The British Columbia Golf Association (BCGA) Zone 1 Women’s Championship hits Kimberley Golf Club this weekend for the first time in more than a decade.
The 36-hole event begins Saturday, May 30, with final-round action taking place Sunday, May 31.
“The event itself is supposed to mimic what goes on at the provincial level so local girls from the Kootenays get exposure to what is actually going on provincially and nationally amongst golf competitors,” said tournament chair Karen Proudfoot Wednesday afternoon. “The fact we have the local gals exposed to this, many of them have never seen a zone tournament and never been to a zone tournament. It’s an opportunity for them to experience the process.”
Proudfoot expects to have more than 20 local entries from Cranbrook, Kimberley and surrounding area, including home-grown talent looking to defend a pair of tournament titles.
Julia Dereniwsky, a native of Kimberley fresh off her first year with the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi women’s golf team, returns to the tournament intent on defending her 2013 and 2014 amateur titles.
“For [someone like] Julia Dereniwsky, it’s hugely important,” Proudfoot said. “For the local average, 20-plus handicap person, it’s an exposure to something that’s different — a combined social and true competition.”
In total, the field is maxed out at 72 golfers this year, which exceeds the field average of 50 golfers over the past five years.
“There are 23 golf courses with ladies clubs participating in the zone and of those 23, several of them are nine holes and not really capable of hosting such a large tournament,” Proudfoot said. “[The tournament] gets rotated around approximately 15 larger 18-hole golf courses.”
Of the 23 golf courses in the zone, 21 will be represented at the 2015 Zone 1 Women’s Championship.
Julia Dereniwsky claimed her first Zone 1 title in 2013 at Kokanee Springs Resort, firing a two-day 161 to beat out Mackenzie Field of Christina Lake (164).
In 2014, she repeated as Zone 1 champion at Creston Golf Club, carding a two-round 151 to once again defeat Field (163).
Another Dereniwsky — Julia’s younger sister Kira — claimed the women’s overall low-net title in 2014 with a tournament-best 139 to edge out Creston’s Janet O’Keefe (144).
Both Dereniwskys call Kimberley Golf Club their home course.
Kimberley Golf Club was awarded the event in September 2014 and according to Proudfoot, more than 40 men and women have volunteered their time to help ensure the tournament is set up for success.
As much as the nature of the competition is key, Proudfoot emphasized how importance of the relationships established and developed throughout participants from various communities over the years.
“Getting to see the same gals we’ve seen before come back together and have a drink, have a laugh, have good memories [is my favourite part],” Proudfoot said. “As I travel and drop in [throughout the Kootenays] I can call up someone I’ve met at a zone tournament some years ago and say, ‘Hey, I’m in town.’ And we play [golf] together.
“[Those relationships] bring many of the competitors back.”
Proudfoot has been involved with organizing the Zone 1 Women’s Championship for 23 years, so she speaks from experience regarding the relationships developed through the event.
The Zone 1 Championship serves as a tournament qualifier for the B.C. Women’s Amateur, B.C. Women’s Seniors Championship and B.C. Women’s Juniors Championship.
Additionally, the Zone 1 Championship is a low-net tournament for golfers of all levels of experience and ability.
On top of individual competition, the Zone 1 Championship also has a low-net team-play component, pitting four-player teams against one another in a battle for club supremacy.
Spectators wishing to come out and support the local athletes on the final day of competition are encouraged to make their way to the 18th green between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon. The top group is expected to make its final approach on the last hole at this time.
“That would be wonderful,” Proudfoot said. “You’ve got Julia Dereniwsky, who has won the women’s amateur [title] the last two years in a row on two other golf courses and her sister Kira who was low-net overall [last year].
“We’ve got various others from nearby and far away that are in that low handicap group.”
Zone 1 — Kootenays is home to golfers from 23 clubs throughout the Regional District of East Kootenay, Regional District of Central Kootenay, Regional District of Kootenay Boundary as well as Electoral Area A of the Columbia/Shuswap Regional District.
Local member clubs include the Cranbrook Golf Club and Kimberley Golf Club.
The BCGA Zone 1 Ladies Golf Committee is a non-profit organization and hosting the event. Its main purpose is to promote ladies golf within its zone of B.C.