On Par

Words by Cara Williams, photography courtesy of Mad River Golf Club
Touted as a hidden gem, Mad River Golf Club is poised for discovery as this summer, the club plays host to the prestigious 2023 Canadian Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship (Mid-Am), presented by BDO. 

Situated on the doorstep of the Niagara Escarpment in Creemore, Mad River Golf Club features a mixture of tree-lined fairways and links style fescue, flanked by rolling farmland. A multifaceted playing experience, clever golfers must use every tool in their toolbox to meet the challenges presented at each hole—club selection is paramount and a creative short game is crucial. Designed by the late Bob Cupp, the course is demanding due in part to the elevated greens, strategically positioned ponds, as well as time-of-day play. “The most striking and memorable element of Mad River’s design is the shadows,” said Cupp. “The land is a series of substantial mounds or small ridges that provide excellent counter slopes, resulting in superb golf.”

This July, Mad River Golf Club will test an international field of golfers July 24-27 as the club hosts the prestigious Canadian Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship (Mid-Am) presented by BDO. “Mad River was chosen by Golf Canada,” explains tournament Chair, Susan Quigley. “They looked at Mad River as a world-class golf course, often ranked the top 50 in Canada, top 10 in Ontario and the highest ranked course in the Georgian Triangle. So, we offer the perfect spot to host such a prestigious event.”

This will mark the first year that Golf Canada has chosen to sponsor the Mid-Am as a standalone event—in previous iterations, the tournament was held alongside the Women’s Senior or Women’s Amateur Championships. 2023 also marks the first time Mad River will host a national championship. “We’re very excited because we will have the top female golfers from across Canada and the US,” says Quigley. “We’re excited to showcase our facility and our community. We’ve got a lot of support—our members have enthusiastically stepped up to volunteer and offer financial assistance.”

The championship runs over four days and gets underway with an official practice round, followed by three championship rounds in a 54-hole stroke-play competition. Not only does a great deal of pride come with capturing a Mid-Am win, taking top spots also earns exemptions into the Canadian Women’s Amateur and US Women’s Mid-Amateur tournaments. “The winners get automatic entry into future events,” says Quigley. “Kristy Henry is our club champion and we are very excited to have her represent Mad River.”

No stranger to competition, Henry grew up competing in the Ontario junior golf circuit. She was an all-round athlete when she attended Collingwood Collegiate Institute and was named female athlete of the year as a senior. She went on to attend Daytona Beach Community College where she was a two-time All-American and helped cinch back-to-back NJCAA national titles. Kristy earned a golf scholarship to the University of Central Florida and after graduating, returned to her Ontario roots. “I used to work in the Mad River Pro Shop,” laughs Henry. “I joined as a member over 10 years ago.” With an international field of golfers set to descend upon Creemore, Henry is eager to showcase her home club; “The course is in great shape and it’s only going to get better. I truly believe it’s one of the best golf courses in Canada. I’m extremely proud of how welcoming and supportive our membership has been towards the event and thankful for the number of volunteers that have stepped up. It’s going to be a great week.”

Representation from around the world is expected, with an exceptionally strong field of Canadians. While any female aged 25-and-over with an official handicap index of 12.0 or less is eligible to register, the event has attracted well-known names like Etobicoke’s Terrill Samuel. Samuel won the coveted crown at the 2022 Women’s Senior Amateur championships at Royal Dornoch in Scotland. Thornhill’s Judith Kryinis already has a Mid-Am and Senior Championship to her name, and BC’s Shelly Stouffer began her 2023 season by capturing both the B.C. Women’s Mid-Am and Mid-Master titles. “Don’t underestimate these ladies,” says Henry. “These women are amazing. Mad River is a tough course so it’s going to be a great show.”

Spectators are welcome—tickets are not required, nor are advance reservations. “Spectators can just show up on the day,” says Quigley. “The practice round is on the Monday with early rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday. The finals will be on Thursday. There’s no entry fee, and there will be some great golf.”

“This is such a great area,” adds Henry. “I’m excited for the golfers and their families to experience all of Clearview Township. Our grounds crew has been putting in the work and it shows. We’re very lucky to have this level of golf in our backyards.”

The Canadian Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, presented by BDO, takes place at Mad River Golf Club in Creemore, July 24 to 27. To find out more about the tournament please visit golfcanada.ca and madriver.ca