Hitting the Links with the Ladies

Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Club - Photo Joern Rohde

In the summer months, there is no shortage of outdoor activities to enjoy in Whistler. But in recent years, one sport in particular has caught the attention of ladies: golf.

Complete beginners and experienced golfers alike are heading to the range to learn new skills, hone their technique, and enjoy the social aspect of the sport. With several local courses offering unique events and clinics geared toward ladies, there are more opportunities than ever before for women to brush up on their game.

A Shift in Golf Culture

All the local golf courses agree: The number of women playing golf in the Sea to Sky has exploded in the past few years. The traditionally male-dominated and sometimes stuffy culture of the sport has evolved, becoming more casual and beginner-friendly with an emphasis on the social aspect of the game.

Duncan Savage, director of instruction at the Whistler Golf Club, has observed an increase in appetite for the club’s women’s-only clinics. “This program began when golf was growing extremely quickly, and Tiger Woods or Annika Sorenstam had everyone in front of the TV on Sundays,” Savage explains. “The industry was seeing growth from the female category — but the feeling of golf is intimidating to newcomers. By creating a more fun and comfortable environment with like-minded individuals, we could make some headway getting people over the first hurdle.”

Women’s golf apparel is in high demand. While in the past, male gear dominated golf sales, sales are now much closer to 50/50. “One of the biggest changes we have noticed in the Sea to Sky area is the more relaxed club rules,” notes Miranda Foord, co-owner of Peak Performance Whistler. “I personally believe this was a smart move and must be related to the LPGA fashion we see nowadays on TV — for example, the introduction of the shorter length of the women’s golf shorts that come in a younger cut and many fun colours.”

Padraic O’Rourke, head golf professional at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Club, has noted a similar trend — female membership has jumped nearly 10 per cent in 2018.

Younger Women on the Rise

Image Courtesy Nicklaus North Golf Course

While golf can be enjoyed by all age groups, local courses have seen a spike in popularity with women in their late 20s to early 40s.

“Our 2018 Ladies Lessons program sold out a month before it sold out last year,” says Jason Lowe, general manager of Nicklaus North Golf Course. “Groups of friends are signing up together and the demographic is widespread, but it’s great to see many ladies in their 30s gaining interest.”

Woody Bishop, general manager and executive professional at Big Sky Golf Club in Pemberton, has noted a similar trend with the club’s ladies’ golf programs. “I would say that there is a wide variety of age demographics, but we have certainly seen an increase in the 25 to 40 ages in recent years,” Bishop says. “They seem to view it more as a social outing.”

Foord agrees. “We are also seeing an increase in the sport with younger women from the 35 to 45 category. I have many friends who love the social golf lessons that are offered in Whistler that finish with a glass of wine. What better way to meet people to also play with!”

It’s Often All About the Social Aspect

Image courtesy Big Sky Golf Club

It’s easy to see the appeal of golf — it’s a social game, with plenty of opportunities to have fun with a foursome of friends both on the fairway and at the clubhouse.

“I would certainly say that the social aspect is a major factor — if not the only one — for most ladies,” observes Big Sky’s Bishop. “If they can get out, have fun, and laugh while playing some golf and maybe hit a few good shots here and there, then it is considered a success. Our goal is certainly to make fun and laughing the most important aspect of any ladies’ event we host.”

O’Rourke of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Club agrees that the social aspect is a big part of the increasing popularity in women’s golf, as is the general desire to learn a new sport in a friendly setting.

Nicklaus North Golf Course - Photo Joern Rohde

Many of the women’s-specific programs offered in Whistler and Pemberton offer both instruction and the chance to socialize afterward. “We make sure the social aspect is maximized. Incorporating dinner and wine for all the outings is key, especially for ladies,” notes Lowe from Nicklaus North, where each lesson is followed by dinner and wine.

Dressing for Comfort, Performance and Style

Golf apparel has come a long way in recent years, according to Peak Performance Whistler. “Women’s golf clothes are more technical now with fast-wicking, comfortable, and high-performing quality fabrics. Our products are designed for a fashion-minded person on the move,” Foord says.

One stand-out piece from Peak Performance’s golf collection is the women’s Sunningdate short suit, a modern twist on the traditional golfing dress — think stylish romper made with highly technical fabric. It’s breathable, quick-drying and super comfy.

Gear is designed to be functional, yet fashionable enough to also wear off the links. “One of my favourite shorts that I wear almost every day in the summer, even off the golf course, is the women’s golf Coldrose shorts that come in plenty of fun colours,” Foord says.

Fun for Everyone

Whether you’ve got a few rounds under your belt or you’re green on the greens, there’s something for everyone on the Sea to Sky golf scene. “Groups are made up of lots of different age groups and varying motivations,” says Savage of the Whistler Golf Club. “We see mothers with teenage daughters, groups of friends or coworkers, retirees and people that have just crashed their bike one too many times.”

To experience the fun for yourself, check out the local courses:

• Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Club
• Nicklaus North Golf Course, Whistler
• Whistler Golf Club
• Big Sky Golf Club, Pemberton
• The Meadows at Pemberton

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