Ledgeview Ladies Amateur celebrates 35 years

It's a testament to the staying power of the Ledgeview Ladies Amateur that the 35th annual tournament wasn't derailed by weather.

Dani Shap of Mission tees off during opening-round action at the Ledgeview Ladies Amateur. She ended up in fifth place.

Dani Shap of Mission tees off during opening-round action at the Ledgeview Ladies Amateur. She ended up in fifth place.

It’s a testament to the staying power of the Ledgeview Ladies Amateur that the 35th annual edition of the tournament wasn’t derailed by Mother Nature.

Just past the halfway point of Saturday’s first round, the event was interrupted by a sudden thunderstorm accompanied by howling winds, which chased players off the course and into the clubhouse.

But the ladies weren’t to be deterred – they got an early start Sunday morning and wrapped up the last eight holes of the first round, as well as the entire second round.

“That storm just came up so quickly,” marveled Grace Rustulka, the tournament co-ordinator. “We had to get everyone off the course. It was pretty scary … but we all survived.”

When the dust had (literally) settled, Nancy Chow proved to be the class of the field. The golfer from Richmond’s Mayfair Lakes Golf and Country Club shot a two-round total of 150 to claim the overall low gross title, edging a trio of former Ledgeview Ladies Amateur champs – Karen Pultz (151), Sandra Turbide (151) and Phyllis Laschuk (152).

Flight winners in the low gross category included Pultz (first), Kathy Strukoff (second), Nancy Schmelefske (third) and Susan Peters (fourth).

Korianne Tylor was the overall low net champ, while the low net winners in each flight were Belinda Steckler (first), Debbie Dyck (second), Cathy Hermanson (third) and Irene Mitzell (fourth).

The event’s 35th anniversary was an occasion for organizers to look back at an impressive history.

In the June 29, 1977 edition of the Abbotsford News, Ladies Amateur spokesperson Kay Dodd was quoted in an article promising that “The Women’s Open would become an annual event.” Those words proved prophetic, and the original one-day midweek event would grow into a two-day weekend event in 1992 in conjunction with the Matsqui Centennial.

The tourney has doubled as a fundraiser, generating thousands of dollars for various causes over the years. Beneficiaries have included junior golf, breast cancer research, Holmberg House, and this year’s charity recipient, the C.H.I.L.D. Foundation.

“It’s a special milestone,” Rustulka said. “Without the support of our community sponsors, this event wouldn’t be as successful as it is. It’s become a very popular event.”

The inaugural Ladies Amateur in 1977 drew 136 ladies, and the tournament reached a high of 156 in 1979. On many occasions there was a waiting list. This year’s edition of the event drew 113 players.

Diane Davies (pictured right, presenting the low gross trophy to Nancy Chow), the originator and co-ordinator of the first Amateur held in 1977, has been a continuous supporter, as The Highwayman Pub Cold Beer and Wine Store has been the low gross trophy sponsor every year.

The tournament organizers would also like to recognize Randy Bartsch of Ecotex Service Corp., the low net trophy sponsor for the 35-year period. They would also like to thank John B. Hambley, Chartered Accountant, the event’s major sponsor for over a decade. All present were delighted to have the three of them share in the celebrations on Sunday while enjoying some anniversary cake.