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For a few days each June, when the birdie-seeking boys were hogging the spotlight at her home club, Jaclyn Lee always felt like she was missing out.
That won’t be the case for the next wave of rising stars in women’s golf.
The Glencoe Invitational, with its superb reputation and list of PGA Tour-proven alumni, has been expanded to include a female division that will be open to both amateurs and pros.
“This is something that I’ve waited a really long time for and to see it come to life, I’m really excited whether I get to play in it or not,” said Lee, who honed her skills as a junior member at Glencoe G&CC and debuted last season on the LPGA Tour. “It’s always seemed like such a fun event. Even when I went to college, I told all the guys on the men’s team at Ohio State, ‘You guys have to come and play the Glencoe Invitational. If you want a fun event to play in, with WAGR (World Amateur Golf Ranking) points still and good competition, then you have to come to Calgary.’
“So to now be able to also advertise that to any girl or woman that I see, I think that’s really exciting. Because there were definitely a lot of times where I was watching — or I caddied a couple of times for some of my friends in the Invitational — and I was just jealous.”
Monday’s announcement should be big news in Canadian golf circles.
Now known as the Glencoe DCBank Invitational thanks to a new presenting sponsor, the three-round showdown on Glencoe’s tough-as-nails Forest Course will remain an amateurs-only event for the men, while the women’s competition will include professionals, too.
With a $25,000 prize purse — and $15,000 first-place payday — for a field of only 20 pros, you can bet there will be plenty of interest. If the 22-year-old Lee, currently recovering from a wrist injury, isn’t in the field for the LPGA Tour stop that week, she might come back home to participate.
The female division will also include 10 amateurs in 2020. The 25 th anniversary edition of the Glencoe DCBank Invitational is slated for June 18-20.
“From the women’s side, I can honestly say we were always a bit jealous,” echoed Glencoe member Andrea Kosa, a proud mother-of-two who advanced to the quarterfinals at the 2019 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship. “I want to be able to challenge myself against the best, on the best courses and to see where I fall down or stand up. And that’s something that the guys always had with the Invitational.
“We play in Alberta Amateurs and City Amateurs and they’re definitely great events — and they’re full events — but it’s not the same as getting the best of the best from everywhere. That’s just a great challenge that we’ll get to see now.”
What will be fascinating for local golf fans is to see where some of the competitors go from here.
Adam Hadwin, who represented the Internationals this past week at the Presidents Cup, is among the Glencoe Invitational grads now digging divots on the PGA Tour. With Monday’s announcement, it’s only a matter of time before there are tournament alumni on the LPGA Tour leaderboards, too.
“This fills a void in women’s golf for elite amateurs and professionals,” said tournament director Dale Goehring of Monday’s announcement. “All the foundational elements were in place to build upon the success of this tournament and create a first of its kind in North America.”
“I think it will bring a whole new aspect,” added Brendan MacDougall, another Glencoe member who was selected as the lone returnee for Golf Canada’s national men’s amateur squad this coming season. “The Invitational is now going to be that much bigger and that much more of a tournament to be proud of.”
The plan is the female division of the Glencoe DCBank Invitational will eventually expand to include 50 golfers, the same total as the men.
They will tee off on the Forest Course in alternating groups, a similar setup to an event Lee played last winter in Australia that featured tour pros from both genders.
“I think sometimes women’s golf gets overlooked as we’re not as good or we can’t compete or we can’t play on the same courses,” she said. “But you know what? At the Vic Open, we played the exact same course setup as the men did — same pins, same days, same weather, everything … For that to be the case at the Glencoe Invitational, I think that’s huge.
“I think that women’s golf has a lot to offer, but we don’t necessarily get to showcase it that often.”
DCBank, which also backs a Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada stop in Victoria, has signed a three-year commitment as presenting sponsor.
“We are excited to be able to continue the success of the tournament creating an integrated platform with women and men, enabling both to pursue their dreams,” said DCBank president and CEO Jeffrey J. Smith in a statement. “This tournament’s leadership team has shown real innovation and foresight through the creation of a platform that truly represents the game of golf, which includes both men and women.
“We have founded and grown our company here in Calgary so providing a world-class opportunity to both female and male golfers right in our backyard resonates with our core values. Calgary’s reputation to host widely-recognized sporting events is without argument, and the time to provide women an opportunity to equally compete on a proven competitive golf course is a perfect fit with the goals of our community investment program.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019