The 2016 Canadian Women’s Amateur Championship is expected to attract a strong international field when it is played at Ken-Wo GC in New Minas, N.S., this summer.
The tournament, an “A”-ranked event by the World Women’s Amateur Golf Ranking (WWAGR) for the past five years, will run July 26-29.
It will be the fifth national tournament held at the venerable course, which opened as a nine-hole layout in 1921 and is one of the oldest in the province.
It will also be the second time that Ken-Wo has hosted this prestigious event, one of the oldest competitions in the country. In 2002, Lisa Meldrum won her second of three consecutive national women’s titles on the Ken-Wo layout. Other national tournaments played at Ken-Wo include the 1985 Canadian Junior Girls, the 1996 Canadian Club Champions’ event and the 2001 Canadian Junior Boys.
Golf Canada president Roland Deveau of Nova Scotia said Ken-Wo was chosen to host the Amateur for a variety of reasons.
“First, it’s a great championship course. It has a great variety of holes and is a challenging track, which will bring forth an excellent champion,” said Deveau. “I have been involved with a number of national and provincial championships at Ken-Wo and each one has been a great experience for the players and club. And finally, the Annapolis Valley area will be a fine host for competitors, their friends and families. It is a region in which competitors from across the country and international guests will truly enjoy,” he said.
Hosting the 103rd Women’s Amateur has the strong support of the Ken-Wo membership, according to Rene MacKay, the club’s director of golf and operations and co-chair of the tournament.
“This club has a long history of supporting competitive golf,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to put the club’s name on the national golf map. The members take pride in their club and it is exciting for staff and members to be involved,” MacKay added.
Ken-Wo, which got its name from its location in New Minas, halfway between Kentville and Wolfville, home of Acadia University, is a traditional tree-lined track, known more as a “thinker’s course,” explained MacKay.
The course is expected to play to a par 70 and approximately 6,200 yards from the tips, certainly not long by today’s standards. However, savvy course management and green reading will be keys to scoring well.
“Ken-Wo’s defence is it is tree-lined and the greens are difficult. I have been here for close to 20 years and I still have a hard time with them because they are difficult to read,” MacKay said.
In a brief overview of what these top-flight golfers can expect, MacKay acknowledged the first five or six holes are fairly straightforward, “laid out in front of the golfer” with holes seven, eight and nine more difficult.
“They are all par 4s. The seventh hole is tree lined and fades left to right. If you hit to the right you will have no shot into the green. The eighth hole is a beautiful golf hole. It is also tree lined and a slight dogleg left. The ninth hole you hit into a valley but it is tough to get your second shot up the hill to the back of the green,” said MacKay.
Holes 10 through 13 are affectionately called the course’s “orchard” holes because it used to be the site of an old apple orchard.
Holes 14 through 18, known locally as Death Valley, “are likely this golf course’s biggest strength,” said MacKay. He noted that many championships have been won and lost over these last holes.
“At Augusta they say the (Masters) starts on the last day on the back nine. For us the tournament starts on the last day on No. 14,” he said with a smile. “So much can happen there.
The last holes are the meat of the golf course. Many rounds have gone down badly. This is where the course really defends itself,” he stated. The last five holes include two par 5s, two tough par 4s and a long par 3.
Overall, MacKay said Ken-Wo is a “positional” course and there are definitely “spots where you can’t hit it.” He anticipates the longer hitters will decide not to use driver on some of the shorter holes where being long off the tee may not be of any benefit.
The greens — about 4,000 to 5,000 square feet with a lot of undulation — are protected by about 50 sand traps and some water. “This course lends itself well to a national championship,” he concluded.
MacKay is intrigued to see how well the players will score and speculates a lot will depend on where the pins are situated on the greens. “I think we will see a 65 or 66, but not from one player every day. I think, depending on the setup laid out by Golf Canada, maybe four, five or six under will win.”
This article was originally published in the May 2016 edition of Golf Canada Magazine. To view the full magazine, click the image to the left.