Canada’s largest women’s-only golf club is looking to get even bigger ahead of the new summer season.

The Haliburton Highlands Women’s Golf League will return to play later this month. An ice breaker has been scheduled at the Haliburton Legion May 10 at 7 p.m. President, Dale Rider, said it’s an opportunity for people to learn about the group, which boasts between 130 and 150 members.

“Golf is a lot of fun. It’s a very social sport, and a great way for people to stay active,” Rider said. “I’ve made a lot of friends, a lot of connections through our league. I tell any lady I meet that if they enjoy a good time, then they need to get involved, because that’s what we’re all about.”

The local women’s club was formed in 1995 by Kathy Purc and Kelly Moore. They established a nine-hole league that encouraged players, both new and experienced, to come together for some relaxed, yet competitive, play. Suddenly, women in the County had a different sort of tee time to look forward to on warm afternoons.

Riina Ennist then started an 18-hole league in 2000 that’s still going strong.

“The 18-hole group is all handicapped, so it’s a little more serious. But we have lots of good players who opt to play nine-hole only too,” Rider said.

The nine-holers play on Tuesday afternoons, with tee times starting at 3 p.m., and the 18-hole players meet on Wednesdays for a 2 p.m. start. Rider says the nine-hole group plays at five courses across the County, with the 18-hole group sticking to courses at Blairhampton Golf Club and Pinestone Resort.

Membership for players looking to compete in one league is $40 annually, or $50 to play in both. This does not cover the cost of golfing – though Rider says playing fees are heavily reduced for league members.

She said all new members are assigned to one of four team captains, who each organize different themed events and fun activities – on top of regular golf play – through the season.

Rider said play will begin later this month and conclude in late September. The group comes together for a season-ending banquet and awards night in the fall.

“We have lots of fun – for many golf fans, the Ryder Cup is one of the most exciting tournaments and we do something similar here each year where we break into different teams and compete. We dress up on holidays, like Canada Day. Everybody gets into the spirit,” Rider said.

And while it wasn’t the league’s aim to be a national pioneer, Rider said it’s a nice touch knowing Haliburton County, of all places, is home to the country’s largest recognized collection of golf-playing women.

“That’s something a few of our members have wondered about, so we reached out to Golf Canada. They told us not only are we the largest women’s-only golf league in the country, we’re also unique because we’re the only league that plays multiple courses,” she said. “It’s a great distinction – so, anyone who wants to be a part of something unmatched anywhere else in Canada, come check us out.”

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