na­ments.

“There’s a lot of golfers that would be able to play tour­na­ments and just don’t and there’s also a lot of very good golfers that don’t play tour­na­ments,” she said.

White said the tour­na­ments also pro­vide a way to see and play a va­ri­ety of cour­ses across the Is­land. And it’s not all about get­ting your name on a tro­phy.

“It’s about im­prov­ing your own game,” White said.

JASON MAL­LOY/THE GUARDIAN

Brenda McIll­waine sinks a putt dur­ing a re­cent prac­tice ses­sion at Belvedere Golf Club.

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