More than 100 women from around the state took over the green at Timber Creek Golf Course in Watertown last August, and they’re set to it again this year. They might bring another hundred ladies with them.
For its second year, the Timber Creek Women’s Golf Tournament, scheduled for Aug. 17, will be another four-person scramble and will again benefit Mound-based WeCAN. WeCAN works to help those in the western Hennepin county cities by bridging the gaps in human service needs. The non-profit currently serves 1,500 people, said Lorrie Ham, media contact for the organization.
Sheryl Morrison and Sara Johnson, who have helped to coordinate the tournament, both said they expect to almost double turn-out to 150-200 golfers this year, basing that figure on last year’s surprise success and the more extensive outreach they’ve done for this year’s tournament.
“Last year it was all pretty much word of mouth,” Morrison said. “Last year it was literally just grassroots.”
Apart from being a benefit tournament, the Timber Creek tournament is about women and golf – specifically, getting women to play golf.
Even though it’s a scramble, individuals, pairs and threesomes may also sign up and will then be paired with others to make four-person teams.
A traditional four-man golf scramble pits teams of four against each other with each team member taking a shot off the tee for each hole played. The best of the four tee shots is used as the starting point for the next swing.
“Women are probably not as likely to go out to a golf course by themselves,” Johnson said, naming a lack of confidence in skill as a big driver for this.
The scramble is a good way to introduce more people to the game because it can help to level the course as far as skill level goes, Johnson said. “Everyone’s going to hit a couple shots and everyone’s going to make a couple putts. It’s a great way to have either a wide range of skills or someone who’s not as comfortable – it’s not relying just on you or your golf game.”
That doesn’t mean the tournament won’t be a challenge for those who want to make it one. “We’re not lowering the bar for those who want a competitive game,” said Suzanne McWilliams, who has been head organizer for both tournaments.
Golfers who do want a bit of an edge, though, can get one – for a nominal donation to WeCAN. The Chanhassen Girls Golf Team is offering its members’ expertise to golfers on the green by hitting their first shot - “using the pro shot,” Johnson called it. It was a way to bring in more female golfers and younger golfers, Johnson said.
Which is why there is a tournament in the first place. Brooks Ellingson, owner of Timber Creek, had approached McWilliams last summer with the idea for a women’s tournament; it originally was planned to be for Timber Creek members only, but McWilliams asked to open the tournament to everyone.
“If we’re going to do this, let’s do this for women’s golf across the board,” she said.
McWilliams, who heads the club’s Tuesday night ladies’ league, said her experience had been one of playing in tournaments that were male-dominated and that the few women involved were involved on a fairly disinterested level.
Her challenge was to put together a full golf course of women in just over a month. “It was a mad scramble,” McWilliams said of planning for the first tournament, which she said she’d assumed would be a year out from when Ellingson brought the idea to her. “How on earth do you get enough women to fill nine holes, let alone enough women to fill 18 holes? In five weeks?”
The 2018 tournament drew 110 golfers and raised $4,500 for WeCAN.
“We had no idea what our turn-out was going to be,” said Johnson. “It was a little scary.”
A July 28 posting to the tournament Facebook page stated that last year’s 50 raffle donations accounted for just as much of the funds raised as did the registrations, and the raffle will be back this year, again with 100 percent of the raffle money going to support WeCAN.
There are still spots open for both golfers and sponsors in this year’s tournament.